Years ago I read The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell.

It describes how small changes in behaviour can have a far more wide-ranging effect. I’ve forgotten a lot of it, but one thing I remember is a chapter when he describes how good organisations can go bad. An organisation could be a company, a marriage, a school, anything. It could be a football club.

(To feature like Davey, send in your articles for our website to [email protected] – all views those of the author etc etc)

What the book says is that something can be running perfectly well for a number of years. If people start doing things badly, you don’t notice in a good organisation. Not for a while, anyway.

You may start cutting corners, hiring inferior staff, treating them badly, working to lower standards, and for a while, nothing bad happens. There are enough good people around who remember how to do things well to paper over the cracks. So you are encouraged to continue to do things badly. It appears to have no effect.

But eventually you reach a tipping point.

The bad behaviours are repeated by more and more people of decreasing talent until things start to go badly wrong. Very quickly in some cases, after years of looking untroubled, your organization goes into a rapid and prolonged decline. The people who remember how to do things well have left, or are too few in number to make a difference.

The real kicker is that when this happens, there is no easy fix. You need to start hiring good people, get them to do the right things, and keep repeating until you notice a difference. Then you need to keep doing it.

In the same way as bad behaviours can take years to hit your organisation, repeated good behaviours can take a long time to work.

My fear with NUFC is that we’ve hit the slide. Years of poor decisions, under-investment and bad hires are starting to hit us.

Until recently, we had enough people around who knew how to do things well to paper over the cracks. Even when we were relegated in 2009, what remained were good people with high standards, and we came straight back up. I liked that team and I liked the manager.

I don’t see that this time.

Even if we avoid relegation, I am not confident that we are good enough to repeat the trick next year. We have a poor board, poor coaches and a poor team, in which good players have forgotten how to play well. Even the support is starting to crack.

More so than in 2009, in my opinion; the fans have reached their tipping point.

If Mr Gladwell is correct – and I hope he is not – this won’t be fixed by getting in 2 centre halves and a couple of strikers in the summer.

Even if you believe we can attract the right people, and that the board would spend big enough to get them, it won’t provide a solution. It might help, but we’d need something similar next year, and the year after that and so on until it started working again.

The people I see around who remember what the club stands for (Jonas, the Taylors, Cisse…?) will be gone soon, and others who seem to be made of the right stuff (Perez, De Jong) seem shellshocked.

It could be that we need 5 years of repeated investment to get us to a point where we look up the table not down. In my view, we missed 2 golden opportunities to start this process: when we were promoted and the season after we finished 5th.

Mike Ashley is not stupid. He must see this. I can’t believe he is happy watching the club slide towards obscurity. He must have more pride than that.

He is the man at the top and he has the power to drive the changes we need.

If he doesn’t want to – no one can make him – then he ought to do the decent thing and hand the club over to someone who wants to fix it.

City Hall Gifts - shop.themag.co.uk


  • SGM

    Good piece it may be , but its aimed at the wrong audience.

  • MikeNE3

    Whilst sending the piece to Ashley’s advisors may be a good move, why is publishing the article on here aiming at the wrong audience?

  • Hez

    This has the same feel as our last relegation! Years of poor management by Shepherd and then Ashley, poor manager, coaches, players and investment choices lead to a ridiculous club going only one way. This time it’s 3/4 years of penny pinching incompetent management with the same result except that this time there is money in the till

  • Andgeo

    Last time around we had the hard work strength and determination of Barton, Nolan and Carroll. We also had the flair and class of Gutierrez, Enrique and coloccini. Those 6 players were far too good for the championship and promotion was inevitable with a top (likeable) coach who everyone wanted to play for.
    This time we have a raging lunatic at the helm and once the fat scum tat shop appalling billionaire has sold krul, sissoko, janmaat, tiote and cisse in the closing down sale in June, we will be left with what???
    darlow,
    No right back
    Lascelles
    Colocinni
    Haidara
    Colback
    Abeid
    De Jong
    Armstrong
    Perez
    Cabella
    That might actually be a decent championship team but there is no back up at all. Regardless of whether we go down or stay up we need a new manager and a dozen new players. Fat man is definitely selling up otherwise he would not have run the squad down to this. Appalling!!!!!!!

  • Andgeo

    Forgot obertan and gouffran but I don’t consider either to be a credible option.

  • Andgeo

    Couldn’t disagree more, although fat Fred may have took the mick, he’s like god compared to this fat pr1ck. At least he wouldn’t intentionally ruin the club for a decade. I’d take fat Fred ahead of fat tat scumbag any day.

  • Tony79

    We have reached a tipping point of anger for me.  We should stop at nothing now to get Ashley out.

    Don;t despair, organise!

    #AshleyOut

  • Brownale69

    Ashley cares for one thing only making money. NOTHING else. The prog about Sports Direct proved that.

  • Mike Ashley has got rid of everyone with integrity from the club.  Now he’s reached the stage where he suffers the consequences.
    Unfortunately, we the fans have to suffer as well, but I seriously think that the day of Ashley’s downfall is getting closer.

