Alan Shearer believes the appointment of Joe Kinnear as Newcastle's director of football has turned the club into a laughing stock.
Kinnear has wasted little time in making his presence felt with a series of free-ranging interviews which have hardly enhanced his reputation as he struggled to pronounce the names of some of his players, as well as managing director Derek Llambias.
Former Newcastle striker Shearer wrote in the Sun: "Where do we start? What I do know is that right now people are laughing at the football club I support. And that sickens me. I promised myself years ago never to be surprised by what happens in football - particularly when it comes to Newcastle."
He added: "But this situation really is stretching it a bit. While other clubs are all plotting and planning for next season, Newcastle have a manager who has just been totally undermined. Alan Pardew has said he will carry on but I am sure it will be a difficult situation."
Llambias subsequently resigned after learning that the 66-year-old Irishman would assume some of his duties under a surprise shake-up of the club's football activities instigated by sportswear tycoon Ashley.
Kinnear met manager Pardew on Tuesday for the first time since he was installed, and the pair are said to have held amicable talks over the way forward. But Shearer believes Pardew's public silence on the matter is telling.
"His silence on the appointment of Kinnear himself over recent days said it all," Shearer wrote. "But what could he say? He is in such an intolerable position. He can't come out and slaughter his employers but at the same time he can't agree with a situation which no manager would find comfortable."
Former Newcastle chairman Sir John Hall has urged the club to get its act together for the sake of its shocked and angry fans.
He told the Chronicle: "I'm shocked at the news that Kinnear has been appointed and Derek Llambias is going. It certainly makes you wonder what's going on behind the scenes at Newcastle United Football Club. There's a man in charge there who knows what's going on, but for many of the fans, they will be feeling anger and shock.
"I think everyone just hopes that it will be resolved quickly because the start of the season is upon us. Unless you know what's going on behind the scenes, it's difficult to know exactly what has happened. These things happen in football - they certainly happened in my day - but we have got to hope that they are able to quickly resolve it for the start of the season."