Thursday, 9 December 2010
Mike Ashley is a man used to making difficult decisions.
The business World isn’t a popularity contest and it is obvious he has made some controversial – if ultimately successful – decision in the past, given his vast wealth.
In business you always seek to maximise the return for every penny you spend, make the money work harder for you.
It appears Ashley is taking the same approach with another one of his assets – Newcastle United.
Fans, players and pundits alike were scratching their heads when Chris Hughton was dismissed this week.
But it later emerged that Ashley never saw him as anything more than a coach, a cost-effective safe pair of hands designed to carry the club through choppy waters.
He was also one of the lowest paid managers in the Premier League, a reflection perhaps of Ashley’s determination to balance the North East club’s creaking balance book.
But the 47-year-old’s desire to bring in a man with ‘more experience’ immediately got Geordie thoughts racing as to what possible replacement was lined up – Martin Jol, Martin O’Neill and even Jurgen Klinsmann were mentioned.
To say the fans were underwhelmed by the eventual appointment - Alan Pardew - is an understatement. To quantify it he received just 15 votes in a poll run by a local newspaper, just 2% of the vote.
But by appointing the former Charlton and West Ham manager is Ashley getting more bang for his buck?
After all, despite the lengthy five and half year deal (!?) I doubt Pardew will rank among the division’s top earners. The likes of Jol and O’Neill would have demanded big, big money - money Newcastle simply haven’t got.
In Ashley’s eyes he is getting rid of a coach and replacing him with a manager – for a similar price.
It is a dangerous game taking a business approach to football though – many a shrewd business man has been stung by the passionate, eccentricities of the beautiful game, that fly in the face of business logic. This is just another in a long line of risks taken by Mike Ashley.
And with Liverpool, Man City and Spurs lying in wait in the coming weeks, I doubt he will have to wait long to see if it was a risk worth taking.