Even Mike Ashley Can’t Take Our Dreams Away
It seems an eternity away, standing inside a sun kissed Wembley bristling with anticipation as we were 180 minutes away from being the first club to lift the F A Cup in the new millennium. Truly a different era to the latest of Newcastle FA Cup exits.
The date was 9th April 2000, Chelsea the opposition in the semi final. The mood was upbeat; in fact surprisingly confident considering our previous capitulations at the now demolished home of English football on our last 2 visits. These visits were in fact ’98 and ’99, a time when we seemed to have a standing order for Wembley tickets every May, unfortunately our dugout was occupied by the original mad men.
But that Sunday in April felt different as kick off approached, Bobby Robson had restored the feel good factor.
The rest as they say is history. Getting beat 2-1 by Chelsea nowadays would probably be classed by our current manager as an encouraging scoreline. Back in 2000 after Rob Lee had levelled Poyet’s opener, the Uruguayan’s second broke our hearts and I’m certain Bobby’s too.
Like I said earlier, the intervening years seem like a lifetime, and in that time football and its infrastructure has evolved into an unrecognisable monster, values and targets are pre-determined by a club’s hierarchy and the FA Cup appears to have become a victim of English football’s changing landscape.
So as I took my seat for the Cardiff cup match I did so half expecting a slightly uncommitted display, but totally unprepared for what I was about to witness. From my seat in the Gallowgate the sparseness of the crowd appeared to mirror the club’s thoughts on the competition. After all, only a few months ago club officials derided its merits by declaring a top 10 finish is more desirable. So why waste 15 quid ?
The first half was abysmal and although Pardew struck his usual pose at the side of the pitch ( I would say technical area but our manager and technical just don’t fit somehow ), he was visibly less animated than in league games. The players’ lethargy was also strange. It affected every player, spreading from defence to attack like a virus, as if they had all read from the same script …… or maybe all played according to the same team talk.
Ben Arfa’s trickery occasionally troubled a woeful Cardiff but his body language betrays his unhappiness at playing for a manager with spineless ineptitude. So if the club has no ambition what does that say about our current crop of players ?
Surely, as a footballer success means more than how much you can negotiate into your bank account each week. Domestic cup runs won’t necessarily guarantee medals but must instill a belief that a day at the new Wembley could eventually be yours ; especially that clutch who are not going to win the Premiership like us and the likes of Everton etc.
Before I leave the subject of Saturday’s debacle I noticed that current whipping boy Steven Taylor bore the brunt of many people’s anger over Cardiff’s winner. Now my seat in the stadium does not allow me a great view of the Leazes end goal so when I watched Campbell’s winner on t v later I was amazed. Taylor was picking up their centre half at the back post, yet when he realised Mbiwa had totally lost his man he attempted in vain to rescue his central defensive partner.
Unfortunately, the fickle fan forums operating around the club nowadays are at times as big as an embarrassment as the club itself.
For what it’s worth, Yanga Mbiwa makes Taylor look like Beckenbauer, and although Taylor may well be Hollywoodesque at times, potentially replacing him with another third rate continental is worrying.
What the embarrassing Elliot was actually doing on the goal is another cause for concern, and the guilty face of Pardew told its own story post -match as he regurgitated the same old drivel about how the team changes should still have guaranteed a win. Yet how much longer can even the blindest of fans not see the lies and deceit, never mind the utter contempt this club holds us in .
I was at Old Trafford and revelled in the result and performance, yet that was the worst Manure team I can recall; Chelsea at home similarly brought great joy, yet their up and down away form put that into perspective as well. Luck has followed this regime as well as some undoubtably good performances, yet I believe Pardew’s team talk before Cardiff told the players in no uncertain terms that the FA Cup does not matter, why else would you keep a player on the pitch like Cisse when Remy sits on the bench ?
When I think back to that day in April 2000 I find it really sad . Bobby Robson would not understand or comprehend the club or the direction it’s heading today; and don’t even start with all your ‘financially stable’ and ‘affordable ticketing’ bollocks. Our leaders have effectively told us we dare not dream anymore, then our manager showed us. I support Newcastle United, just a pity those in charge don’t.
If you would like to feature on The Mag, submit your article to [email protected]