Does Size matter ?

As sure as night follows day, after each match  rival fans will have a real pop at Newcastle United regarding our perceived standing in the game.

We all know the comments before we read them…

“They have never won sod all”

“They think they are something special”

“Might  have big crowds but they have a small club  mentality” etc etc

Although it gets annoying,  is there actually an element of truth in any of what is said?  Are they right to slag us off?

If I am honest, I have had this piece written for months but haven’t had the nerve to submit it.

That’s because I’m a coward and can imagine the backlash I may get. However, as you can’t punch me through the keyboard, here goes:

Are Newcastle United really  a “massive” football  club?

How do you answer that question. What do you gauge  massive to be?

After all, Huddersfield are one of only two teams in the history of English football  to have won the league three years on the trot, so are Huddersfield Town  massive?

You may have noticed Leicester are Premier League champions. So are Leicester massive?

I have considered six criteria to try and help me come to a conclusion.

Trophies?  

Well that’s an easy one to start with.  Shall we move on?

Performance? 

One top eight finish in the last ten years isn’t really anything to brag about. In comparison Everton have done it eight  times in the same period and as for Liverpool…

Do you know how many seasons  they have failed to finish outside the top eight in the past 50 years?  I will save you  the bother of looking it up.

The answer is never. Not once outside the top eight since England won the World Cup. Now that is consistency.

The truth is, we have had just three decent periods in living memory. Since Bobby Robson left, we have been a pretty mediocre middle ranking club.

Signing world class players?

The days of breaking the world transfer record on Shearer or donating millions of pounds to the Micky Owen pension fund  are long gone. But if a big club is now defined as one that shells out  40 million on a player and puts him on the bench, we are not in that company

Supportive and committed rich owners?  

Look at what Leicester’s owners have managed to achieve. Makes you want to weep.

Potential?

Every club has potential. With the right backing even the mackems could be successful. Ok, that’s pushing it a bit, but you know what I mean. This is  one that we tend to hang our hat on but massive clubs don’t talk about achieving, they do it.

Attendances?  

50k in the championship is frankly quite unbelievable.

However, others are going past us and in two years time, at best we will have the eighth biggest capacity in England.  If we use attendances to justify our position in the game, by definition West Ham are now  bigger than Newcastle

So I’m afraid that a realistic analysis of Newcastle is to bracket us as a second category club, on a par with other big clubs of the past who have the potential to do it again.  The likes of Villa, Everton and even Spurs. Those three have managed one league cup between them since Robbie Williams was singing about the Millennium.  Not exactly streets ahead of little old Newcastle are they?

So my second question is whether  this fixation about size really matters – because I don’t think it does.

My mates would expect me to say that, seeing that I’m  slightly smaller than a hobbit, but “We are bigger than you “ is  simply a tag that radio phone-ins or keyboard trolls love to use.

I know it can get under the skin, when Martin from Maidenhead, the Man City fan , comes on to ask when was the last time Newcastle won a trophy, but you just have to let it go.

While you are enjoying your life, he will have gone back to the spare room of his mum’s house, to stalk people on facebook.

But things can and do change. There is a chance, just a chance,  that this season may see the first seeds of change start to poke their heads above the surface.

Rafa joined  a long list of Managers of a ridiculously high standard  who have seen something in our club to take a chance on. Just to clarify that statement, they were of a ridiculous high standard on paper, if not always on the pitch:

World Cup winners:  Charlton  and Ardilas

European cup winners: Dalglish,  Keegan, Gullit and Souness

European cup winning manager : Benitez

Past England Managers:   Robson, McClaren (and Keegan!)

Future England Managers: Hippo Heed (dear God)

There always has been  something about this club  that has made all those people believe  it  could be a real force in the game. Twice in the last twenty or so years it has been tantalisingly close,  only for things to implode.

Maybe Rafa can succeed where so many before him have failed.

In amongst the slagging off we get from many opposition fans, there  are many who speak so positively about  their visit to Newcastle.  I believe that these comments sum up our club perfectly.

Newcastle is a massive football city but at this moment in time, Newcastle United are not a massive football club.

But it could be.

By God it could be.