Simon Jordan has questioned the belief that Newcastle are a big club – saying the Magpies are big in their own city and nowhere else.
The former Crystal Palace chairman also told talkSPORT that context must be given before Mike Ashley is criticised, as there are many clubs in the north east who are in a far worse situation than the St James’ Park outfit.
The Toon faithful have been furious at Ashley for years, but their anger ramped up last week when it was confirmed Rafa Benitez would leave the club at the end of his contract.
Benitez could not agree a new deal with Newcastle chiefs, and Ashley has been blamed for refusing to accept the Spaniard’s demands despite his superb work over the past three seasons, which saw the Magpies win promotion to the Premier League and then secure survival twice to ensure a third successive top flight campaign.
Jordan was widely criticised after airing his opinion of Benitez on talkSPORT earlier this week, insisting the former Liverpool boss is only out for himself and only used the Newcastle job as a stepping stone in his career.
And now, the ex-Palace chief says he always will be slammed for talking about Newcastle as he is a southerner – while also hitting out at the club’s perception of themselves as ‘big’.
Speaking on Wednesday’s Jim White show, Jordan said: “Every time a southerner opens his mouth about Newcastle… it seems to be one of those football clubs you’re not allowed to talk about because if you dare to have the audacity to have an opinion on Newcastle you’re vilified by Newcastle fans.
“Now I’ve spent a lot of time around people who own Newcastle – Sir John Hall lived next door to me in Spain, Freddy Shepherd was a big mate of mine, Dougie Hall I still see – so I’ve got an understanding about Newcastle.
“And what I can never understand is the attitude of Newcastle’s perception of themselves that they are actually a big club.
“I’ve always understood them to be a big club… but a big club in Newcastle, and nowhere else.
“This perception of their entitlement to be winning things or competing in the Premier League above the station that they’re at or what they’ve been given.”
Jordan’s Benitez rant on talkSPORT
“I’m not saying I wasn’t impressed by Rafa Benitez, I think he’s done a decent job.
“But I want to call him out for what he is, rather that what people’s illusion of him is…
“I think he’s an ambitious football manager, who is centred on one thing – himself.
“I’m of the mentality that Benitez would have used Newcastle for a stepping stone if a better opportunity in the Premier league came around. He would have gone and not looked back.
“The only reason he’s gone to China is for the money.
“Football may be all about that, and I might be slightly idealistic in my aspiration for it not to be.
“But with Benitez, he’s taken a swipe at Mike Ashley on the way out and I suspect the reason why he’s gone is he cant get exactly what he wants, when he wants it.
“Well, I’ve got a news flash for football managers and football people – in the real world, where most of us have to exist, we can’t get exactly what we want, when we want!”
Other criticism directed at Jordan has been aimed at his alleged support of Ashley, but he insists he is no friend of the under-fire owner and is only being objective – something the Newcastle supporters cannot be.
“Now, I’m not going to support Mike Ashley,” continued Jordan. “Anytime I say something about Newcastle and it seems to be balanced people turn around and say, ‘that’s because you’re Ashley’s mate’.
“He’s not my mate – we’re acquaintances. I knew him 10/15 years ago and I don’t have much to do with Ashley in this day and age.
“But I do have an objective opinion, and I look at what he’s doing and I think Newcastle fans are reasonably entitled to have a little more support at times.
“I think Rafa Benitez did a decent job, but the job he did was the job he was brought in to do; the job he was brought into do was get them back into the Premier League, and he did that, supported by Mike Ashley’s and by Ashley getting him in there in the first place.
“You can look across the north east and what I don’t understand is the vitriol towards Ashley; I know he doesn’t invest as much as he should do, I know he should sell this football club.
“But I tell you what, they’ve got a brilliant chairman at Middlesbrough called Steve Gibson and they’re languishing in the Championship. They’ve got new owners at Sunderland and they’re now in League One, as a result of ownership issues they had in the past.
“It’s not a judgemental point of view, it’s just context.
“There are clubs in the north east that would bit Newcastle fans’ hand off to be in the position they are in, and all I seem to hear from Newcastle is ‘Benitez is wonderful and Ashely is the Devil incarnate’ – and I get a bit tired of fans having a one dimensional opinion.”
Rounding off his lengthy speech, Jordan once again emphasised his opinion of Benitez – saying the only reason he even agreed to become Newcastle manager was because no other jobs were available.
“My view on Benitez is he’s simply done his job and has spun the media up to the point where Rafa Benitez walks on water and is a martyr,” he finished.
“And I believe all he’s ever done has gone to Newcastle because there were not many other opportunities available for him in the Premier League, and done a job that would be a gateway for him to get something else – and as soon as something else has come along it isn’t about integrity, it’s about a big pot of money.
“He’s gone to China for about £12million-a-year… not stayed at Newcastle and continued to work the oracle.”