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Is Mike Ashley doing a good job?

Posted on February 18th, 2011 | 55 Comments |

Ashley and Llambias
Dynamic duo or terrible two?
Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley has always divided opinion in the past, but what do we think of him now?

The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy had some advice inscribed on the front of it for galactic residents challenged by such things as hyperspace bypasses, Vogon poetry, Ravenous Bugblatter Beasts and The Triple-Breasted Whore of Eroticon Six. It simply said: ‘Don’t Panic’.

I’m wondering if the same advice should be appear on the front of The Supporter’s Guide To Newcastle United. Or maybe ‘Divvent Panic’ would be better.

The reason I say this is because, as ever, there seems to be a divide between fans as to whether Ashley is right for the club, whether Pardew is any good, whether selling Carroll was good or bad, whether selling Enrique would be good, etc. etc. etc.

So what I’d like to do is look at the situation without emotion or sentiment.

Mike Ashley has made mistakes, which is evident by the fact that we were relegated if nothing else. His choices of personnel – be it the managers he’s appointed or Dennis Wise as Director of Football – has caused many an argument, but a lot of those arguments are subjective. Yet relegation actually happened and Ashley must take the blame for that.

As to his on/off attempts to sell the club and his forays into communicating with the fans, well, they’ve been pretty bad sometimes. After he responded to the fans’ demands for more communication from the board and started talking to us – or at least getting Llambias to do so – we were soon hoping he’d shut up again. He had such a prolific habit of putting his foot in his mouth that he allegedly kept his slippers on his tongue.

However, after relegation we came straight back up again. Sure, the players who did not want to be there were sold but Ashley retained the services of many an expensive player and it paid dividends and got us back in the Premier League at the first attempt.

Then fast forward to this season. Survival is enough for any newly promoted side and yet we’re in the top half and even within striking distance of a bash at a European place. That’s more than I expected this season.

Players come and go in football teams. It happens. We’ve lost players like Beye, Bassong, Milner and Carroll, yet gained players like Tiote, Ben Arfa, Simpson and Ireland. So, are we better off? Again, that’s open to interpretation.

A lot of people question Mike Ashley’s motives. Is he genuinely trying to put the club on a sound financial footing and encourage success on the pitch or is he simply trying to make the club a good proposition to buy so that he can line his own pockets (or at least get his money back)?

I simply don’t know. I have no idea how things will pan out but I do think that ‘Divvent Panic’ is good advice, at least until we see what the summer and the beginning of next season brings.

I have been critical of Ashley in the past – and I still am sometimes – but the jury is still out as far as I’m concerned. I think time will reveal more and in the interim it’s best not to jump to too many conclusions.

That’s my view without emotion or sentiment, although I draw the line at Derek Llambias. I can’t talk about him without emotion and sentiment and can rant for hours about the man. But I’ll spare you and simply allow myself a ‘Llambias oot’!

But let’s just see what fans actually think about Ashley now.

Poll

NUFCBlog Author: Hugh de Payen I'm a baby-boomer of the punk rock persuasion, currently exiled in Somerset for crimes committed in a previous life where locals keep trying to poison me with something called 'scrumpy'. Hates sprouts, coat-hangers, Cilla Black, ornaments, Steven Seagull movies and 50 Cent (he's not worth 10). Hugh de Payen has written 634 articles on this blog.

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55 Responses

  1. The same question could be asked of any owner of any club & you’ll get fans who argue the toss on both sides of the coin….

    I think the only owner which fans don’t argue over are those type that come in, spend money like its going out of fashion & keep out of the limelight, oh dear, I’ve just described Manc Citey haven’t I… lol ;)

    Personally, I think we could do worse than what we have & in a few seasons time, we’ll be running smoothly, but as to whether Ashley is a great owner, I’ll wait & see :)

  2. Fans have to understand that the club is MA’s, he can do what he thinks is best for him or the club. We can kick and scream all we like but the fact reamins its not our club we dont own any % of it no matter how we try to justify it being our club. We are not forced to buy tickets or merchandise. Alot of self employed people would not be happy if they had people constantly telling them how to run their business, who are not business people but angry emotional people.

    After all MA is a billionaire so he must have done a lot right to be one and his business is reporting 12% profit already crushing his rival at Wigan Mr Whelans company.

