Steve McClaren: ‘You don’t have a relationship with Mike Ashley’

Former Newcastle United manager Steve McClaren says that working with Mike Ashley was tough. McClaren says that the NUFC owner didn’t like to deal with the club a whole lot so actually cultivating a relationship with the him was tough.

McClaren who managed Newcastle for three quarters of the 2015/16 season in which the club were relegated to the second tier, despite having spent a fortune on some very good football players – including the likes of Georginio Wijnaldum and Aleksandar Mitrovic.

Now, speaking of his time in charge of the club, McClaren says that the relationship with Mike Ashley is non-existant.

“You don’t actually have a relationship with Mike Ashley and that’s how he wants it,” says McClaren.

“That’s how he runs his businesses, that’s how he runs his football club and you’ve got to respect that, so he had people below him who did the work and were expected to do his work how he wanted it.

“I met him I think for 20 minutes before the first game, against Southampton, and I think I said Happy New Year at the game at Watford and they were the only words, relationship and communication that I had with Mike Ashley.

Steve McClaren on overhaul he realised Newcastle United needed ...
Steve McClaren poses in front of the camera having taken over as boss at Newcastle back in 2015

“Everything else went through other people within the football club so it was difficult to get that close relationship.”

While interesting to hear McClaren say that, it’s not exactly surprising. Ashley hired Lee Charnley to basically oversee the running of the club. When it comes to footballing operations – he has very input in what actually goes on.

As well as his relationship with Ashley, McClaren also spoke about his ill-fated spell at the club on the field – saying he felt as though the whole club needed a turnaround pretty quickly after he took over.

“It was a difficult club at that time to manage and, again, I thought I had all the experience,” said McClaren.

“Time is something you don’t get at a football club and that club needed time to turn around, and I knew after six weeks, 10 weeks in the dressing room that it needed changing around and that might have taken a year, two years.

“Unfortunately, I wasn’t given that time and that’s what happens in football. You’ve still got to win in the short-term and plan for the long-term. That has always been the motto and always will be. Unfortunately, I ran out of time.”

The issues, while they were there to see, should never have been so bad enough for that team to be relegated. The team McClaren had at his disposal was, in my opinion, a top half Premier League football team – and yet we ended up in the second division with it.

That season will always go down as one of the weirdest in living memory for me. Leicester won the league and we enjoyed a few great days – yet ultimately still ended up going down. Despite that though, the hiring of Rafael Benitez sort of made it all better for a while…

Either way, it’s interesting to get a little bit of insight into the way the club is run from McClaren. One of the biggest issues I have with the Ashley era is the sheer lack of transparency. We know nothing of how the club is run, which just feels stupid…

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