Ex-Arsenal star Paul Merson on Newcastle United and Mike Ashley

St James Park

Former Arsenal attacker Paul Merson says that Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley will be happy if the team just stayed in the Premier League.

Paul Merson has said on the Sky Sports’ Gillette Soccer Saturday show that he does not think that Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley has any plans to make the team competitive.

Ashley has been at Newcastle since 2007, but the Magpies have failed to finish in the top four of the Premier League in any of the seasons.

Newcastle even dropped down to the Championship at the end of the 2008-09 campaign, although they ended up in fifth spot in 2011-12.

The Magpies are largely an also-ran team in the Premier League, and former Arsenal attacker Merson does not expect that to change anytime soon.

“Yeah, yeah, he is a businessman, isn’t he?” Merson said on the Sky Sports’ Gillette Soccer Saturday show when asked if Ashley will be pleased if Newcastle finish fourth from bottom.

“I don’t know the man, but he cannot sit down with me and say: ‘I am here to take the team forward and get them into the top four’.

“Of course, he doesn’t. He named the stadium after his company. Why would he do that? This club has been going for a gillion years.”

Newcastle are set to finish in mid-table in the Premier League this season, with the future of head coach John Carver still wrapped up in uncertainty.

The Englishman replaced Alan Pardew in the managerial hot seat in the middle of the season and was given a contract until the summer.

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