    Selling AC was a shock but, we got 30mill in cash not on the never never, and the same will happen if Enrique goes. Newcastle need to have this ‘Put up or shut up’ approach to business. And anyway if a plyer wants to leave what are AP & MA supposed to do, bow down to him? thats blackmail and lets be honest Enrique is slagging us off at the moment so making it difficult to stay.

    MA has done a lot for us, we will be ok for the fair trade rules and debt free, NUFC running at a profit and maybe in Europe in a few years… yes if we stay on firm financial ground.

  3. Wait until the summer, If he spends wisely and shows ambition then all will be forgotten.

    If he fails to spend and players are disillusioned they will leave. This will be the final nail in his and owlheeds coffin for me.

    It’s all down to his promises, Europe, Arsenal model etc. He’s got money now and a decent side, now its time to push on…we’ll see

  4. It’s so easy to objectify someone these days and certainly Mike Ashley has come in for some stick. What we lose sight of sometimes is that NUFC is an all encompassing passion for a lot of people and seeing past the veneer is very difficult to do. Certainly some decisions have been baffling (let’s not go into them here as it’s been said and done), and MA hasn’t exactly covered himself in glory in those. At what cost though? Yes, we sufffered relegation under MA and DL and if anyone for an instance thought that these two men didn’t see this as a disaster for them both financially and on a personal level then I ask you to shake yourself into reality. We have now got to the point where events off the field have taken over events on it in the last few weeks.

    What needs to be looked at is the bigger picture. MA stated he has a 5 year plan for NUFC. The protagonists will say ‘To run the club down’. Again, give yourself a shake. This was never going to be a marriage made in heaven straight away, the past mistakes of FS and co needed to be rectified or NUFC would have ceased to be solvent – ie administration and oblivion. MA needs applauding for addressing these issues immediately. This was the main problem to be solved in the long term – the old adage of “Short term pain for long term gain” springs to mind.

    There will be other decisions made on the footballing side which will garner further anger and ridicule at MA I’ve no doubt but I’m taking a step back and looking at it objectively now – it’s the only way.

    If it’s right in 5 years time (well, 2 years now, isn’t it?) then I’m prepared to hold my hands up and say I was wrong. The other side to this arguement, is not worth thinking about…

  5. He is a complete wnker!
    Its simple really, are we doing ok in the league? yes we are. Is it due to investment and good management – nope. We are only team in the entire universe to have gained revenue on players since cashley has been in.
    Not just a small amount either, he is nearly 40 million in the black on what he has made from sales outbound to incoming. Thats pretty cool trading as it means he has also kept every red cent that would normally have been spare for players in summer window.
    However, Personally, i think it was great business getting ride of carroll for 35 million, really i do. He is just not worth it and i find in madness that some outfit has paid it, the world has gone nuts ffs.
    I am sick of hearing people bang on about him sorting out the books from our previous custodian blah blah. I dont care tbh, in the same way ashley dont care if you are having a tight month and cant pay the morgage on your home. I am a footy supporter, and a newcastle one too, this makes us the best of the best. I dont seek huge investment, i agree that ashley should be entitled to makes some cash out of the club, thats only fair. However, i do think he needs to open his friggin wallet in the summer, the greedy fat knacker. Stop fleecing the club fatty!!!!!

  6. craig chisholm says:
    February 18, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    He is a complete wnker!

    ====

    I’m guessing that’s a no vote then!

  7. I’ve said from the beginning, several times on here in fact, our issue isn’t Ashley its owl heed, i forget the bloke in front of llambias’ name but there was no problem when he was here – it all went downhill when llambias took over
    it’s still the case, Llambias is pulling the strings and Ashleys biggest fault is he’s dumb enough not to push the twat over the balcony from the top of the stand

  8. lads us newcastle fans are greedy..lets get this straight..are 5 year plan was to get into top6-7..then first year stay up…i said b4 the season started..if we get enough ball we would score goals..but i didnt think we would get as many as we have..becasue we are in the top 10 all expections have changed..we have banked 35 mil..these stories that come out about enrique are crap..when did he or newcastle ever say we were trying for europe..and becasue carrol has been sold we might not get their..sorry nobdy thought carrol would be such a big strom and go for that money..paper shit who hate us doing well..

