I can’t remember which match it was, it was at the apex before our slide (not much of an apex).
Pardew had just left and John Carver was a couple of matches into his reign (or shower, you might call it).
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The bloke who sits behind me has had a face like a slapped arse for the last 3 or 4 seasons, he constantly bemoans the team, often criticising the set-up on the pitch just before kick-off and maintaining this negative attitude right up to the final whistle. He seems to draw more pleasure from us losing than winning, indeed, when Colback equalised in the game against Tottenham he just sat there and said ‘he was offside, shouldn’t have counted’.
Now, I can understand as well as anyone why he is unhappy with the club, with Ashley, and I understand that he may have issues at home, but this attitude is poison. Divide et impera in other words, divide and rule may not have been Mike Ashley’s intention at the outset, but blimey, that is certainly what he has achieved.
When I started attending matches regularly as a young teenager, Kevin Keegan had us playing beautiful football and everyone was on board, we had a reputation as the world’s best fans and the noise inside SJP was deafening. The following years have reduced us to a squabbling mess, with the atmosphere sucked out of our famous stadium and people like the bloke behind me turning their back on supporting the team, but continuing to attend matches in some morbid attempt at Masochism.
I have mentioned before that I am an optimist, and I always try to see reason in situations regardless of my emotions, and it is this logical reasoning that makes me wonder why this man continues to pay to come and watch something he clearly does not enjoy? The boycotts are all good and well, but if things are so bad, why did we have the highest attendance of the day at that match?
It’s quite simple, if you don’t enjoy something, don’t pay, don’t go. So, it makes me think I mustn’t be alone in my optimism, the other tens of thousands who continue to attend MUST do so for a reason, and it is the same reason John Carver continues to lead the team when any sane man would walk away.
If I came to work and was booed by nearly every person there, had abuse hurled at me and newspapers and blogs constantly telling me I was sh*t at my job, I’d probably think ‘sod this, I’ve made enough money to be comfortable now (if I earned what JC does) I’m going back to Canada’, but he doesn’t, and the reason isn’t money, it’s love, as a Geordie.
The guy behind me who had been calling Pardew a Cockney tw*t the last few years, had started calling Stone, Beardsley and Carver ‘rent-a-Geordies’ and abusing them because they are Geordie!
Would he prefer to have a midlander perhaps? Or maybe a nice Spaniard or Frenchman? Just as long as it is someone with no connection to the area…
This last statement will be met with an inevitable retort ‘but we just want someone with tactical nous and some decent qualifications’, true, and Carver clearly isn’t the right man for the job, short or long-term, but he’s in the job and that’s a fact.
If he left, who would come in? Realistically, which nutcase with the required nous and qualifications would take us for the last few games of the season? Harry Redknapp? Joe Kinnear? Ossie Ardiles? Seriously, what do you expect?
Then, it’s Carver, and at this point it’s worth noting that, due to serious mismanagement at a more senior level, Carver has had a crappy hand dealt to him. The team were tumbling, half the defence was/is missing, three of our best players are missing (De Jong, Cisse and surprisingly, Aarons) and the one shining light in an otherwise rubbish season, Perez, was tired out. Hand me the polish, this turd is melting.
A friend of mine is quite into yoga and general ‘right on’ type stuff, she always says that anger, disappointment and fear are negative emotions, and that negative emotions serve no other purpose than to breed negativity and ultimately and self-fulfillingly, negative results. In the case of NUFC I happen to agree.
People have a choice whether or not to attend matches, and I’d like to think that if you choose to attend and support the team, you do just that, support them.
Support John Carver, the Geordie who is desperately trying to fix things. Support the good name of Newcastle United, which is getting dragged through the dirt.
If you don’t feel like supporting the team, then don’t go to matches. I care about the team, I want them to win, I want to encourage them when they do something well, and help them get back on their feet when they make a mistake.
I want the players to feel proud of putting on the shirt, to want to fight for the loyal supporters who cheer them through thick or thin, not worry about what abuse they will receive, not shy away and hide in a match because they fear what ridicule will be meted out if they mis-control the ball or shoot wide. I remember a few years ago visiting the Camp Nou, the fans applauded a miscontrolled ball that led to a throw in for the opposition on the 64th minute because it was the first mistake they’d made in the match, that is support.
If we turn up and abuse the team, hinder the players and berate the managers we are not supporters, we are not fans, we are disgruntled customers, we have succumbed to the idea that we are consumers rather than sport lovers. Boring.
I want passion, I want the hairs on the back of my neck to stand up. I have made the choice to spend my money and go to the match, so I want to feed my emotion onto the pitch so the players feel it and respond to it, and they do respond to it. They also respond to fear, but not positively. Yes, they are mostly mercenaries, but they always have been.
Do you think Andy Cole or Rob Lee, Les Ferdinand or Tino Asprilla had ANY idea what Newcastle was like before they came?
Do you think they cared? No. It was the enthusiasm of Kevin Keegan, off the back of the world famous support of the fans, it was the prospect of big money, but big money in front of adoring fans.
These days I can’t see any players wanting to come here. Andre Ayew is exactly the kind of player we would like to see, he’s quick, powerful, exciting, free…but if he reads the press, speaks to journos, speaks to agents or even speaks to fans, he will soon realise this club is a poisoned chalice right now, it’s dangerous, the fans are angry and the owner is a tyrant.
His bargepole will be safely in its case, not touching anything. It will be the same with any other half decent player, not to mention the ones we already have. The player would get good money, and that might tempt a few (but if it does, we really know they are mercenaries), but the passion of the fans has gone, so the old ‘I came to Newcastle because of the beautiful stadium and passionate fans’ rhetoric has gone. Mike Ashley is 99% to blame for this.
If we just accept that from within the ground we are not going to change anything with negativity, we might be able to change something positively.
Maybe then there would be less people inside SJP and Ashley might take note, but if whoever is in the ground really really supports the team, the players will take note, and they will respond. We can be the difference between relegation and staying up.
Outside the ground, outside, inside Sp**ts D***ct, anything is game, protest, abuse, campaign, whatever, it might make a difference, but what would really make the footballing world sit up and take notice, what would get the bods on Sunday Supplement nattering, would be if we, the supporters started backing the 11 lads on the pitch, however useless they are, however badly they’ve been set up and they played out of their skins and excelled themselves. That is the only way we are going to get anywhere.
Finally, if we start having a go at each other because we do or don’t attend matches, then Mike Ashley truly has won. Divide and conquer in full poetic motion, he would be so happy to know that we are turning on each other. We are much better together.
Those that go to the matches provide the positivity that spurs the team on, those that choose not to stand outside and protest, but afterwards and before we are all friends, joined in a common cause, help the team win, get Ashley out and restore our position as the best fans in the world.