The Oxford English Dictionary describes the term ‘context’ as; “the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood.”
I’d describe it as something that a hell of a lot of Newcastle fans could do with right now.
Friday night ended in gut-wrenching fashion. There’s no doubting that we have every right to be disappointed having to settle for a point in a game in which we were the far, far better side.
But the reaction from a number of football supporters (some Newcastle fans) I saw across social media was laughable. The pick of the bunch being a fan going as far as to say the team was an embarrassment, that this team not winning the league is; “one of the biggest failures in football.”
Plenty Brighton, Leeds and (obviously) Sunderland fans were quick to jump on the scene after the 1-1 draw with remarks along the lines of ‘£50m for 2nd’ and so on.
Hang on, have I missed something?
At the beginning of the season fans across the country were all too keen to point out to us how tough this league was. Our manager and our players didn’t know this league, that we would be in for a shock when it kicks off.
Well, we’ve dealt with all of that. They were right, this league has been tough, and we’ve done bloody well to be (barring any major calamity) coming through it with at least a ‘P’ dotted next to our name when the final table is pieced together.
So what do we get from opposition fans?
A pat on the back for coming through this tough division and winning promotion at the first time of asking? A nod of approval for getting on with the job and winning the required points despite the majority of other clubs’ supporters wanting to see us fail?
No, no. They couldn’t dare praise Newcastle United. Instead, we’re reminded of the Champions League winning manager we’ve got who (probably) couldn’t finish above Brighton. I’d say 2nd is alright given he doesn’t know this league, right?
We’re reminded of the money we’ve spent on the current squad and the “laughable” fact that we aren’t walking the league. I can only apologise to these fans that Tottenham Hotspur paid us £30m for Moussa Sissoko, that Liverpool paid us £25m for Gini Wijnaldum, and that Marseille are paying us £10m to take back Florian Thauvin.
I can only apologise to these fans that we had the audacity to reinvest the money to prepare the squad for the “shock” we were going to get after our first taste of Championship football, right?
True, it now looks unlikely that we’re going to end the season as champions, but is that really so important?
Out of the 18 sides to find themselves relegated to the Championship since 2010, only two have gained automatic promotion back to the Premier League in the following year. Two.
Look elsewhere in this league. Aston Villa and Norwich came down with us last season and would’ve expected to be challenging for promotion alongside us, but instead they’re languishing in mid-table. Villa in particular have spent more than us this season, and they’re 12th!
For Newcastle fans themselves out there who are feeling disappointed with our current situation. Take a look at those two other clubs and think how much worse it could be.
If you felt down after leaving St James Park on Friday night, think back to how you felt leaving the stadium after the 2-1 loss at home to Huddersfield in August.
I don’t know about you but I felt a hell of a lot worse then. I bet you’d have snapped the hands off anyone who’d offered you 2nd place, right?
If you want to look further afield, take a look at those in red-and-white not too far down the road. This time around it looks like their luck has run out and they’ll finally be dropping into England’s second tier.
Not only that but they’re doing so with a terrible squad, few sellable assets, a mountain of debt, and a broken man of a manager who the fans want rid of but the club can’t afford to sack. Not looking over there either.
I’d say, all things considered, we’ve done very well to be in the position we’re in. We’ve had our hiccups this year, as all teams do every year, but we’re going up. That’s the most important thing.
Some could even say 2nd may be better for us long-term than going up as champions. It may even prompt a little extra investment into the squad for next season.
There’s reason to be disappointed with Friday’s result but I think some Newcastle fans feeling aggrieved with the season as a whole, really could do with considering the bigger picture.
As for the rest of the footballing world who are quick to point out this and that about us. Focus on your own side because I think we’re pretty damn fine.
You can follow the author on Twitter @RhysMelhuish22
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