  9. Time for MA to go and I have disliked his ways from very early on in his tenure.
    All we want is honsty and investment and players that work their socks of should be paid the going rate otherwise they will all be gone once they find a bit of form-think Barton,Carrol,Enrique,Jonas all being linked away from the club after a decent run of form.

    I don’t want to go down the old road of paying crazy money but come MA show some intent….Cookie Monster,Gosling Crocked,Perch,Ireland on loan from Villa crocked,selling our prized asset just as the window closes was fookin madness.

    This could be such a good honest club with direction,stability,sensible investment in youth and senior level and backing the manager and his scouting staff 100%.

  10. Sorry Toon eye I don’t go along with “it’s Ashleys club and he can do what he likes with it”.A football club is funded by people who show an interest or affection to the club(Fans).He might own NUFC but it should never be his to do what he likes with.

  11. “Unpredictable” is the best word that can summarize MA and NEWCASTLE UTD. We can’t predict what will happen both of inside and outside the pitch.

    For the start of this season I think most of us, even our players happy to take 17th position and stay up to the league next season and look at now ? Some of our players and supporter bemoan and question about our ambition to Europe (even UCL, you know that).

    I know Carroll case is hurt. It’s good business but bad football reason. I don’t know how to justice this is good or bad deal now, We have to wait and see how well we can do with 35m from him in next transfer market. Time will tell.

    But for now, focus only our next game is the most important. We still not reach the target yet and we will be together and see how far we can go.

    I don’t know who will come, who will leave next season but I can say We need only player who happy and want to be here, To play football, Proud to be team, We are Geordies, We are Newcastle Utd. and nobody bigger than this !

  12. Oh and I’m more than happy if we try to sign Diego from Wolfburg. I think he will interest to join PRM after his unsuccessful career there. (I think he face the same situation as Ben Arfa)

  13. When it has all been said and done it has been proven time and time again that Mike Ashley will do what is right for him financially and not what is in the best interests of NUFC.

    Newcastle United Feeder Club.

  14. Ashley will spend in the summer we will get around 8-9 new players in the summer, this is including youngsters for the acadamy, Ashley will spend around £40 million players have been earmarked and if my informants are correct (which they usually are) then you will also see enrigue STAYING at NUFC and signing a very good contract in the very near future, please don’t believe everything you read in the papers

  15. @ Mick G,

    I cant see MA being the type of guy he is purposefully ruining NUFC, we might not like how he does some things and have an out cry, a fans right of course.

    However what law or legislation is there in Newcastle council to stop him doing as he wants, because so far no one has stopped him, and just because we invest into something of our choice, dosent make it ours per say. Is NUFC a PLC?

    I think MA is as unpredictable as the next fan, this time next week we could be in the grip of new owners. But maybe its better the Devil you know..

  16. tooneye says:
    February 18, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    “Is NUFC a PLC?”

    Not any more, Tooneye. It was under the Hall / Shepherd regime, but now it’s all Ashley’s.

  17. Seems to me that MA knows how to make money in the rag trade. It is his nature to try to apply that ability to any venture he is associated with. He has lost money by being relegated and will need several years to recover from that. That means selling at “over market” prices and finding bargains. But I think he now has the staff that will advise so that relegation will not be a concern by selling off too many quality lads. Somehow, I also think that he will not allow too many moves so as to “lose the dressing room” – opting to slow the financial recovery to keep some spirit with in the squad and hope for the fans. IMHO, NUFC could make Europa while still on the financial recovery program due to others ledgers being in far worse shape. (Just imagine where Liverpool will be if they don’t make Europa this year, or even next.)

  18. Look at the form book – he’s a fcking prick who is only in it for his own good.

    I cannot see him investing much money in the playing staff, afterall why change a habit of a lifetime.

    It’s what happens on the pitch that’s important not off it.

  19. He’s made mistakes (as all owners do) and been rightly criticised for them.

    We do need to remember he inherited a sinking ship … and the first period of his reign was fraught with cock ups and blunders.

    However he may well have got the hang of this ownership thing, because I have enjoyed last season and this … and long may it continue.

