It’s difficult to motivate myself to write anything about Newcastle United these days, for an eternal optimist like myself I am being starved of silver linings, even the light at the end of the tunnel is smaller than a pin prick.
Speaking of pricks, we seem to be gathering an ever increasing collection of them at Newcastle United, from top to bottom, including the fans. So how does somebody like me even begin to add a positive spin to the negative whirlwind on the Tyne?
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Well, my only hope seems to be emanating from the South coast. Bournemouth have made it back into the Premier League, and well done to them. They have been to the bottom, the very bottom (of league football), even a bit below that, having been docked 17 points. From that seemingly desperate and doomed position they have managed to claw themselves to much loftier heights than they could possibly have imagined.
With relegation seeming an ever more likely scenario, almost perfectly mirroring ‘the last time’: a disgruntled and angry goalkeeper; a pi** weak defence; stars giving up the fight and looking forward to moving on; a Geordie manager desperately out of his depth and the same old rotund owner, the juju is bad.
The recent bust up between Krul and Colo following the kind of capitulation we have come to expect from our team, is just one in a long line of events that spells disaster. So, if the worst happens and we go down, can the current bunch stick together and get us back up? No, I don’t think so, there’s no Barton, Nolan or Andy Carroll figure to grab us by the scruff, the big names will be off in the summer whether we go down or not. Carver would (probably) be installed full time and we wouldn’t come back up, we might even go down again. Not too pretty a thought.
There are a few ways of looking at this; one is that relegation would be a good thing. It might encourage Ashley to sell up, we can rebuild with a new owner and quickly regain Premier League status with pride restored and something to look forward to.
Or it could be a bad thing, either Ashley doesn’t sell up and we languish there in mid-table, nothing changes, or we get promoted quickly and we are back to square one.
Then again, Ashley might sell up to someone like the Venky’s or Freddy Shepherd, that lovable character who almost drove the club out of existence. That could potentially be worse than what we have now (potentially). The future is bleak, the future is red and blue.
If we stay up, that could also be good or bad. It’s a long shot, but maybe this scare will gee Ashley into action, we might not get a squad capable of challenging for Europe, but significant restructuring could yield a little more optimism and perhaps some new players who really want to play well for the club (in order to move on to a ‘bigger’ club).
This isn’t necessarily good, but with Ashley remaining in charge it is probably the best we can hope for. Of course, the more likely scenario is that we get some new players, but nowhere near enough or of the required quality, our new coach is uninspiring at best and we endure another season of sub-standard football and a libraryesque atmosphere at SJP.
For an optimist I’m being mighty pessimistic.
The frustrating thing is, that I don’t know the answer, I don’t know the solution to our predicament. I don’t have billionaire friends, I’m not privy to conversations at board level, I don’t have access to Mike Ashley’s ‘brain’, I cannot imagine any scenario in which I, as an individual, can influence Mike Ashley to make any decision other than the one he has firmly set his mind on. I don’t think I’m alone.
Every fan has their opinion, many have taken action to attempt to coerce MA into rethinking, many have sat on their hands and done nothing, many have moaned at games, some have tried to encourage the team during matches, a very small number have even praised Ashley for the way he is going about things.
My point is, that much like a***holes, we all have opinions, but whatever our opinion it has about as much chance of influencing Mike Ashley as our aforementioned anal orifice. That is just my opinion. However, we do have a very good chance of influencing the players.
We can complain about the ownership, executives, manager and players not doing their jobs, but we have to look at ourselves and ask if we are doing our jobs? I said in a previous article that as supporters we should be offering support to our team, and then chastise the suits after (and before) the match. I firmly believe that, and Colo’s letter, whether he wrote it or not, is a plea from the players to help them.
Look at the effect a bit of support did for Leicester. Their players were pumped up by the crowd, they felt they owed them something, they felt enthused and motivated by the loud support of their fans and they scored within a minute.
Think of St James’ Park, our players run out to some half-baked clapping, then silence as we sit and expect the worst, just waiting for them to make a mistake so we can get on their backs.
When that article came out saying they were terrified I thought it was a bit over the top, we aren’t violent towards them, but they do fear making a mistake.
I like to sing karaoke; when I’m with my friends and we are having a good time I’m like Frank Sinatra on acid, I’m on fire, man, I could be professional, but if there’s just one person in the room with a face like thunder, one person who thinks they are awesome and considers my version of Smells Like Teen Spirit to be insipid and lacklustre, the Simon Cowell character who mutters ‘off key’ under their breath then my confidence is shot. I croak, I corpse, I become Justin Bieber (talentless) and revert to my 15 year old voice-breaking self, I am Jedward.
I know karaoke isn’t my job and I am not being paid £££ to do it, and I’m not suggesting the players get drunk before a match, but the principle is the same. Whether you are being paid or not, constant criticism and booing gets to you, it’s a downward spiral and the more you hear the more you are affected until you just feel like giving up. That is what has happened at Newcastle United.
We all know John Carver is struggling, we know he isn’t cut out to be the head coach, so we must take it upon ourselves to motivate the players. This is no longer about ‘support the team, not the regime’ or ‘get out of our club’, this is about survival, plain and simple.
Right now, our only real option (as I see it) is to fight tooth and nail to drag our players out of their near depressive state, give the hairs on the back of their necks a little action and raise the roof of our beloved stadium. F**k Ashley, F**k Charnley, WE are Newcastle United, WE decide whether we support our team, and WE can decide which league we play in.
Also, we are the laughing stock of the footballing world, or even worse, we have their sympathy. F**k the footballing world! We don’t need their sympathy, we are Geordies, we don’t cry and p*** and moan, we get along to OUR stadium and shout our hearts out for the lads, whoever they are, whichever formation they are in, whoever is the manager, whatever mistakes they make, F**K mistakes!
We give them praise when they do well and we encourage them to play better when they dip.
We have one of the most exciting young players in the league in Ayoze Perez, we have a couple of young Geordies who would run through walls for us, we have 2 Argentine internationals who have stuck with us through thick and thin, we have a current French international and the Dutch national goalkeeper who has grown up here and is as Geordie as anyone now, let’s give them a reason to succeed.
Let’s show them why they signed for the club and make it impossible for them to want to leave. Howay, we don’t demand a team that wins, we demand a team that tries to win, I demand fans that try their best to make that happen.
Or we could boo and watch them crumble into in-fighting and destroyed confidence, watch them give up the ghost and consign us to relegation. It’s up to you. Bournemouth have done so well to get back to where we are, wouldn’t it be lovely if we can do the same, or we could just stay here.