What makes Newcastle United unique?

Wins on Saturday for lower league sides Bradford City and Newcastle’s North-East neighbours Middlesbrough against the nation’s top two sides, as well as an impressive if not rather dour goalless draw for League Two Cambridge United against Manchester United on Friday, showed why the FA Cup is so treasured by fans from all levels of football throughout the country.

newcastle unitedThat is unless you are a Newcastle United fan, of course. The famous ‘magic’ of the FA Cup has long been absent from our exploits in the competition – with the exception perhaps of the wonderful goal scored by the since-ostracised Hatem Ben Arfa against Blackburn in the 3rd round in 2012.

The net result being many a weekend like this one, spent apathetically watching the football hoping to at least witness the cup sprinkle a little of the aforementioned ‘magic’ and conjure up one of its annual upsets.

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There was an unpromising lack of expectation back in the 3rdround as we travelled to Leicester City, a side currently scrapping for survival at the foot of the Premier League table. For me, the script was all but written as soon as the draw was made: we would go to the King Power Stadium, play a weakened side, never really have a go and, rather predictably, exit the competition at the first hurdle.

Broadcasters were so disinterested in the fixture that no live television coverage was available – even on international networks – meaning all that those of us who couldn’t make it down to Leicester for the game got to see was the ‘highlight reel’ offered by Match of the Day that evening. Blink and you would have missed it; this extensive selection of highlights was made up of the one solitary goal scored by our victorious opposition – who, if radio and text commentary on the game was anything to go by, could not claim to have been anything more than average on the day – and a perfectly good goal from Rémy Cabella which was disallowed for offside.

However, the distinct lack of response both to this contestable decision and to the goal we then went on to concede, was typical of our recent approach to the cup competitions.Even non-league Blyth Spartans looked more likely than us, their Premier League neighbours, to make it into this year’s fourth round, valiantly falling to Championship opposition in Birmingham City after holding a 2-0 lead at half time.

Despite common misconceptions around the country about the expectations carried by Newcastle fans, none of us expect to win a trophy any time in the near future. If we were to exit in the early stages after giving our all against a team who were ultimately better than us on the day, there would not be too many who would complain.

This year’s Capital One Cup run, which saw us put in a couple of superb performances and reach the Quarter Final of the competition,was refreshing to see, but the manner in which we exited the competition at Spurs – albeitwith some key players missing – was extremely disappointing, and we have now been knocked out of the FA Cup in the 3rd round for the 3rdyear running.

As much as it frustrates me to see Alan Pardew leading Crystal Palace to the 5th round with a 3-2 win away at Southampton after having displayed such a poor record for us in the FA Cup, he cannot be blamed – at least not solely – for our failure to take the competition seriously.

newcastle unitedJohn Carver was, after all, the man in the dugout for this year’s 3rd round defeat. The problem is unfortunately much deeper rooted. It is difficult to pinpoint where it is going wrong for us year after year (***Read this great article from Sunday suggesting exactly why Mike Ashley runs the club the way he does AND especially why the Cups are meaningless to him), but the desire and passion, to use a cliché that is regularly thrown around the terraces these days, is just not there anymore.

Gone are the days of seeing Rob Lee steaming in at Wembley to bullet home a perfect Shearer cross in the FA Cup semi-final, and on current evidence they will not be returning any time soon. There was always talk that Pardew received instructions from above that he was not to take the cup competitions seriously, so as to avoid jeopardising a solid mid-table Premier League finish, something that we all know to be far more lucrative – and therefore far more important – than a domestic cup run.

What defies this logic is that last season, having already exited the two cups in the 3rdand 4throunds respectively, we then sold our best player, failed to replace him and saw our season spiral into freefall.

This time, with no ‘Head Coach’ currently in place and rumours still circulating regarding potential bids for our prized assets, the club needs to make sure that its fight to secure this year’s respectable mid-table finish does not turn into another relegation scrap as the season trundles on.

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  • mr newcastle

    dont care anymore were they finish relegation will do fine as it does not matter to the club who dont want to win sky should not pay him anything for his antics sad man

  • No Brainer

    Eh Cabella was screaming at the ref, and we were in the qtr of the league cup even that was only foiled by our inability to have a third choice keeper who is an international or premier standard. who we would chastise in years to come as the bloke who should have left as he would have been a world beater elsewhere he just couldn’t edge the other two- never had a chance.

  • LeazesEnder

    What makes us unique then?

