Whelan says Ashley, who’s trying to sell the club, deserves the criticism he’s received of late following Kevin Keegan’s resignation and protests by supporters.
Whelan said: “The fans up there eat, breathe and live for one thing, and that is Newcastle United.
“Unless you put your whole heart into it, are a 100% Geordie and are backing them, they will give you some stick. He has got it, and he deserves it.”
Whelan added: “I know Mike Ashley quite well as I was running JJB when he was with Sports Direct, and he is a bit unusual.
“He is a very good retailer, but at managing a football club, no. Especially with him being a Tottenham supporter and then going up to Newcastle, a club that is a different kettle of fish to most in the land.”