Football is an emotional game and Newcastle United fans are right up there when it comes to violent mood swings.
Like all supporters, the fine line between happiness and despair is almost invisible.
This season, Newcastle fans have increasingly been bracketed in one of two extremes, either seeing everything that is happening under Rafa Benitez as perfect, or finding fault whatever has happened in the last match(es).
The first group points to how many points Newcastle have, the number of win, the amount of goals scored, the away form.
The second lot see more poor/average performances than good, results happening despite the team performances rather than because of them, few if any players who can beat a man, Newcastle often seeing little of the possession, winning games by taking the odd chance.
Yesterday against Fulham saw both sets of supporters arguing their points after the final whistle.
The answer, in my opinion, is something which lies between these two extremes, perspective.
Newcastle are neither brilliant nor useless, they have around about the number of points that they deserve at this stage of the season.
The truth is we are grinding this season out and a lot of it isn’t pretty,
Rafa Benitez has put together a squad of pre-existing and new players, that is short of real quality and instead is made up of good, sometimes very good, Championship performers.
Newcastle United didn’t lose against Fulham because they had a load of superstar players who simply didn’t turn up.
Instead it was our very decent Championship team/players had an off day.
Normally if seven or eight of our players are 7 out of 10 are better at this level, it is more than enough to beat most teams in the Championship.
Against a Fulham team that played very well we probably needed the whole team at that 7 out of 10 level to get at least a draw and probably at least a few at 8 out of 10 (or better) level to get the three points.
There are fine margins at play and whilst Rafa Benitez has to accept his part of the responsibility for any weaknesses in the squad, I have little doubt that over the course of this season he is squeezing a more than fair response from them.
His organisation and discipline are responsible for many of the points this season, turning any number of probable draws (or even defeats) away from home into victories – Burton, Brentford, Bristol City, Brighton, Barnsley….and that is just the Bs!!!
Newcastle United are what they are this season, a hard working team/squad who when things do go against them, especially when they fall behind, they have few answers. However, when they are on top of their game and limit mistakes and find a goal, sooner or later, they invariably win the game.
It is too late to change any of that at this point, the strengths and weaknesses of the team are there for all to see and we don’t need any statistics to tell us anything either way.
Rafa and the team will go on as they are and the supporters need to do the same, turning up and offering their support as the Manager tries to sort out the mess that has been created over years and years of stupidity and neglect.
It would have been nice to achieve this first (hopefully) step of promotion with sparkling quality around the pitch and entertainment high on the list BUT instead we have what we have, a means to an end.
Newcastle won’t survive in the Premier League without a real injection of flair and quality but that is a worry for another day – holding our nerve and discipline will deliver automatic promotion, nothing else.
(All contributions from Newcastle fans welcome, send articles (as well as ideas/suggestions) to [email protected])