Sheikh Khaled bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The man who could finally spell the end of Mike Ashley’s stranglehold over our club.
With Manchester City seeing the wonders of what a Sheikh could potentially do, we can be forgiven for beginning to dream a little about what the future might hold. But, this is Newcastle. And there’s always bound to be something that throws a spanner in the works. So whilst a new owner would end Ashley’s time at the club, it may not necessarily mean that we end up with someone better.
Indeed, if reports are to be believed, if Sheikh Khaled’s takeover attempt gets completed, then he is already intent on trying to lure Jose Mourinho or Arsene Wenger to the managerial hotseat at St James’ Park. A few seasons ago, a move for either man would have been unbelievable. But, the simple fact is, we have Rafa Benitez. The man loved by everyone at the football club, and the man responsible for getting us back to Premier League football.
Sacking him now to replace him with someone else would rip the heart and soul out of the place; every game both home and away, the Toon Army stood up and sang Rafa’s name. The Spaniard’s a Tyneside hero, and it would be a heart-breaking blow to see him become one of the casualties of a new owner.
Whilst a hands-on owner taking his interest on the footballing side of things can be a blessing, it can be a major curse too. Interfering with the manager’s decisions, having ‘favourites’ that they want playing week-in and week-out are just some of the things Sheikh Khaled may feel like doing to stamp his mark on the side.
Being ruthless with managers can bring trophies and success (just look at Chelsea under Roman Abramovich in this past decade) but it can also bring chaos. And the last thing we need as a football club is that. Stability and trust in the right people go a long way, and it remains to be seen whether the new owner would be willing to let people who actually know the game inside out to take the reins on the pitch.
And then, what you also don’t want are owners like the Glazer family at Manchester United or Stan Kroenke at Arsenal. Capable of taking money out of the club, but reluctant to put any money in. With Premier League football secured once again, it’s high time we start acting like a Premier League club in the transfer market too. The signing of Miguel Almiron back in January was a huge success and just a small example of the impact spending can make on a team. If Sheikh Khaled does indeed take over the Magpies, then he’ll need to put his money where his mouth is when it comes to making a success of it on the pitch.
So whilst the initial reaction of finally seeing Ashley leave has made us all giddy with excitement as if its Christmas come early, we’ll have to wait and see if our dream quickly doesn’t become a nightmare.