  • MsiDouglas

    NUFCTheMag robbalucky84 In my reading list for tonight chaps. Cheers

  • SGM

    As each day goes by it becomes ever more apparent just how well Pardew did with this group

  • toonmad1956

    The longer this sorry state of affairs goes on the more I’m thinking that the players are with us supporters in trying to get rid of Ashley. The majority of them aren’t putting in a shift. They all know what’s going on at the club and are playing accordingly.

  • SGM

    MikeNE3 Only Ashleys advisors will be able to act upon the relevance of this article.

  • Hez

    Don’t get me wrong Ashley is far worse but Shepherds mis managed the club for years, poor manager choices, shocking team investment in terms of ridiculous big money signings which financially crippled the club. Great during the Robson years but totally lost the plot afterwards.

  • DownUnderMag

    Great article, such a good summary of what is happening here.

  • MikeNE3

    SGM Yes, only Ashley’s advisors can act on it, but that doesn’t mean the Newcastle fans don’t have an interest in the article, or a need to read it!

  • MikeNE3

    SGM were you in a coma from January to May 2014?

  • Jarra MIck

    Nail on the head Davey but do you really believe Ashley would ever do the decent thing?

  • keith d

    last time we got relegated on the last day of the season it was villa in claret and blue mmm has fate returned for the last game again, west ham play in those colours, probably loose 1-0 and Kevin Nolan will get the goal

  • GToon

    You are right. There i a different feeling altogether this year. In 2009 i went to the last few games at home and the crowd were great. They gave everything, especially v Pompey. This time i can imagine the players entering the stadium to a sea of black and white, unless the empty seats are that colour.

  • GToon

    SGM Rubbish. He was just as bad but at different times in the season. This time the players are near the finishing line so are giving even less, thats all.

  • GToon

    Hez Did you ever give the finances a thought while we watched SBR’s team play? Thought not.

  • AshGT

    I’ve said it before, Mike Ashley has no emotional attachment to Newcastle, it’s purely business. Indeed, I think he actually became spiteful when the original abuse started post-Keegan. So we have a net-negative position as fans opposite the owner. When we get relegated, and it’s no longer an if with the current direction of momentum we have relative to our relegation rivals, he’ll either bale out or make a minimum spend to regain the brand exposure he craves for his principal love, SD. I suspect it will be the latter.

  • ilullissat

    Tony79 He simply doesn’t like the spotlight on him and his dealings.When Sh.te Direct floated on the stockmarket he was told to have someone in the company to liase with the Stock Exchange.He practically had to be forced to do it because he thought he was a  law unto himself because he didn’t want anybody prying into his business.Shine the light strongly enough and he will feel uneasy

  • kestrelbite

    Well, even in Ashley’s eyes seeing NUFC as a business, think of the people he now has or has previously installed in key positions in the club, a multi-million pound business. How many other clubs or businesses would have this sort of setup in key senior places making crucial decision:
    Chairman: Lee Charnley – journeyman with little career outside of NUFC now chairing multi million pound business.
    Previous DoF: JFK, Dennis ‘That Haircut Wasn’t’ Wise – no description necessary.
    Manager/Coach – Alan ‘Triffic’ Pardew – Just triffic manager, triffic unless you are a supporter of any of his previously managed clubs.
    Prof. John ‘I’ll F***in Have You Outside’ Carver – Chief strategy officer and motivation coach, former Illustrious managerial career managing FC Toronto and Fenham Junior School B Team.

    Even the next in line to the throne Shteve ‘Van Der Valk’ McClaren already has his own nickname – the wally with the brolly – we don’t even need to invent one. I’m sure most fans would have previously wept at the thought of him taking over but now he’s like the Second Coming compared to the status quo.

  • amacdee

    “Very quickly in some cases, after years of looking untroubled, your
    organization goes into a rapid and prolonged decline. The people who
    remember how to do things well have left, or are too few in number to
    make a difference”
    Aye we all know why there are no “leaders” in the squad because Fatman sold them all as he didnt want troublemakers in the dressing room. The decline is exaggerated by the number of unexplained injuries and the sendings off that players seem to inflict upon themselves rather than play in this shlte team. 
    Fatman may finally have realised he cant run NUFC like a branch of Shlte Direct. If he hasnt then the exodus of players at the end of this season might just get that through his thick fat skull

  • northender

    Sorry you guys but this has been brewing for a few years, Carver is just picking up the sh*** that has been festering for ages. You have had a succession of Chairmen/owners [Hall, Shepherd, Ashley] who take you for mugs who would buy s*** if it came wrapped in black and white. And you have, in buckets.There was certainly plenty on display yesterday and for the past 15 years you have been the club of choice for second-rate European mercenaries after an easy pay day.

    Also you need to question this thing about only wanting people to run your club who were born on the banks of the Tyne. You hounded Pardew out and wanted a ‘club man’ to take over. So Ashley gave you what you wanted and look at where its left you.

