Sam Allardyce: I met Mike Ashley only 3 times when I was at Newcastle
Former Newcastle United manager Sam Allardyce said he met owner Mike Ashley only three times during his tenure at St James' Park.
The ex-England boss was appointed by Ashley in May 2007 and was sacked in January of the following year.
Rafael Benitez lasted longer, over three years, but his differences with Newcastle's owner have been well documented, culminating in the announcement of his exit on Monday.
Ashley's decision not to extend the popular Spaniard's contract has resulted in a backlash from the club's supporters and pundits alike.
Allardyce told talkSPORT: "In my short time at Newcastle, I only met Mike maybe three times, and two of those were on a social basis rather than a business basis.
"He put some people together to run the club and expected them to get on with it.
"He wasn't on a day-to-day basis, he wanted to come and watch the games and enjoy himself, rather than get actively involved.
"That happens at a lot of clubs now, where the owners are not the people you actually deal with, and as a manager you have to accept that."
Former Magpies midfielder Kevin Nolan believes 54-year-old Ashley is no longer very invested in the Magpies.
The billionaire is in the midst of trying to sell the club he bought for around £134 million (S$230.8 million) in 2007 to Sheikh Khaled bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates for around £350 million.
Nolan said on Sky Sports: " I don't think Mike is 'in it' now.
"He's not invested as much as he was when he first took over.
"I think you know it's common knowledge now that he is looking to get rid of the club, and I think the sooner, the better."
Former Magpies striker Micky Quinn took a harsher line, telling talkSPORT: "(Benitez's exit is) just another farce in the Mike Ashley tenure.
"The footballing decisions have been diabolical."
Former Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has been linked with the Newcastle job, should the Emirati takeover take place as expected.
But he seemed to rule himself out of the running, telling The Coaches' Voice that "finishing ninth is not in my nature" and that "I need a project where the feeling is I play to win".
Ex-Feyenoord boss Giovanni van Bronckhorst, however, has expressed interest in the post.