    The tanker (no … I did spell that right) seems to have turned and there are good times ahead … :)

  20. Back to Jose’s [Sun] reported comments that the club’s going nowhere (my word) here’s a little something that mght just show that we’re getting something right off the field!

    http://nz.sports.yahoo.com/football/news/article/-/8870172/pardew-admits-newcastle-match-analysis-not-up-to-scratch/

    Undersoil heating for example won’t come cheap and it’s to MA’s credit that he’s even allowing Pardew to think along the lines of installing it under the training pitch.

  21. shrews mag says:
    February 18, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    You’vre enjoyed the club sacking it’s manager (again) and selling our star player who had a hiuge future here?

    If he’s getting a hang of this ownership thing why hasn’t he explained his plans for the club before expecting people to commit to a 10 year season ticket deal? Why hasn’t he or Llambias accepted the numerous offers to meet supporter groups or do interviews with the papers so they can explain what we’re going to get for our ten year commitment?

  22. Stuart79 says:
    February 18, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    “It’s what happens on the pitch that’s important not off it.”

    Of course, what happens on the pitch is the most important thing, but surely both are inextricably linked, Stuart? It’s what happens off the pitch that makes things happen on it.

  23. workyticket says:
    February 18, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    Under normal circumstances, yes, but I don’t trust Ashley to transfer financial gain off the pitch into good players on it.

  24. Ginkoh says:
    February 18, 2011 at 2:30 pm
    For 10 yrs season ticket price freeze, It doesn’t mean we have to pay for 10 yrs at once, aren’t we?

    No, but you have to make a commitment for at least one season in advance (I think). I think we actually deserve to know what the plans for the club are and what the regime’s hopes for the club are before we even commit for one season.

    Do you not?

  25. there has been plenty of mention so far of MA taking cash out of the club to line his own pocket. . but is there actually any evidence for this? hasnt he given the club a loan (interest free) of circa 100 million?

    i know pretty much every decsion he has made on a footballing basis has been terrible but financially at least we seem to have things in order now. no daft expenditure on transfer fees or over the top wages, a massive reduction in debt and showing we will hold out for top prices in the transfer market.

    in the summer we will have 30million to spend whether thats on wages to keep jose, tiote etc, new players or reducing debt i dont really care. after all if we can run efficiently and achieve good growth on the field without spending big cash on players just for the sake of it and therefore reduce the debt burden we are surely going to be a better prospect to buy for another owner? which lets face it, is what everyone wants – including mike ashley.

  26. JS says:
    February 18, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    Where does it say he has taken money out of the club?

    Also how has the debt been reduced? It is still £100m…

  27. too right it’s not a plc,ashley would not have got away with half the things he’s done,if the club was still a plc.
    as for mike ashley doing a good job?depennds on which angle you want to view it from.
    if ashley putting in his own money to protect his investment,thus in turn the club are not going to go into admin etc,then yes the pro ashley brigade may have a point.
    looking at it from a normal fans point of view,ashley has done nearly everything wrong on the side that counts,on the pitch.
    it’s all well and good having a great bank balance,but what good is that to you ,when your fourth bottom of the league say?can a 35 mill cheque perform on the pitch,can it bollox.
    every transfer window that’s passed since he turned up,i’ve heard fans say; oh it’s early days,oh we’re waiting for the right kind of player etc,only to be let down once again by this shady regime,we’ve had on decent transfer window since he turned up,and that was when we were in the second tier,so that tells it’s own story.
    i have never liked mike ashley from day one,and i have stood by my opinion ever since,i have fallen out with family members etc,who’ll inform me of their five year plans etc,and any other of their time buying lies,and the use of geordie jingoism to get people onside.
    they even have pardew arse kissing like there’s no tomorrow atm,but like everything involving that regime,it’s as transparent as a window
    as for the 35 mill being spend in the summer,well we’ll get stateement released in the summmer that will have a 101 different ways of trying to decipher,what they really mean,how most will go towards operating costs,some will go into this non existant academy they’re
    supposed to be involved in,i would love to know how many young players ashley has brought into the academy himself,and how many othersa he is taking credit for,who were already there before he arrived?
    i would love to know the exact amount of young players ashley has brought into the club during his tenure,as we keep hearing about this so called scouting network.
    there does not seem to be many what i’ve seen
    aaron spears
    nile ranger
    harris vukic
    what happened to caio ferrerro
    fabio zamblera
    so where’s all these scouted kids? utter s***e imo,more lies in buying time for themselves.
    we will probably get our customary flotsam and jetsom who other clubs dont want,and possibly lose players,like jose,tiote etc,but we will be told they asked for too much money,when in reality they will be forced out the door,with the club using it’s now ploy of turning fans against former players and former heroes etc.
    to try and extracate themselves from the situations,they are delibratley creating.
    the sad thing is though a lot of fans are falling for the lies,the smoke screens,the downright skullduggery,and besmirching of some peoples characters,who have served this club admirably in the past.it really is a sad state of affairs that newcastle united find themselves in,under such a tin pot dictator like michael wallace ashley.

