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I told him that he is a lucky lad to be a Newcastle fan

5 years ago

It was difficult to judge how the Spurs game was going to be in terms of atmosphere. The match had the potential to be a tough one with Spurs only needing a point to finish second and finishing above rivals Arsenal.

What bearing a poor result or a performance akin to the Villa game might have on which way the crowd would go, would the owner bear the brunt of another protest?

What we got was nothing short of fantastic with the support for Rafa Benitez and the team relentless.

The logic defying result, for all it brought joy you couldn’t but feel frustrated too. For every smile there was a lump in my throat, for every punch in the air of delight there was a shake of the head in disbelief.

A performance full of grit, determination, passion, desire and fight (too much for some) came on a day when the result didn’t matter. It just sums our Club up really.

But if you did get a bit carried away with the proceedings on the pitch, the audible boos from parts of our support for certain players as they took throw-ins, corners, even scored goals…reminding you that things haven’t been great this season. I must add though, from my vantage point when the ball was in play the players were roared on regardless.

Unless the owner revels in fan unrest, controversy and bad press, then he’d be an absolute buffoon not to give Rafa Benitez everything he wants in terms of control and sufficient budget to build a team the way he would like to. A team that in my opinion would eventually be good enough to compete at the top end of the Premier League.

Rafa Benitez just seems to get it, what Newcastle United should be and he has the vision to see what NUFC could be – obviously it helps that he is a vastly experienced and talented manager.

Prior to taking over Newcastle the owner was quite a reclusive character, kept out of the press, only his fortune drew attention to him. Why a character like that would even consider owning a football club, never mind NUFC of all clubs, beggars belief.

The positive atmosphere amongst the fans since Rafa’s arrival along with the upturn in results on the field, has almost placed the issue of who owns the club into insignificance – as it should have been from the beginning. I’d compare a good owner to a good referee; a sign that they’re doing a good job is when you don’t notice they’re there. From that perspective surely he would be better off with a successful team on the pitch?

Let’s face it, we are never going to get along with the owner, but do we need to?

He’s not going anywhere anytime soon; the large loan the Club owes him is there to serve the purpose of buffer to any potential buyers. Similarly Rafa could act as a buffer between the owner and the fans. Let the fans do what they do best and support the team without the burden of the latest balance sheets etc. and get back to just talking about the football.

Obviously the problem is we know all too well what type of character the owner is and it won’t be forgotten. But if he gets this decision right he can fall back into the background where he will be bothered a lot less than he has been in the last nine years.

Hopefully, these pivotal couple of weeks of talks go well enough for Rafa Benitez to believe he’s on to something good. He has said his heart is already here and it’s all about it being right for both him and the Club.

From that, I would imagine Rafa’s thinking being along the lines of, get rid of Carr (Charnley too might be a push), let me bring the players/coaches/scouts I want in, and if you back me I will bring success to this Club.

Any deviance from that will result in Rafa walking away.

Just like we can’t change the past, we also can’t predict the future, and whilst nothing is guaranteed, with Rafa in charge we would give ourselves a fighting chance of creating something positive. The guy commands respect and it’s about time our Club did the same, for far too long we have been made out to be a laughing stock.

Rafa Benitez understands the importance of the relationship between a football club and its fans. I can’t envisage Rafa ever blaming the fans for being too ambitious, or being the cause of a bad result.

Instead, due to making us all feel part of the solution rather than the problem, he receives our full backing. The atmosphere at the Spurs game was brilliant; there was a level of defiance in the air that I’d never witnessed before.

This season, as poor as it has been, has strangely galvanised my resolve and I feel more determined in my support of NUFC and look forward instead of dwelling on what might have been and goings-on of recent years. Maybe that’s because of Rafa and/or maybe I’ve just learnt to focus on what got me going to games in the first place.

On the approach to the game against Spurs I was talking to my nephew who was feeling a bit down about the whole relegation thing. He remarked ‘look at all these people even though we’ve been relegated’, he’s 8 years old and it was like a realisation that his team wasn’t just a different colour shirt on the back of a player on his FIFA game and that it is much, much more than that.

I told him that he’s a lucky lad to be a Newcastle fan, that there’s not many places in the world has support for their football team like we do. That relegation doesn’t mean they pull the stadium down and the team no longer exists, things just keep going.

By the time he got up the stairs and into his seat he was bouncing again. He faced up to relegation and sang his heart out, I was so proud of him.

That’s what it’s all about for me, it’s our responsibility to maintain the life blood of this Club of ours regardless of who ‘owns’ the thing, it belongs to us!

Howay me bonny lads!!!



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