**Disclaimer – I am not a doom-merchant, I am so happy with where we are this season and I love Newcastle United.

Over the course of the past year a number of Newcastle players have gone through stages of taking their fair share of criticism.

First it was Paul Dummett, then it was (and still is) Jack Colback. Now, the captain Jamaal Lascelles has come into the spotlight due to his poor and inconsistent performances, particularly since Christmas.

Criticism is an aspect of football that is ingrained within the sport, in fact it is ingrained within every sport. However, amongst certain sections of our fan-base, the term criticism seems to have taken on a different meaning.

It appears as though, according to some, no Newcastle fans are allowed to say bad things about their own players. If a player has played absolutely rubbish, then we are no longer allowed to say it.

If it is said, then those that do say it, are accused of jumping on the bandwagon, and putting a player down simply for the sake of it.

At what point do we stop calling a spade a spade?

If a player has had a bad game, then it should be said that a player has had a bad game.

If a player has played consistently bad over a period of time, then it should be said that he has played bad over a period of time.

Of course, I admit that there are some people in the stands who seem intent of picking out their least favourite players and having a go at them whenever possible. I recently sat in front of a man at Ipswich who seemed determined to prove to his young son that Paul Dummett was rubbish. In the end, the young lad said to his Dad “shut up, Dummett is playing well today”.

I was even accused of this myself at Brighton away. After Jack Colback was awarded a free-kick and instead of getting on with the game, he chose to remonstrate with the referee about god knows what (we had just conceded to go one down). This is something I really hate and I muttered to myself, “howay man Colback, get on with the game.” The man in front of me objected to this and accused me of wanting Colback to fail… maybe he too was a bit frustrated at the scoreline.

The point is, for some reason, as fans we are becoming more aggressive to fellow fans criticising the players and I don’t understand why.

Here’s a few facts;

  • On the whole, Mo Diame and Ayoze Perez have been absolutely rubbish this season. So what is wrong with saying it?
  • Away from home, Newcastle United have been incredibly boring and tedious to watch this season. I know, because I’ve been there. So what is wrong with saying it?
  • Jamaal Lascelles has been nowhere near the top ten centre backs in the league this season, never mind the team of the year. So what is wrong with saying it?
  • While they clearly fit into Rafa’s game plan, the likes of Jack Colback and Yoan Gouffran have been really poor this season.
  • Mike Ashley will never change and as long as he is our owner, we should always worry about the future of our club.
  • Aleksandar Mitrovic is a 22 year old centre forward who is yet to score (regular/enough) goals in a Newcastle shirt, despite the club spending £13 million on him.

These are all facts that people simply don’t want to hear. As Newcastle fans, we are a fickle old bunch. When we are winning games, top of the league, it is quite clear that most fans don’t care less about anything else, and therefore don’t want to hear it.

Too many people now live in a football world where we want to idolise players so much, rather than seeing them for what they are, human beings. Perhaps too often on social media we see fans messaging players with extremely ‘loved up’ quotes, clearly in the hope that they like their message or retweet their tweet.

Ayoze Perez or Jesus Gamez only have to tweet a picture for everyone to tell them how great they are… clearly in the hope that they will recognise their tweet. Similarly, Newcastle only have to sign a young 18 year old from Spain, and he will be labelled the next best thing, when in reality, he will never be good enough, just like most of the other kids at Newcastle… just don’t let anyone hear you say it.

After one game recently, someone tweeted Jamaal Lascelles saying “you were *** today” and he was by the way! Immediately, fellow NUFC fans jumped on the tweet and harassed the poor lad… for simply telling the truth. The reasons they gave was that the tweet was mean, and saying this wouldn’t make him play any better. Clearly they have never played football…

Now I am not saying that when a player plays bad you should go on social media and give him abuse, that’s wrong, and I would question any fans’ love for Newcastle United if they abuse their own players. At the same time, during the 90 minutes while the players on the pitch, as long as they are giving 100%, we should be supporting them unconditionally.  However, why some people want to cuddle the players is beyond me. They are professional footballers.

On the the side we have the official local media channels in the North East, who once again, like to make out that every Newcastle player is brilliant, Mike Ashley is brilliant, Rafa Benitez is brilliant (even though he is), we are second in the league and nothing negative can ever be said.

If the local media, can’t even say when a player is rubbish, then what’s the point? A look at the Chronicle’s Lee Ryder’s match ratings after every game tells a story… not once has he ever came out and said ‘he was rubbish today’, even though he is probably thinking it. So why is this?

Again, we appear to live in a football world where we don’t dare be critical of anyone. The local media certainly aren’t going to ask the players why they were rubbish last weekend, or ask Rafa why he continues to play such boring football.

Why? Because they want to be friends with the stars, they want to keep their access to the players because that’s cool, rather than actually reporting on what’s going on.

Please don’t misunderstand the point of this article. Things at Newcastle are going brilliantly at the moment. In the grand scheme of things, we are second in the league and heading back to the Premier League with a stable squad, stable finances (bar the £129,000,000 we are in ‘debt ‘to Mike Ashley) and have one of the best managers in the world.

However, if we get to the stage where we can’t say a player has played rubbish, when he has played rubbish, then what’s the point?

Football is a game of opinions.

I loathe Michael Owen but I remember being 11 years old in the Leazes End on the day he signed and Justin Lockwood asked him “it’s going to be a lot of pressure performing in front of this lot isn’t it?”

To which he replied “well, if you can’t handle pressure then you shouldn’t be a footballer.”

