Inside St James Park, Newcastle fans must remain positive, whatever the situation with Mike Ashley.
Opinions are a funny old thing. I once had a 15 minute chat with Mike Ashley and I am not ashamed to say that I bottled it. I didn’t tell him what I really thought of him, because it wasn’t the right time, and especially wasn’t the right place to do so. Instead, we spoke briefly about Newcastle United, the game we had just watched, but chose to talk about other non-football related things.
The funny thing about supporting Newcastle United, is that unlike other fanbases in the UK, of which I have good knowledge of a few (Celtic, West Ham, Norwich City, Sunderland), we all hold such diverse opinions on our football club.
However, one thing we all agree on is that Mike Ashley is a proven liar, and as soon as he leaves Newcastle United, the better. No longer is this just a common held opinion, I believe it to be a fact.
At work, at school, in the pubs, on the radio, on The Mag, twitter and Facebook, we all give our opinions. We can all say what we want, because in truth, it has no effect or impact on anything. Slagging off Aleksandar Mitrovic would be very different if I was to do it to his face, it might negatively affect his performance on the pitch.
One place where attitudes do have an effect is on the terraces, as those vibes cross over directly onto the pitch. For the moment, I think it is imperative that inside SJP, fans must continue to back the team and the manager. Regardless of opinions on tactics, or player performance.
That is, at all times this season, as it was against Tottenham on the opening day, the atmosphere in the stadium has to be positive. Given the circumstances, I do not think that room can be allowed for any negative vibes on match day, even if it is just for one game.
Remember what happened the last time? Newcastle 1-2 Hull City. A protest that at the time was completely justified, a very negative atmosphere, which I don’t think there is any doubt contributed to the defeat on the day. I was one of a number of people that day who thought ‘a defeat might actually be a good thing’, at the very least I don’t think I cared too much about the score that day at all. However, by the end of the 2008/2009 season, we were relegated by 1 point, behind Hull City. That should be a stark reminder to everyone about the impact just one negative atmosphere can have upon a whole season.
I must admit, at the moment, I don’t think Rafa Benitez will or can go anywhere. This is a guy who is football mad and wants to be on a training pitch every day. It is extremely unlikely that he is going to leave England again.
This means that unless he takes a national job which requires temporary time away from home, there is nowhere in England for him to go. For the moment, I think Rafa is stuck with Mike Ashley, and Newcastle United, as he knows it’s also the best job that he can get at the moment (although given West Ham’s poor start to the season that could all change).
Granted, it is hard not be worried about our chances of survival at the moment. However, I think it is almost a certainty that if Benitez was to leave then we would go down. This is not because I think that Rafa is the greatest manager of all time, far from it, but because this squad is so poor that I don’t know who could come in and galvanise them to perform better than they would under Benitez. What’s more is, with the likes of Manquillo, Lejeune, Merino and Joselu all coming in possibly due to a Spanish connection with Rafa, how much of the squad would respond to a new manager?
As fans, all we can do is everything possible to make sure that Benitez stays. He needs to feel the love.
Jamie Carragher recently said that it was “Rafa Benitez negativity that was affecting the squad”. I think we all know that this is pure rubbish. I actually expect better from the likes of Carragher, I can only think that he said it to provoke some sort of reaction for the purposes of live TV. Everyone knows, including the players I imagine, that problems at the club are not to do with Rafa. They also know that Rafa is about as professional as they come when it comes to football side of things.
That 2008/09 goes to show that every point in this league can be a big point. Even with the poor team that we have, what Benitez does guarantee you is a squad that trains professionally, a game plan (even though I often think he is too negative), the correct attitude and high fitness levels. Regardless of how this season goes, I don’t think we could do any better without Benitez as manager. The key for the moment is making sure that he feels the love, that he doesn’t walk away from Newcastle united.
For some strange reason the past few match days I found myself humming the song from Billy Elliott, ‘solidarity solidarity solidarity’, but instead changing solidarity to positivity. Bit weird I know, but you should try it, it’s quite catchy!
I think Mike Ashley is a big fat liar and it is likely that he always will be. However, St James Park, especially this season, is not the place to start that fight again. The reason being? For the moment, Mike Ashley isn’t going anywhere. The fans, like I think Rafa is doing at the moment, need to pick our fights with the owner. I can’t see how a fight now would lead to any sort of positive outcome.
We need Rafa, and he needs us at the moment, which is why the absolute bare minimum that any fans can do is to get behind the team to make up for that lack of quality on the pitch.
So long as we are all inside SJP and the 90 minutes are running on the clock, there can only be one message; Positivity Positivity Positivity.
You can follow the author on Twitter @JonathanComyn
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