  28. Overall, I think the club is better off and in better hands than when MA took over. We now have a promising foundation but the next stage (this summer) is going to be a critical moment. Do we choose to keep the likes of Enrique, Tiote etc. by paying them what other clubs would be offering to pay them as well as buy 3-4 Premier league quality players, thereby showing a genuine determination to climb into the top six as a minimum, or do we allow our best players to leave with MA pocketing the cash (no doubt “his cash” in his eyes) and thereby keep swinging in the middle levels of the division next season? Such lack of footballing ambition would no doubt cause other star players to also consider their long-term future at the club. This is the all important question, at least for now. As a fan, I would rather see the former. I suspect the board will opt for the latter and we will continue to have more of the same for the foreseeable future.

  29. @27 Stuart79

    I was referring to the football and the general positive feeling about the club. “It’s what happens on the pitch that’s important not off it.”

    I wasn’t too pleased when CH got sacked, but I genuinely believe we are better now than we were when he was at the helm.

    I wasn’t too pleased when we sold AC, but I genuinely believe that we got a good deal at £35m (and if you believe the red tops an additional 25%) and Ashley would have been daft to refuse it.

  30. Danny-boy has it spot on. Ashley, when he sticks to his job and keeps his fingers out of all things football, does pretty well.

    Unfortunately, he does stick his fingers in, and even worse – hires ignoramuses to run that side of things.

    Ashley, as the bloke that carries the can for it all, scores an averaged out, um… medium. For me, anyway.

    His early decision making: bad. Terrible.
    His business vision and model: good.
    His willingness to put good money after bad to put things right: good. (It’s the reason we’re here and not in the Conference or non-existent altogether)
    His communications: bad. Inexcusably bad.
    His appointments: awful (Llambias, Wise, one or two managers and the comms manager especially)
    His direct decision-making to do with football: bad. Petulent, reactionary, egotistical.

    Llambias has to take most of the blame for a lot of the above, not Ashley. At least Ashley came out and admitted to mistakes and apologised. And he’s done some damn fine things – including stuff we all disagreed with – that have turned out very well.

    His worst mistake is persisting with his owl-headed mate in charge. We need someone with an appropriate cv, not an appropriate drinking circle.

  31. Paul in Hollywood says:
    February 18, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    “Overall, I think the club is better off and in better hands than when MA took over.”

    Saying the club is in better hands than it was under the Beast of Byker isn’t saying much though, Paul.

  32. I think it’s the obvious cronyism that pisses me and a lot of people off. You can’t get much more sleazy than running Newcastle United based on who you know in some oily casino in London. It’s like a re-make of that film ‘Goal’ directed by Guy Ritchie. With fatter actors.

  33. “We do need to remember he inherited a sinking ship … and the first period of his reign was fraught with cock ups and blunders. ”

    Inherited my ‘arris!
    Mr Greedy bought the club with an eye to making a quick sale and profit and was caught with his pants down by not doing due diligence before buying.
    The proof of his greed and delusion is borne out by his pathetic efforts at selling NUFC to some Arabs for £400million.

  34. Ambition is not how much money you spend but about the success you want to achieve with the least amount of resources available. Spending less with the objective of achieving more is ambitious.

    If you ask me that is what Ashley is doing so he is ambitious.

    I have to side with him on this one.