  • SimonM68

    The more I think about this (and I stew in it a lot) I think the FA Cup is a generational thing. Aside from the home internationals and a european final, it was the only game on live TV every year. So you watched it all – the suit fitting, the coach trip to the ground, the grim songs they brought out …. and you  (or at least I) grew up wanted to have a slice of that magic. Badly.
    It was from an era when football was all about trying to win every match you were in. It was the same in politics whereas now conviction politicians died out with Thatcher and Benn and footy clubs that just go all out 100% to win whatever match they are playing don’t exist. Except for Sheffield United maybe.
    Pardew was a puppet and Carver is another. Ashley orchestrates the exit each year and you can argue all you like that other teams rest players – look at Man City’s team v Boro and Chelsea’s team v Bradford – 9/11 first choice?  Ashley’s lack of investment means our second string is woeful, so add that to 7 make believe injuries and that’s a sure fire annual recipe for an early exit.
    Linking to previous article – I don’t ‘expect’ to win anything, but I surely ‘expect’ to try, because that’s the essence of sport surely??

  • Maximus Moose

    LeazesEnder The Fat Fooking Pig Owner. He`s unique to US !

  • vbhgft

    SimonM68 Simon I have to disagree with you on some of this. Firstly, as I have said in other posts, I believe it to be a weak conspiracy theory that Ashley sits in his office every January “orchestrating” NUFC’s exit from the FA Cup. That is just nonsense. He doesn’t care enough about NUFC to give it that much of his attention. We play weakened sides in the third round and so do most of the teams. Even teams going for promotion do it. Come fourth round, teams up the selections a bit, as we did at Brighton a few years ago. Chelsea and Man City have so many talented “reserves” that their teams rarely look weakened.

    The generational thing is true for the FA Cup. I grew up in the 60s and 70s and it was WAY more important than the league. The huge crowds in comparison the league games proved it. Now it is the opposite. Where I will disagree, though, is in your statement about teams wanting to win every game. Not so. The old first division contained 22 games, only two teams went down. Home games against teams like Coventry, Leicester and Southampton were invariably won as they couldn’t be bothered. They raised themselves for their home games and games against the big teams. As did NUFC. Away performances were often very poor. It didn’t matter. We wouldn’t go down (well not until 77-78!). So I don’t think teams went out to win EVERY game. Far from it.

  • SimonM68

    vbhgft SimonM68 Fair point to a degree in terms of attempting to win, but that was largely, in those days because it was 1 point for a draw and 2 for a win, so a draw – especially away, was a more credible result than today. And back passes helped to close the game out too.
    You and I will never fully agree in Ashley’s orchestration will we. He certainly doesn’t care about the club beyond it being a money-making entity – absolutely. I think the truth probably lies somewhere between actively wanting to get knocked out (to prevent injuries or excitement of any kind) and just not attempting very much at all to go through – it’s just where his fat ar*e sits on that axis. Either which way, the net result is depressingly the same annually isn’t it and (I think you agree?) against everyone’s interests except his.

  • wor monga

    The results from the weekends FA Cup round prove one thing
    only …that the genuine ‘big’ PL clubs have no real overriding interest in being
    in it…they haven’t since the main focus went onto their staying in the frame
    for CL qualification, and failing that finishing as high as possible in the PL.

    Whether or not the fans want the excitement or the thrill of
    going to Wembley in May doesn’t enter into it. Sad for what was once the
    greatest day in any English player…or football fans life, but to the club’s
    concerned it’s not worth the bother, so if their reserve sides can’t get them
    to the final then, that’s the way it is.
    We are not these days (and haven’t ever really been) a ‘big’
    club…despite what some of the bloggers on here seem to think…our first team
    find it hard to compete favourably (home and away) with most of the other clubs
    in the PL, and what’s worse our reserves find it almost impossible to compete
    well against any side from any of the lower divisions. So unfortunately for us…and
    the club, (as we know it under Ashley) PL survival can be the only real priority…whether
    we like it or not.

  • gazchampion

    It’s a shame, for both the players and more importantly the fans, that nowadays money has become the target prize for ‘the ‘club’ owners and not winning silverware. Bliddy shame on them!

  • vbhgft

    SimonM68 vbhgft Agree about the 2 points and back passes, thought of that but forgot to mention it.

    I honestly don’t think Ashley spends much time thinking about NUFC in the ways many presume (sitting there stroking his white cat planning more evil deeds), I just think he’s really not bothered beyond the balance sheets.