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Modern Bloody Football – Part 4

6 years ago

I’m writing this pre-Stoke!! So we’ve stuffed Norwich when we could easily have drawn or even lost (I texted my mates at half time to suggest we’d need to score 5 just to get a point) and battered the Mackems with nothing to show for it, other than some pride in the performance for once (my half time text in this one was “WTF just happened?”).

Norwich could quite easily be bottom 3 contenders and from what I witnessed at the SOS, so could they.  The problem is we are also in the same category, especially defensively, and despite some positive signs going forward, unless we start winning games then I can see the worst happening, unless Villa can also fulfil their inadequacies.  We’re already hoping and praying again that there will be 3 worse teams than us.


This may be a controversial view and to be honest I thought I’d be saving this topic for later but given the season so far, let’s just get it out there now!!

In 21 seasons in the Premier League, how many times do you think we have finished in the top half of the table, the benchmark minimum we apparently expect?  Well I’ll tell you if you aren’t too sure (according to my reliable reference sources at Wikipedia).  It’s TEN.

If you deduct the Keegan and Robson inspired seasons that figure becomes a ridiculous THREE.  That’s THREE seasons where first Roeder and then Pardew managed to get a Newcastle United team into the top half of the table (one of which was a Pardew scraped 10th) when we even managed to qualify for Europe too.  So should our benchmark really be just to languish around the bottom of the league as this is surely our norm?

Would getting ourselves relegated again really be such an issue?  It happened to us not that long ago you know and the club is still here.

What are we actually achieving in the Premier League at the minute other than to write most seasons off within a few weeks of the campaign commencing and falling into a deep depression for the rest of the season and planning how we are going to do it different in the future…only to do exactly the effing same time and again.

To be honest I’m getting a bit bored with being the media’s figure of fun year on year.  That’s the only reason we feature in so many live games, because they can have a laugh at our expense.  We seem so nice and accommodating about being patronised when I’d rather we all closed ranks and told the rest of the country to go…well you know what I mean.

Alright, so Sheff Wed and Leeds (as only 2 examples), who in my opinion are two massive clubs in terms of potential fan base, have been languishing in the lower tiers for a while now.

But I bet the fans who still go (continue pulling in crowds of 20k+),  are the hard core ones (especially away) who have that bond for life with the club and still gain some pleasure out of games if not enjoying the banter and camaraderie.  I enjoyed the Championship as you see the real fans, not the glory hunting tourists that the modern game has drawn into the top division.

Take the league cup match against Sheff Wed earlier this season to see how it gets (the away) fans interested, not to mention their subsequent home game against Arsenal the other night!!

It was the same when we played them away in the Championship, a huge following because of the clubs involved.  Make no mistake about it, if we go down the attendances will tail off (as they are anyway) and find a natural level of fans who still care about the match.

That’s not what the modern game is about though is it?

It seems to be about some wishful thinking that you can challenge some bankrolled clubs and get into Europe and if we can’t we’ll spit the dummy out and refuse to go until someone better sorts us out.

That’s not me saying I love Mike Ashley, far from it.  He could and should be doing so much more for the club and failure to speculate to accumulate when the going was good has resulted in a questionable squad of players that is going to take some time (if ever) to correct.

The evidence in our history suggests that some of our European campaigns were started on fortunate grounds of losing finals to teams that had already qualified for a better tournament.  The time we actually won a European pot being a prime example of gaining entry to a competition by default.  Not that I’m complaining on that score.

Or maybe I’m totally wrong and the modern game is all about finishing anywhere except in the bottom three?  Not very inspirational or exciting in my book.  It’s almost as if failure is to be celebrated.

The modern way seems to be to go out not to lose (so 38 draws would be ok) rather than try to win.  What is the point in that?  Fat Sam is a good example of exactly that scenario, don’t concede and if we can nick a goal (via a dodgy penalty with a sending off just before half time too) then great but as long as we don’t lose.

It’s hardly a long term plan though and fortunately at St James that was quickly sussed for the dour negative farce it is.

It seems to me that the Championship and leagues below are more competitive.  Obviously some teams will rise to the top each season since someone has to get promoted, but there seems to be more chance of any team beating another and the teams rising to the top are not always the same ones.  I’m sure the fans of the other 72 league teams don’t give up just because they aren’t “Premier League”.

I’m getting a bit tired of the modern day mantra every season of, “well if you get relegated this time you’ll miss out on the new TV deal money”.   Given we never bloody spend it then my answer to that would be a resounding, “So What!”