    You need to come into the real world and accept that a big stadium full of ‘passion’ does not make you a big club. Won nothing domestically since 1954 and your definition of a good season is beating Sunderland. Get real.- See more at: //www.themag.co.uk/2015/05/john-carver-one-or-two-of-the-players-are-not-having-me-for-whatever-reason/#sthash.hks3FX8T.dpuf

  • NottsToon

    northender Congrats on your superficial, media learned text and total lack of understanding of events. Do you also wander into lectures on Particle Physics and start shouting “well it’s not rocket science is it!”.

  • northender

    NottsToon northender Like which bit isn’t true?????

  • NottsToon

    northender NottsToon Mainly…..

    This….

    You hounded Pardew out and wanted a ‘club man’ to take over. So Ashley gave you what you wanted.

    This…

    your definition of a good season is beating Sunderland.

    This…(total assumption0

    accept that a big stadium full of ‘passion’ does not make you a big club. 

    This…

    mugs who would buy s*** if it came wrapped in black and white. 

    This…(applies to most of the Premier League)

    for the past 15 years you have been the club of choice for second-rate European mercenaries 

    But apart from that you made a fantastic post. Well done.

  • northender

    NottsToon Sorry, unforgivable error. It was 1955 not ’54. Not so bad after all.

  • christopher87taylor

    I hate this argument of Newcastle not being a big club waged by those who lack the nuance to appreciate the facts but seeing as your incapable of deploying themthem I can’t say you appreciate them or just choose to willfully ignore them.
    Surely Newcastle having played 8th most premier league matches qualifies them as a big team? 19th richest in world football? Large attendance?
    Personally I would still regard Leeds and Nottingham as big teams regardless, I suppose we will join them next year in the mortuary/funereal home of sleeping giants awaiting resurrection.

  • PeterRobson

    NottsToon Probably thinks the world is flat too !!!

  • northender

    christopher87taylor Hi Chris-I rather think you make my argument for me! The the road to the mortuary is paved with delusion!

    Consecutive Premier League matches mean diddly squat-look at Everton and Villa, for instance. Full of pretensions but no delivery. Sound familiar? 

    As for the ‘rich list’-if you got anywhere close to spending some of it I might take you seriously. Buy ’em cheap and pile ’em high, I think is your owner’s motto. 

    Attendances mean nothing if you are not delivering the investment or the delivery, it just means there are a heck of a lot of people lining their owner’s pockets. Like you have all done since John Hall’s day. 

    I’m not sure what facts I am lacking the nuance to understand but I don’t see them in your arguments.

  • ilullissat

    northender Most of our owners have been on a meal ticket.Time to end the gravy train

  • christopher87taylor

    northender christopher87taylor what makes a big club is the question? and you have reduced it down purely to the winning of silverware, very simplistic, clearly there is no convincing you of my modest outlook on Newcastle. 

    As for the ‘rich list’-if you got anywhere close to spending some of it I might take you seriously. Buy ’em cheap and pile ’em high, I think is your owner’s motto. 

    “I might take you seriously” – who made you the authority on such matters

    Clearly your being here commenting on Newcastle supposedly not being a big club undermines you, just like the recent Gary Neville comment on no one remembers the entertainers, by virtue of talking about it completely counteracts the point. Find it strange that an opposing fan I am presuming Preston would decide to come here to tell any teams fans how they should regard there team just to get satisfaction of knocking them down a peg.

  • Hez

    No idea what your point is there, very enlightening

  • northender

    ilullissat  northender Pretty much what I was saying, mate, but rather better put! I couldn’t agree more.

  • northender

    christopher87taylor northender I’m sure you do have modest ambitions Chris. I’m equally sure your owner will do everything to meet your expectation.

  • GToon

    Hez The point is that i didnt care what the finances of the club were back in those days. I was more interested with watching the football. Its only since FCB arrived that somehow us fans are expected to watch a [email protected] team but then remind ourselves of how lucky we are because the club isnt in debt.

  • ShearLegend9

    You might have a poor staff and all but what I still don’t get is HOW a petson can be so clueless on the side of the pitch…!!?! I mean, having one forward pick up the ball at the corner flag and the other staying put in midfield just defies belief……

  • northender

    PeterRobson NottsToon Read the next 20 posts. All your people are basically saying exactly what I am saying. Can I really be that far off the mark, Guys?

  • NottsToon

    northender PeterRobson NottsToon Sigh….do I really have to do this?

    You arrived here with some verbatim, ill researched tabloid rhetoric about Geordies hounding Pardew out and a clamour for a club man to be appointed, which is apparently what the owner gave us. When this was shown to be total shite you changed your stance to “what a mess Newcastle is”, you agreed with everything written here despite that not being what you turned up saying and now spout it as if you’re reinventing the wheel.

    Guess what? We know.

    Now take your painfully transparent trolling tactic elsewhere you tedious little man.

  • northender

    NottsToon northender PeterRobson So that is another way of saying  that I was right on all counts-yes?