In a new twist to an almost unbelievable season, Captain Coloccini has broken his silence with an open letter to fans.
What should we read into his message?
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For the cynic, we can jump to the 11th paragraph. This is ostensibly a plea to turn up and hand over our hard earned cash to fill the ground. However, there is much more to the letter than that.
For those of us who have had the pleasure of meeting him, Coloccini is a charismatic figure. Based on an encounter, speaking English to him elicited sparse responses. Things changed when speaking to him in Spanish, albeit a dialect removed from his native Argentinian tongue.
The situation was around the time of his contract renewal. Freed from the constraints of, the hidden passion of the man became apparent. Not for him the routine comments delivered in a flat and unconvincing style, but his eyes lit up and he expressed a genuine love of all things Newcastle.
The message that he has sent out becomes far more credible. This appears not to be a letter written by one of the PR people at the club, let alone Charnley. It appears to have been written in Spanish then translated, a style which frankly is beyond those of anyone at the club. The choice of language has a very South American flavour.
Coloccini is not the only person at the club to have fallen for the area. Several of the team can be seen out and about at different venues, from doing the shopping to enjoying the night life. They are not perhaps as immune as the man who sometimes flies in by helicopter, on match day, as the former MD who ran the club from London and from Charnley who does not seem to recognise the outside world.
The apology from the club captain on behalf of the players is welcome. Whilst the club seems to want to talk frankly, neither Ashley nor Charnley has been big enough to put their own names to an apology for what they have turned into an apology of a club.
With his own love of San Lorenzo, it is fair for Coloccini to remind us that this is, or should be, our club. On a personal level, a landmark in my life was the West Brom League Cup defeat under Sir Bobby, which was my son’s first and probably my father’s last at St James’ Park.
He is also right that the club does not deserve to be in this position, even if the owner and hierarchy do.
Having read Coloccini’s letter, it gives time to reflect on the players’ perspective. Coloccini came to play under Keegan. Some were here before, others have joined since. They came to an area known for its passion for football, to a club that had a proud European pedigree, a club that was known for ambition, including signing the best strikers in Britain.
Despite Llambias and Kinnear, despite Wise and Jimenez, the club came together under a decent manager and decent man, Chris Hughton. He broke records with the club and team. He involved players in decision making and trusted them. They responded in kind. Hughton was sacked.
Coloccini was reported, accurately or otherwise, to have fallen out with Pardew over team tactics. Likewise, Cabaye and Cisse. Players with character and experience were sold, the likes of Nolan, Barton and Carroll, others were released, Harper, Ameobi and more.
Team tactics became dull, the clearance from Krul to beyond the half way line for a forward 6 or 7 inches smaller than the defenders who marked them. Wingers were played on the wrong side denying width.
Even in the transfer market, despite the protestations of supporters and indeed, probably players, key positions were not reinforced with quality. There were not enough strikers in the squad, nor central defenders, nor even at left back. The squad in key areas did not allow for injuries, let alone rotation.
That is not a fault of the players, it is a complete failure by management.
One of the current heroes, for his effort and victory in his personal battle, is Jonas. How did the owner and hierarchy support him in his hour of need? He is another one, one in a long line since Bellamy, to have had a problem with Carver.
Looking forward to the summer, it is hardly surprising that players may not have been motivated. Contracts have not been renewed. The club has gained a reputation for providing Ashley a platform for capital growth whilst disregarding the ambitions of players and supporters.
The message back to Colo is thank you. Your apology is appreciated. As supporters, we value the good times that players have given us. Some, if not all of us, realise that in your short careers, the hierarchy has not only let you down but as you seem to appreciate, has let us down too.
For those who choose to subsidise Ashley’s wealth, it is important to get behind the team. It remains important to simultaneously give a strong message to Ashley, Charnley and anyone else with any power at the club. Their policies have led us to this and despite what you could do for the club, your apathy and negligence is despised.
Let’s hope that players leave us with a positive picture of the region, Those who apply themselves will be long remembered. As for Ashley, Charnley and Irving, the day you stop darkening our door will be one for celebration. Your regime is vile to the core.
Ashley, you may be a vehicle for dismantling human pride as demonstrated by Channel 4’s Dispatches. The players and supporters are far better than you.