Newcastle United – Can You Give Me Something To Believe In?
Amidst the eagerness and anticipation to start another Premier League campaign, I can’t help but find myself feeling a little deflated.
Yes, there has been investment. Yes, quality players such as De Jong and Cabella have arrived. Yes, we’re in a better place than we were at the end of last season…but, we’ve been here before haven’t we?
I first started writing about Newcastle United during the season we finished fifth. As a young writer and avid fan I naturally had a lot of raw enthusiasm for my subject matter. Newcastle’s on the pitch successes certainly distracted me, as well as many of us, from our off the field woes.
However, the more I’ve written about the club, the more I’ve studied what goes on and the more I’ve thought about the club and put into perspective just what Newcastle United are under Mike Ashley, I’ve sadly lost a lot of enthusiasm for something I hold so dear to my heart.
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To put it clearly, we as fans must not let ourselves be duped by a handful of pre-season glamorous signings. We know the script. Buy ‘em young and valuable, sell them on for a profitable fee. The basic maxim of magnificent Mike ladies and gentlemen. Signings raise excitement, no matter what age you are or how long you’ve supported the toon, it’s only natural that a buzz is generated when a new player comes to St. James’.
However, we’ve got to look at the big picture. We don’t really create teams anymore. We have no identity on the pitch. Gone are the days where you fell in love with our players. They’re either not around long enough to do so, they’re ruined through mismanagement, or they’re mercenaries who put themselves before the club! I certainly don’t see a nucleus in the side, a core that sticks together seasonally.
Many people often raise the point that we simply do not have a good core of English players. Namely, a core group such as when we were promoted; Nolan, Carroll, Barton, even Harper. There were people in the dressing room that would pull the team together when under fire and be able to survive in the trenches. After that we seemed to have the side which I look back on as ‘Cabaye’s team’. Cabaye was pretty much the first of many signings, triggering Newcastle’s so called ‘French Revolution’.
Demba Ba was an integral figure in this side and promptly left the club. Figures such as Jonas and Ben Arfa will most probably never wear the shirt again and other key figures such as Papiss Cisse and Fabricio Coloccini are no longer the players they once were. Perhaps that’s harsh on Colo but he is getting on and his commitment has waned. Anyway, what I’m saying is we now have another new team.
A lot of the guys we see turn out in black and white this season will be players we have never seen before. We have no relationship with them. Of course it won’t take long to choose new favourites but it’s questionable how much time we should invest. I’m sure De Jong will do well, Janmaat seems quality and we have built the squad with the arrival of new bodies. Nevertheless, I feel cheated by Newcastle United.
It was once a proud club. Money is inescapable in football, don’t get me wrong, but the miserly and rapacious way in which the club is led under Ashley is damaging to such a loyal and caring fanbase. Look at the fate of someone like Jonas. Yes, he wasn’t good enough for the first team but the way he was pushed out was disgraceful. Such a loyal servant who stayed with us when we went down, always giving his all, is told he’ll never play for us again and that’s that! His fate reminds me of the character Boxer from Animal Farm. A character who gave his all for the cause yet was promptly thrown away by the management when it seemed he had nothing left to give.
The club only cares about surviving in the Premier League. The club has, on record, stated that it has no interest in domestic cups! What?! In doing so the club have left themselves without a leg to stand on! We are signing players to survive. We are not signing them to prosper. You must remember these players are replacements! Pardew tells us we have spent all our money, he argues that nobody can say otherwise! Alan, we haven’t spent the Carroll money m’boy!
This doesn’t mean to say I want us to throw money around stupidly. I really don’t. Or that I want Pardew banished from the toon, it’s irrelevant, getting rid of him would be like moving deckchairs on the Titanic. It’s not about the money. It’s about ambition. There it is, that word. That word which has come to the attention of all Newcastle fans over the past year or so. Do we have any? There lies the debate.
For me, and you dear reader, are entitled to your opinion and of that I will respect, football is about competing. It’s about striving towards success, being the best you can be. That’s its very nature and where the passion comes from. We are passionate fans. We want to see the great phoenix that is Newcastle United, rise from the ashes and spread her wings. We don’t want to be told we won’t be competing for cups and yet be told that we remain very much ambitious! It’s not only tragic it’s insulting. And I’m ashamed to admit it but I can’t forgive, trust or believe in this club anymore.
It’s hard for me to buy into the pre-season excitement when I feel the fun has been sapped away from my club and I have no trust in it at all anymore. If Cabella flourishes and becomes my new Ginola (or even Ben Arfa) then it’s only a matter of time until he leaves. Or if we finally do sign Loic Remy, the man who turned us down originally, then joined our club, then repeatedly turned down offers to join permanently; that’s a personality I don’t want associated with NUFC.
Personalities I have loved have left and teams have been destroyed, leaving potential unrealised. Why should I get my hopes up when we aren’t really building towards anything? Of course I’ll support us. I’m a fan, that’s what I do and I love my club. But Newcastle United and that feeling of belonging to the club just isn’t there for me anymore. I think a lot of you may feel the same. A lot may think I’m being dramatic and I’m off my rocker! Fair enough, to each their own.
However, I feel if you truly know what Newcastle United is really about you’ll understand that what is going on is nothing short of a disgrace. The management of the club have eroded the ties that this one club city has with its football club. We’ve got Wonga on the front of our shirts for God’s sake! Our press can’t even talk to the club! It’s a totalitarian rule and any protest falls upon deaf ears. Our identity and culture have been bypassed.
Yes, I’d love to see us have a great run up until Christmas. I’d like nothing more than to see De Jong flourish, see Cabella become the player that all pundits rave about and see our new, yet to be signed 20 goal a season man lead the goalscoring charts. I really would. But that’s a dangerous thing. It will get me to hope again, to believe what Pardew tells us. To really think we are a club on the up. But I’ve seen it happen before and whatever positive great displays I see on the field, merely paper over the cracks of what is really going on at the club.
Don’t let the small pictures, week by week, cloud the big picture of what Newcastle United has become. Every day I see fans on social media and in forums talk about NUFC. What surprises me is how short many people’s memories seem to be. Perhaps ignorance is bliss. Perhaps it would be better to proudly march to the ground in my brand spanking new Wonga shirt, being full of optimism about new stars and faces and just enjoy supporting the club. I’d love to have that feeling I once had.
So there it is Newcastle, can you give me something to believe in again? I truly hope so.
You can follow the author on Twitter @jamiehardesty
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