So, the dust has settled. We managed to avoid the trapdoor on a triumphant, relief-drenched St James Park afternoon back in May, Newcastle fans heading into the close season with just the faintest sense of – dare we utter it? – optimism.
Maybe it was all a bad dream, maybe we really could play, and just maybe…Ashley would make good on that fighting talk he spouted as we stared down the barrel on Survival Sunday.
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Fast forward a month or so, we have a new face in the dugout, but a familiarly depressing story unfolding from the boardroom. An eerie sense of deja vu, accompanied by an all too recognisable soundtrack of deafening silence.
We’ve certainly been burned during some of our recent transfer dealings (Chucky, anyone?), but once again it feels like while other clubs are moving and shaking, we’re faltering and hesitating. Couple this with the general underwhelming response to the McClaren appointment, and the rain clouds seem to be gathering faster than at a British Bank Holiday BBQ.
Plenty of opinion pieces have been put forward on McClaren by far wiser, more articulate scribes than myself. I’m not going to go into detail on what I think his track record and status mean for the next few instalments of the black and white soap opera (for the record – uninspiring, predictable and all a little bit vanilla); what’s interesting to me is the perverse sort of enjoyment that I think a lot of the fan base is getting out of it.
There is certainly value and wisdom in going for a decent level of managerial experience, but at the risk of sounding like one of those desperately naïve Geordie caricatures that Jim White and his cronies love to parade on Deadline Day, I would have been so much more fired up over a Vieira or a Laudrup.
Yes, they both come with a certain measure of risk, but at this point my feeling was that a change is as good as a rest, with McClaren smacking all too heavily of Pardew II.
Regardless – we are where we are, and our job now is to get behind the new gaffer and whoever he manages to bring in, however we feel about his suitability.
But herein lies the problem – so many amongst the ranks have written McClaren off before a ball has been kicked.
Is that really what we’re like? Loudly foretelling certain failure, decreeing malcontent at another lamentable transfer window and bemoaning our lot left, right and centre with a big fat ‘I told you so’?
I heartily wish we were already celebrating genuinely exciting signings, daydreaming about opening weekend and just exactly how we’re going to finally give the Mackems what we owe them.
No, it hasn’t happened yet, and no, we don’t have a transformative new head coach to jump up and down about, but wallowing in pre-ordained doom and gloom will surely only unfold as a miserable self-fulfilling prophecy when it’s time to kick the ball around the field.
People like to be right, and certainly Newcastle fans are still battling with enormous acrimony towards Ashley and his empire, but let’s not be the sort of fan base that revel in this horrible sort of native Schadenfreude towards our own.
The negativity can feel like we’re actually yearning for failure, just so we can say that we knew it would always be the case.
Despite how utterly crap recent years have been, it can’t be so bad that moaning and writing the team off has become a pre-requisite on the Toon devotee job description.
It feels really counter-productive, and more than a touch unfair on the new man who undoubtedly wants to lift the spirits of a wonderful club currently boiling in bitterness, just as much as we need them lifted.
Let’s not make his already mammoth task any more difficult, eh?