It is ultimately Mike Ashley who loses out, which in many respects beggars belief that he puts our status in the top flight in jeopardy on an annual game of Russian Roulette.

Is it going to be the case that the 17 teams that survive this time are going to be forever Premier League just because they have squillions of quids to fool around with while the rest just Yo-Yo into the remaining 3 spots on an annual basis without any possibility of ousting one of the existing lot?

If money equated success then I think we’d of been a bit further up the table in previous seasons.

I suppose it all boils down to how you spend it and as we have seen it can quite easily be wasted on a lightweight and/or injury prone Frenchman and/or Dutchman.  We’ve equally wasted smaller amounts of money on British talent who don’t cut it either mind.

Maybe instead of gambling on several cheap players who never get a first team chance, a couple of more expensive and reliable established ones would be better value?  I’m sure you’ll have your own examples of who I’m referring to.

Before the advent of the Premier League and SKY, it was Liverpool who were the dominant force.  They seemed to attract the best players because they generally had the best chance of winning something.  But financially they also had the biggest crowds bringing in revenue that was able to be invested in the team, imagine that eh!!

It’s no wonder the Scousers are so annoyed that other teams, except possibly Man United and Arsenal, have overtaken them from having obscenely rich benefactors rather than self-generated finance.

Not so long ago I heard a Man City fan (obviously a real one) on a talk-in, being asked if they should be achieving more in Europe given their spending power.  He seemed a little embarrassed at the question posed, but did reluctantly agree that given the modern way Citeh have evolved (been bankrolled) they should be punching higher with the outlay they have made (it was just after signing Kevin De Bruyne).

However, to be fair to the bloke he finished the call by clarifying how he’d watched so much shit for the last 40 years he wasn’t going to start complaining too much now with the turnaround in their fortunes.  I wish it was us too mate.  My former match day comrade said something similar when Chelsea first bought the league, “aye, wish it was our club” was the general consensus.

Do we want to be a Yo-Yo club?  Well it could provide a season of excitement every couple of years rather than several years of absolute garbage and misery with a very rare season of over achievement.  It’s supposed to be an entertainment business after all, not that we see much of that around these parts.  But that seems to be the modern way.  While this scenario seems largely pointless if you want to build a club to be a challenger for the upper echelons of the league, the current attitude of our owner and his cronies is the polar opposite.

All of this is nothing new.  When I was a teenager back in the mid 80s I taped (on a video recording device thingy, VHS not Betamax you understand, we were posh) a documentary about Newcastle’s predicament at the time of selling a certain Peter Beardsley called “Black and White and Red All Over”


If you’ve got a spare half an hour I suggest you watch it and tell me if the modern era under Mike Ashley is anything different from that of almost 30 years ago?  Maybe Mike Ashley should watch it too.  Check out 15 minutes in when the guy from Dexy’s Midnight Runners suggests what we already know,

“If they signed the entire first team squad of Lichtenstein and got them playing for Newcastle, the people would still come out and watch them”.

Finally, and just to make a bit of a point, take the following list of 20 managers (picked on the basis of winning at least 2 domestic titles or European cups).

Alex Ferguson, Bill Shankly, Brian Clough, Jose Mourinho, Arsene Wenger, Kenny Dalglish, George Graham, Howard Kendall, Bob Paisley, Matt Busby, Don Revie, Pep Guardiola, Carlo Ancelotti, Vincente del Bosque, Ottmar Hitzfeld, Arrigo Sacchi, Jupp Heynckes, Louis van Gaal, Johan Cruyff, Rafael Benitez.

Now imagine they are the current managers of any 20 Premier League teams, it doesn’t matter which ones.

Can you argue that the 3 that finish bottom are terrible managers?

Could you even suggest which 3 it would likely be?

Or is it just a fact that at least 3 of them are going to be at the bottom, it’s inevitable!!  I’m sure SKY, the BBC and the tabloids, as they tend to do in the modern era, would be questioning/speculating after a few games as to which one should be sacked first.

Just to clarify, if you’ve managed to get this far.  I’m not suggesting that I want us to be relegated, merely pointing out that if all we aspire to do is survive then I’d rather be watching more competitive ‘entertaining’ games in the Championship than the recent guff we’ve been served up.

We might even get to see the next Alan Shearer break into the team as opposed to the latest Julio Geordio turning up to go through the motions.  Our theme tune is “Local Hero” after all, remember them?

Modern Bloody Football.  Meet the new game, same as the old game (except not quite as good in the Premier League)!!

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