The Sports Direct tycoon has cultivated a controversial, to say the least, reputation during his time on Tyneside, but Nolan has revealed he has some sympathy for the owner.
“You can’t fault him,” he told talkSPORT [05/06; 08:49]. “We had a bit of a dispute years and years ago when I was there about bonuses, us players. We wanted X amount and he said ‘this is what you’re having and if you don’t want it don’t sign it’.
“That’s the way he is, and I think he’s been like that for the last 10 years. I think when he first came he had great intentions to put Newcastle back on the map, but obviously he’s lost that now and he wants to sell it. But he’s still been able to finance the club and make sure that everything’s still running smoothly.”
This is an interesting take from Nolan, and it comes from a place of experience. Obviously he knows what it’s like to be a player under Ashley and have to try and negotiate things like bonuses from him. Clearly Ashley is blunt and doesn’t like giving way; like Nolan says, he tells you what you’re getting and that’s that. Despite that, though, Nolan seems to have a bit of a grudging respect for Ashley. Clearly he thinks Ashley’s succeeded in running the club decently and keeping things moving smoothly, but are things moving smoothly? The club have lost their best manager since Sir Bobby Robson in Rafael Benitez, one of their very best players in Ayoze Perez to Leicester City, and don’t seem close to appointing a replacement for the Spaniard in the slightest. Is that running smoothly? You’ve got to say no. Pre season is about to get underway in earnest and Newcastle don’t even have a manager. Come on now, Kevin.