Newcastle were beaten by Sunderland yesterday in what was a third derby defeat in a row against Sunderland.
It wasn't a close game either. Newcastle were completely torn apart by the Black Cats and it could easily have been worse than 3-0.
The days of challenging for titles are gone for Newcastle United. Not even the great sir Bobby Robson could do better than 3rd.
But the one silver lining they could cling on to, the one pride and joy that they still retained was their superiority over their arch rivals. Now it seems they don't even have that.
Newcastle are in 8th place and, realistically, the only direction in which they can move is down. Their excellent first half of the season means that they will likely achieve their 'goal' of a top ten finish.
But Sunderland, while in a relegation battle, are on the up. With two derby victories under their belt and and a cup final against Manchester City to look forward to, you have to wonder whether Newcastle fans would consider trading places with their bitter rivals.
Very rarely has that been muttered on Tyneside. It simply didn't have to be this way.
Before the season, Newcastle had a huge chance to push on and really cement their place as a top six club.
But yet again, in spite of the extra TV money that seemingly every other club spent on new blood, Ashley chose not to take that chance. And yet again he got away with it.
After a wobbly start, Alan Pardew's side picked up and were sat nicely in 8th at the beginning of the transfer window.
However, (unsurprisingly), Ashley again elected not to spend a penny, making history in the process as Newcastle became the first Premier League club to not make a single permanent signing over the course of a season.
It sounds bad without even mentioning the fact that he also chose to sell Newcastle's best player Yohan Cabaye to PSG without replacing him.
Would any other Premier League owner have sold his club's best player when European qualification was a very real possibility and then not replace him?
No. Because the truth is, Ashley doesn't want Newcastle to qualify for the Europa League. As we saw last year, it completely decimated the Newcastle squad and very nearly caused its relegation, with little financial reward for their troubles.
If the Toon did qualify again, Ashley would have to spend more money to avoid another disaster. That is the last thing he wants to do.
It is obvious that Ashley knows he made a mistake buying Newcastle United and he wants out of it as soon as possible.
The only issue is that Ashley had to pour a lot of money into the club to pay off its debts and he wants that money back.
No potential buyer will be willing to give it to him. So until such time as someone rich with a soul comes along, he is going to keep the club ticking over in the top ten and bank as much of the TV money as possible, while getting some free advertising for Sports Direct at the same time.
Then, when he has recouped what he's wasted on the club, he'll be off. But that could take a long time and until then the Geordie faithful will continue to back their club to the hilt, a club who don't even want a cup run for fear it could harm their prospects of a top ten finish.
It is a despicable and disgusting way to treat the club's fans, who spend a large proportion of their annual income in order to watch their beloved club wallow in mediocrity. It should be a crime.
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