As Newcastle fans we have all, at one time or another over the past few years, been dismayed by our apparent lack of progress in the transfer market, our inability to keep hold of our best players, or even the lack of respect shown to the cup competitions.
Even the lack of empathy or open discourse with the very lifeblood of the club, the fans, is something that is appalling and been criticised by everyone in football.
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There has equally been plenty of times that we have seen discussions, bordering on heated arguments, over what the best course of action is. Staying away seems to be the common thread – hurt Ashley where he values most, the pocket. But in these times of crazy TV revenue, will a few thousand fans staying away really make as big an impact as we all think?
Like it or not, once you get to the Premiership, season ticket sales account for very little and while an empty stadium might bring some recognition on TV, it would also bring with it the scorn of other fans telling us we are half-hearted, criticising the fans rather than owner. Other fans would love to get one over on us.
However, I am certainly not going to say people shouldn’t turn up to matches, or give up their season tickets. Who knows if it will effect change, but as I sit halfway around the world from St James Park it is easy for me to pass judgement on what should or shouldn’t happen, when I don’t have that decision to make.
For some Newcastle fans, going to St James Park is a tradition that they don’t want to give up, for others it may be the only chance they have to catch up with old friends now they are married with kids.
I’m sure others think that the moment they stop going the club would finally win something…that casino mentality of ‘just one more bet’. It is not for anyone to tell people they shouldn’t go to games, if that is your choice and you feel that way then fine, I salute your conviction and back your decision.
I am also not alone in wondering about the outcome of the current season. No players in yet, plenty out the door (although the quality of those leaving and how much they will be missed is debateable).
It hasn’t got much lower for me as a Newcastle United fan than last season…even past relegations weren’t as painful as the drab way we limped over the line without a fight. Beyond the final game of the season, there wasn’t much to shout about but even less to get passionate about.
We all hoped that Ashley’s battle cry on the final day was a sign of change, but deep down I think we were all sceptical. This is a man who has abused his power at the club since taking over, all in the name of getting the most out of it financially for himself, while stringing the club up to the buzzards.
He’s tied us down with a debt that shouldn’t be there, he changed the stadium name to gain sponsorship money, he has sold off every available asset while shrinking the wage bill, all in the name of profit. And yet here he was promising a better future, a change of heart, a new direction.
But while we all scratch our heads in wonder, complain about the lack of direction, the lack of new blood, the despair of fans and the exodus from the stands, it all too easy to forget that we the fans may often expect too much and it is more important than ever for us to stick together and do the one thing that has united us for years.
As the banner said: “Support the Team, not the Regime!” There have been too many fans of late seemingly wanting the team to fail, that it seems so bad that the one thing that would make things better, is the one thing that most of us can’t stand thinking about.
Whoever steps on that pitch, whoever manages the team, it is OUR team, OUR club. Every fan has the right to criticise when things are going badly, but only if they themselves give their all in support.
Too often players are booed for one misplaced tackle, for a lucky last minute goal by the opposition. There are times when the performances aren’t good enough, but the fans also need to back them fully…don’t give them excuses of a hostile environment.
Too often we reading about people slating McClaren…he’s here, he’s our manager, support him – it’s as if some just want him to fail so they can complain about something else, to prove themselves right.
Whatever happens in the transfer market from here until the season kicks off, whatever you choose on the ticket front, just support the team that steps out against Southampton on that first day.
I was drawn to this club because of the passion of the fans, let’s not let that leave because of one man intent on destroying what we all cared about.
At least if the team goes down because of lack of investment it won’t be from lack of support from the fans and we can all still hold our heads high and point the finger firmly at the owner for the blame.
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