As the Newcastle United players rebuild their shattered confidence in La Manga, they aren’t the only ones who have taken advantage of having a fortnight off.
Following Newcastle United is, quite frankly, exhausting.
To reflect on a state of affairs that grows more desperate with every passing week is a morale-sapping, disheartening endeavour.
It’s understandable that journalists, both regional and national, would pore over the critical failures – it is their job, after all – but the rest of us insist on carrying out a perpetual post-mortem on a club that was dead upon a certain sports magnate’s arrival.
So when the remnants of United’s injury-stricken squad jetted off to Murcia in a bid to salvage their season in warmer climes, I took a holiday of my own.
Not an actual holiday, I hasten to add; the bank balance and time off work had already been dwindled by an earlier trip to Berlin, and a metro journey to sunny North Shields is hardly considered an excursion.
Instead, it was a break from following the fortunes of Newcastle United. I kept away from the Twitter feeds, avoided the back pages of the local rags, and, for a few days at least, even refrained from visiting The Mag.
As a result, my last week was spent in relatively blissful ignorance, without the usual doom-mongering or PR spin.
I took in my usual games at the Daren Persson Stadium (home of North Shields FC) – a loss in midweek, a disappointing draw on the Saturday – before tuning in to some FA Cup action at home. Sunday was spent in the company of team-mates, whom I promptly let down with my best Steven Taylor impression in a disastrous opening to our five-a-side league campaign. A successful weekend it was not, but it was enjoyable all the same.
Events in La Manga were, to me, completely inconsequential.
My vacation from Newcastle United was cut short by a Wednesday deadline. Dipping back into it all, I came across NUFC players insisting upon the importance of a narrow friendly win against a mid-table Norwegian outfit; a litany of talking heads dissecting exactly where it has gone wrong; yearning articles on the ones that got away, and, of course, yet more procedural, by-the-numbers criticism of the main perpetrators.
It got me thinking a little harder than usual. What is there to write that has not already been written, that United fans don’t already know? I’m still not sure: thankfully I have another month or so to work that out.
In the meantime, taking a week away from the club and the misery culture has been a refreshing experience. The sheer weight of pessimistic expectation has, as Mick Quinn suggested the other day, rendered me and others like me indifferent to the United cause. Those few days in self-imposed exile have helped to lift some of that weight.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of cause for apprehension, not least because half of Newcastle’s dozen absentees are defenders. Nevertheless, I’m a little more hopeful – what’s the point of supporting the side otherwise? So I will be looking towards the Stoke City game with slightly less jaded eyes than before…
Here’s hoping that the trip to La Manga has had a similar effect on the players.
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