Newcastle’s former chief scout Graham Carr has opened up on Mike Ashley’s transfer strategy at St James’ Park – admitting it hasn’t worked out for the Toon chief.
Ashley is a deeply unpopular figure on Tyneside, with Magpies fans regularly calling for him to leave the club in recent years.
The British tycoon looked to be on his way out earlier this summer, only for a consortium backed by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth to pull out of their proposed £300million takeover.
As a result, Ashley remains the man in charge at Newcastle despite his frosty relationship with supporters.
One of the main issues Magpies fans take up with their owner is his reluctance to splash the cash, and this summer he has only spent £34million on two new recruits in Callum Wilson (£20million) and Jamal Lewis (£14million).
According to former Newcastle chief scout Carr, who departed the club in 2017, Ashley’s hesitance in the transfer market could be explained by his preference to sign players with high sell-on values.
“I learned you had to be positive with Mike, convince him,” Carr revealed in an interview with the Daily Mail.
“One of my first dealings with him, I was in North Shields with my wife and was told to be ready for a conference call.
“I panicked, I’d never been on one, I was driving around the coast charging my phone!
“We started talking about [Hatem] Ben Arfa. Mike had this thing with a 4-4-2, first-team players on £40k a week and understudies on £20k.
“He couldn’t understand why we’d want Hatem and Jonas Gutierrez, two left wingers, on £40k. I knew Hatem could be brilliant, so I cut in, ‘He’s a No 10, actually, and he can cut in from the right’. That was it, done.
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“But he had this plan — buy them younger than 25, with sell-on value. If I asked him to spend £10m on a 29-year-old, he’d f***ing laugh at me.
“Over time, that plan hasn’t worked. But I do believe that he meant well.”