Ashley deserves the credit for Newcastle’s meteoric rise

Now though, he deserves credit for a series of intelligent decisions which has revitalised the club’s fortunes.

After he took over he appointed Kevin Keegan as manager in a romantic move, but one which was ultimately doomed to failure. Keegan is synonymous with glorious failure. In the months after the club lurched in its crisis from Joe Kinnear and then to the worst manager of all – Shearer. With the backing of the fans as a club legend and too many friends in the media to ever receive criticism, the former England forward was never going to be lambasted for taking the team into the Championship.

Instead it was Ashley who took the brunt of the criticism, and indeed he had made some catastrophic decisions as he turned Newcastle into a laughing stock. But since then, he has made a series of clever decisions which have changed the club’s prospects entirely. First, he refused to sell the club to the wrong person, despite making it clear he would do so if the right offer came along. He held on, gave Chris Hughton the reins, and he took the team straight back into the Premier League.

In the Premier League, Hughton made a great start to the season before being fired. Ashley was once again castigated but this proved a superb decision. Ashley acted to remove the triangle of power running the team; Hughton, Joey Barton and Kevin Nolan. Barton and Nolan, essentially limited players with energy, were entirely unsuitable for such trust and the club’s long term future was always going to be in doubt because of this axis.

It was little surprise when Nolan and Barton were sold in the summer, and sensibly so. With Alan Pardew, a manager never given the credit he deserved for his work at West Ham, Newcastle could now make progress. A series of French players have been brought in; Sylvain Marveaux, Yohan Cabaye. The defence is strong, the midfield too but still they have failed to bring in a striker. But rather than Liverpool, who raided Newcastle for £35 million Andy Carroll last year, the north east club have not panicked and resorted to an overpriced striker to solve an attacking problem.

This sums up what has guided Newcastle to an unbeaten start to the league season – patience. Ashley’s patience and decision making, as well as that of Pardew, have been crucial, and now Newcastle look a genuine force again, capable of challenging at the top end of the Premier League.

For that Ashley deserves as much credit now as the scorn he received when they were relegated; his stewardship has been important as the contribution of any of their players or managers in recent times to their current lofty standing.