Newcastle owner Mike Ashley wants blood after last season's trauma - and it won't stop with managing director Derek Llambias

Owner has not forgiven those who forced him to spend £40m on relegation struggle and Joe Kinnear is his way of fighting back

There are 40 million reasons why Mike Ashley has stopped listening to anyone who was at St James' Park last season: £40m is the amount Newcastle United have spent since they finished fifth in the Premier League at the end of the 2011-12 season. That is how much it cost the club's owner to endure a season spent fighting relegation.

He felt all campaign that the Europa League was a waste of time and money. He felt all season that there were too many excuses and not enough reasons for such a spectacular nosedive in form and results from the previous year, and to add insult to his financial and the team's physical injury, the deals for Moussa Sissoko and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa were accelerated from this summer's transfer plans.

The two signings are reckoned to have cost around £15m because of the need to keep the side in the Premier League. Ashley was pressurised by those inside the club to bring them forward and the transfers were not supposed to cost anything like that.

Sissoko would have been available for nothing this summer if Newcastle had waited, but such was the gravity of their situation that Ashley, who made a rare appearance to watch the side lose at home to fellow strugglers Reading on 19 January, had to act.

Newcastle had to overspend to save their necks. Club insiders claim £33m was spent in that crazy month on fees for transfers, signing-on agreements and agents, when five French players – Mathieu Debuchy, Massadio Haïdara, Yoan Gouffran, Yanga-Mbiwa and Sissoko – arrived on Tyneside.

More than £7m in total had been spent on the deal to sign Vurnon Anita in the previous transfer window. Papiss Cissé, again on the recommendation of chief scout Graham Carr, managing director Derek Llambias and manager Alan Pardew, had arrived six months before Anita, for £9m. His goalscoring form – 13 goals in 13 games – pushed Newcastle to the brink of the Champions League. All that investment and, in particular, the January spending spree were not supposed to create a team barely good enough to stay in England's top division.

For that, blood had to be spilt on to the St James' carpets. Llambias fell on his sword this morning, announcing his resignation in a brief statement. He had been Ashley's lieutenant, the man who championed the hugely controversial changing of the name of club's ground, the man who pushed for the Wonga shirt sponsorship to be accepted, despite huge reservations around the city.

Llambias was the Sports Direct eyes and ears in the North-east. It is now believed he offered his resignation more than a week ago. In the rambling rhetoric of Joe Kinnear's radio interview were hidden certain truths. Llambias's unwillingness to accept the appointment of the former Wimbledon manager was one of them.

After a weekend of bombshells (Fabricio Coloccini promising Pardew he would stay, the claim and then denial of Yohan Cabaye being in Monaco for a medical, Kinnear's announcement he would be director of football, Pardew's determination not to be forced out) came one from Llambias. He was no longer on board with Ashley. Llambias, the former Fifty Club casino manager, the Newcastle owner's drinking partner, could not follow Ashley's path any longer. That in itself is dramatic enough.

Now Carr's future is uncertain. Carr, who is 68 and lives in Northampton, was flown with his wife to Ashley's mansion in Majorca last summer. He was stunned when the offer of an eight-year deal was put to him. At that point Ashley thought he had discovered the magic formula for a football club. Carr, with a huge list of contacts, could unearth talent on the cheap. He could do no wrong.

On Monday, as he pushed for the signing of the Brazilian defender Douglas, a deal that was supposed to happen last summer, the new structure kicked in. Carr had been overruled. With that, there was a realisation of the size of change taking place at the club. His future at this point is unresolved.

Only Pardew has vowed privately to fight on. His position is more complex. This time last year his reputation was at its peak, his rejuvenation after spells at Southampton and Charlton restored. He was Manager of the Year then. His eight-year deal, along with that of his staff, came three months after Carr's, in September last year.

Since then, his standing has plummeted. Ashley was not impressed when, towards last season's finish, Pardew said everyone at the club – including the owner – needed to accept blame for the way things had gone.

His pay-off, were he to be fired, would be hefty. Ashley had to pay Sam Allardyce and his backroom staff more than £4.5m when he was sacked in 2008. Kevin Keegan cost £2m when he successfully sued for unfair dismissal.

Now, it is Kinnear who is the eyes and ears of Ashley inside the training ground. Pardew's authority has been undermined substantially by his presence. Kinnear has called the shots verbally so far. If he steps on the toes of Pardew and the Newcastle first team he is contracted to manage, then another legal battle awaits.

Ashley's antics: Toon controversies

January 2008: Wise arrives

Ashley names Dennis Wise executive director, putting manager Kevin Keegan in an uncomfortable position. Keegan resigns eight months later, prompting protest by Newcastle fans, who call Ashley and Wise the "Cockney Mafia".

September 2008: Kinnear's first coming

Appoints Joe Kinnear interim manager and he wins just four of his 18 games before Alan Shearer takes over in April 2009.

November 2009: Stadium name

Renames the ground the @ St James' Park Stadium, sparking anger from supporters, who label the idea a "nightmare".

December 2010: Hughton sacking

Sacks manager Chris Hughton, even though he guided the club back to the Premier League the previous season.

October 2012: Sponsorship deal

Club sign a controversial sponsorship deal with pay-day loans company Wonga, causing outrage among fans and local politicians.

French connection: The stars Carr took to Newcastle

1. Yohan Cabaye

Signed from French club Lille for £5m on a five-year deal in June 2011. The midfielder has scored 10 goals in 60 games for Newcastle.

2. Cheick Tioté

Ivory Coast international signed from Dutch champions FC Twente in August 2010 for £3.5m and has won rave reviews in midfield.

3. Hatem Ben Arfa

Initially signed on loan from Marseilles in August 2010 and made the move permanent in January 2011.

4. Papiss Cissé

Signed from Bundesliga club Freiburg on a five-and-a-half-year deal for £10m, the Senegal striker has scored 21 goals in 50 games. Carr also picked out French players Sylvain Marveaux, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and Moussa Sissoko.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Angel Di Maria is shown the red card
Roger Federer after his win over Tomas Berdych
Life and Style
News in briefs: big pants in 'Bridget Jones's Diary'
fashionBig knickers are back
James Milner is set to sign for Liverpool this week despite rival interest from Arsenal
sportReds baulk at Benteke £32.5m release clause
The controversial Motor Neurone Disease Association poster, featuring sufferer Michael Smith, has drawn a series of angry complaints
newsThis one has been criticised for its 'threatening tone'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral