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Newcastle United – Better To Be Lucky Than Good?

10 years ago

The old saying of ‘better to be lucky than good’ relates to the belief that often it doesn’t matter how good you are at something, you don’t get anywhere without luck.

I think that after many years of nothing but bad luck, I am at last feeling that things have ran Newcastle’s way in recent times.

I actually almost felt sorry (but not quite) for ‘Arry Redknapp after what he and everybody else connected with Spurs went through on Saturday night.

Bayern were so much the better team and had so many chances to win the match; a goal up with minutes left, missed a penalty in open play, ahead in the penalty shoot-out…never mind the fact they controlled the match from first whistle to last as well.

As I sat watching that Champions League final I kept thinking how I would have felt if things had turned out differently on the last day of the Premier League season, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one either.

Thinking at each step of the match that surely Bayern were going to finish them off and Newcastle would have been back into the Champions League and all kinds of opportunities opening up for United’s short right through to long-term future.

I still can’t believe that it wasn’t us who suffered as Spurs did, I thought it was our natural role in life to see one door close, only to have another slammed in our collective faces.

For Newcastle not to have won a trophy in 43 years is unbelievable, to not pick up anything domestically in 57 years is criminal.

The times when Newcastle have come close to silverware in the last twenty years have see luck desert us totally.

The cruel finish to the 1995/96 last gasp Premier League loss will live longest for us all but how unlucky that when we got to the two cup finals in ’98 and ’99 that we had to go up the all conquering side each time; Arsenal title winners and then Manchester United title winners AND Champions League conquerors….where were Cardiff or Millwall when we needed them? Although no doubt we’d have found a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Then the following year, a very poor Villa waited in the final and Newcastle equalised in the semi against Chelsea having looked to be taking control of the match…only for Poyet to score a winner before most of us had even got back to our feet celebrating Bobby Lee’s goal.

As for Europe, in 2004 we ran into a relative unknown called Didier Drogba (wonder whatever happened to him…) who single-handedly knock us out in the UEFA Cup semi final.

The following year Kieron Dyer put us two goals up on aggregate in the second leg of our UEFA quarter final in Lisbon, we just about had both feet in the semi-finals of a competition where only average teams remained, however Newcastle somehow contrived to let in four as the team fatally collapsed.

I’m convinced that if we’d reached the final of any cup with Keegan or Sir Bobby’s best elevens we would have been nailed on to pick up a trophy but it wasn’t to be.

Now though just maybe the tide has turned a little, the fact we bodyswerved the misery of the Spurs fans an indicator that we will have luck shining on us as we go forward.

After a history of chaotic appointments, Mike Ashley came up with Chris Hughton, Alan Pardew and Graham Carr. Was it part of some great carefully thought out master plan or was it just luck, you decide.

Scousers with American accents presented a bag of gold with £35m inside it for a player with a handful of Premier League appearances and goals behind him, was it luck or just plain madness?

Newcastle United became a laughing stock over the years as they employed headline makers like  Joey Barton, Kieron Dyer, Andy Carroll, Titus Bramble, Craig Bellamy, Lee Bowyer….now they are some other club’s problem. Luck or design?

On the signings front United were also seen as a joke, players like Owen, Luque, Boumsong, Viduka, Geremi, Xisco, Duff, Smith, Barton, Marcelino and countless others who inevitably turned out to damaged goods that other clubs were happy to unload and Newcastle paid through the nose for in terms of transfer fees and/or wages, with very little return.

It gives you a headache trying to work out how you can then end up signing players such as Tiote, Cabaye, Ba, Ben Arfa (if he keeps it going!) and even Cisse (despite his near £10m transfer fee he clearly still looks a massive bargain) for a fraction of their true value.

Whether the transfer policy is via luck or design is again your guess but mine would be that it is a mixture of the two.

It is imperative now that Newcastle build on this ‘lucky’ start, the foundations need to be made a strong as possible and insurance in the shape of extra quality players brought in to protect against the one thing we can be sure will be back one day…and that is the return of our usual bad luck, so we’ll have to be extra ‘good’ to deal with it when it returns.



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