  35. Intresting overview and raises the right questions.
    Is ashley a bad guy ?
    Got his flaws like most of us.
    The question often arises, why did he buy the club ?
    Is he interested in using it, as some claim, to be a money earner ?
    A rich mans toy ?
    Or did he think it was a bargain, that could be sold on at a profit ?
    At present we have expierienced a not too happy history with our owner, apart from the early, doon the quayside drinking with the fans honeymoon.
    And unfortunately a lot of mistakes have accured since then, leaving him with an adveserial relationship with probably a majority of fans.
    IMO most problems have arisen because of a lack of top management, on the job training for both he and Llambias, both having had little or no knowledge of the game.
    One obvious mitake was the cold firing of the very guy who saved his ass, my understanding was Llambias simple in a one minute period told Hughton, “we have decided to go in a different direction” no explaination, nothing, how cold is that ?
    Especially after all the guy had accomplished.
    Then compounding it with the hiring of his choice of yes man, birds of a feather, comes to mind.
    So now what ?
    Ashley has to decide what direction to take, are we going to be a selling team, content with mid table PL status and attempt to recoup some or all of the funds spent on the side ?
    Or will he attempt to build a competitive side and challenge for silverware and a spot in european competition ?
    Is he perhaps still interested in selling the side ?
    Whichever direction he decides, (most fans would no doubt prefer either of the last two)we should be aware of by summer, why ?
    There`s obviously unrest in the dressing room, whether it has to do with the manager, money, lack of ambition, you name it ?
    And a number of players have posponed any contractual talks until these questions are resolved.
    Some are unhappy with the lack of ambition, others have obviously had their heads turned by the press and possibly by other clubs and we could be looking at a mass clearout, whether desired or not.
    There is the nucleus of a competitive side that with a few shrewd buys could be competing for a top six spot next season or a side that has sold some of their best players and who will struggle to survive the drop again.
    Afraid those are the choices, lets see which way we go ?

  36. chuck says:
    February 18, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    “The question often arises, why did he buy the club ?
    Is he interested in using it, as some claim, to be a money earner ?
    A rich mans toy ?”

    Chuck, he said that he bought it because he wanted to have a bit of fun, or something similar.

    Quite a few Americans seem to buy sports clubs in general with the aim of turning a profit, but many others seem to buy them as a publicity vehicle for other things, eg Mike Ashley with Sports Direct, Man City with their Abu Dhabi brands such as “Etihad”, “Etisalat” etc.

  37. There’s a hell of a lot of conjecture & speculation about what may or may not go on in the boards head & what may or may not have been said here.

    Some fantasy, some hearsay, some heresy, some bollox & some attempts to fit an argument around events.
    It’s only a suggestion, but, press reset everybody.

    Cardiac arrest!
    :)

  38. An earthquake measuring 8.5 on the ricter scale devastated sunderland today causing £3.25 worth of damage,eye witness debbie aged 16 mother of 3,said it woz well fuc king scary I dropped my can of stella & my little lads hands were shaking that much he could not even roll a joint!

  39. WORKY
    Yes I had considered that!
    “BRANDS” are all important these days, to have a registered brand is tremendusly important in the world of retailing.
    With billions spent protecting them from piracy.
    I suppose there could have been an association with the two, specifically in advertising and with both being sports related.

  40. @42 Peter Manners
    Inherited my ‘arris!

    Regardless of whether MA did due dillegence or not … we were in dire straights when he bought us … surely you recognise this …???

  41. shrews mag how much debt did we have and how much of it was the morgage on the ground ,how much debt are bolton in ?

  42. Batty – there are different figures wherever you look. But my understanding is that we were many many millions in debt when he took over.

    It would appear that we are now in the black (albeit temporarily if MA does as he says and spends the £35m in the summer ;) ).

    Bolton are also many millions in debt, and their revenue (sale of tickets merchandise etc) is much worse than ours.

  43. mike is doing a great job i think the geordie seems to think they should be in the champs lge every year when its not possible. dont forget newcastles ave gate in 1981 was 14.000 and in 1991 ave gate was 15.000 only when sky came in did you believe your own hype and start this big club thing which frankly no one in football understands dont get me wrong newcastle are a premier club in every sense of the word but the geordie expects too much to soon. this is where mike comes in he hasnt always got it right but he is taking you in the right direction 35 million for a carroll was brilliant business for a player who is on par with kevin davies at bolton. just let mike get on with things hes donig a good job

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