You can follow the author on Twitter @JonathanComyn

(All contributions from Newcastle fans welcome, send articles to [email protected])

  • Geordiegiants

    If we went by your way, Keegan, Robson would never of succeeded. They would take a bang average player: Take Howey for argument sake, he was terrible, a bit like Mitro now. He put him at centre half and told him he was the best he had ever seen play in that position, and bingo he gets an England call up. Scott Sellars an average player with a bit a of talent, BANG what a player he turned into with Keegan telling him he was the best. Look at what Robson done with a very average player Hatelty in the World Cup etc. The list is endless for both our best mangers ever.
    Rafa has done the same with Anita for argument sake. Negativity breads negativity and vice versa with positivity. It feeds down from the fans!

    • nevfur

      Well said and good examples

  • nevfur

    A lot of this seems a bit contradictory, however I agree players shouldn’t be above criticism. It’s the way it’s done and the times it’s done and the consistency of it that matters. When playing I think we should always be fully supportive of our players whether or not we think they are good enough or shouldn’t be in the team or are having a bad game because slating them at the game is counter productive to the team as a whole who we support and want to see win and isn’t going to make him improve. We should support them and cheer them on and encourage them to play above themselves and improve as lower teams do in the cup against the big names.
    The criticism should also be constructive if possible. Just tweeting someone to say they were S*** today is pointless and abusive. We do also have those who will never like a particular player despite the evidence in front of them. I think Dummett is fairly average and usually unexciting but but he for me has been solid and pretty consistent this season. Favourite targets for the boo boys have always existed here and I find it poor to treat our own players they way some do.
    If a player has played badly it’s ok to say so after the game and also say how and why. If he’s consistently bad the same. We can all think of some we think should be moved on at the end of the season but we should support at the game, be consistent and constructive with criticism and trust the manager especially someone like Rafa. As for boring performances get used to it because it appears to be his style but I would rather bore myself to our number of away points from this season than constantly watch some of the pathetic capitulations away from home we have become accustomed to in most seasons. I keep saying it but no one at Arsenal was complaining as they one nilled their way to trophies and I certainly wouldn’t either.

    • Damon Horner

      Agreed. I could sit in a pub with you and give honest opinions of all players but doing it in an environment where you have a public platform and in position to influence others should really be done with more careful consideration because as you say, it becomes counter productive. We could have a gem of a player who makes a tricky start and we could ruin him before he shows his value.

      • nevfur

        Definitely. As a coach we had a lad who couldn’t head the ball or control it but with time and patience became one of our top players and captain. Support and constructive comments are far more use than abusing your own lads. Ok some will never make it and will get moved on in time but still deserve help and support whilst here.

        • Damon Horner

          The judgement of when to cut losses and keep pursuing a players development makes the difference between a good coach and an excellent one.

          It becomes a bit more of an issue with undue perseverance or an air of complacency from the management.

          I sympathise with the likes of Lascelles because he has all of a sudden come from the cold to leading a club of this size, that coupled with the high and poorly assessed opinion of his performances has probably left him mentally tired. The point of that being the basis of why the article was written in the first place.

          • nevfur

            He still has all the attributes to be a top centre half. All the top ones make these mistakes early in their careers. He just needs a good coach (Rafa), a good partner, experience (which he is getting) and to learn from his mistakes which is crucial and the hard part but I think he had a good chance of getting there with support and patience.

          • Geordiegiants

            Rafa has seen quicker than a lot of our fans that Mitro for arguments sake just isn’t good enough. He has seen that if he perseveres with Lascelles he will come good. He also knows that the likes of Anita, Colback, Perez etc etc don’t quiet make the mark but can be useful if called upon.

          • nevfur

            Probably true although I fear that in Mitros case he just isn’t really the type of player who fits into Rafas style and formation. Handy type of player to have in the squad but not a regular. Gayle is fast and mobile and I think this is the type of player Rafa wants as his main striker although a big man in the squad is useful. Can’t see that back up role suiting Mitro understandably so I fear he will move on and probably do well in a team that plays a big target man regularly. Best for both parties I suppose. We have to allow Rafa to play his way and trust him. Would wish Mitro nothing but the best if he goes though (unless playing against us lol) like many others I like the lad.

          • Geordiegiants

            I have no dispute that he is a likeable lad, he tries his best and loves our club and city, unfortunately he just isn’t good enough.

  • Jimblag23

    Quite an annoying article.
    Essentially grumpy bloke wants to moan but that doesn’t make him negative.
    The point is EVERYONE IS ALWAYS MOANING! So what’s being campaigned for? That little bullet point list are points that have been repeatedly aired numerous times every week pretty much all season.

  • LeroyGibbs

    Dear Mr Double-barrelled surname….your “facts” as you call them are actually just your opinion presented as facts. Putting it another way, your opinion is your opinion, and is worth as much as anyone else’s – but your opinion is not “facts”.

    • Geordiegiants

      They aren’t even very good points never mind facts.

  • MichaelMaximusMoose

    Opinion, out of a 25 man squad 20 of them are Shyte & the championship is their limit

    • nevfur

      Just the kind of opinion that gets us to sell off players that “aren’t premier league quality” such as Danny, I’ve got a Champions medal, Simpson. Even top teams need the journeymen and some of our squad will be in that category.

  • Damon Horner

    It’s about balance and moderation. Ritchie’s error led to the first goal against Ipswich yet I seen myself defending Lascelles for it. Bow had it been Colback, we’d still be reading articles now about it.

    Darlow made consecutive errors and it was said he’d earned the right. Had it been Sels?

    Over criticising players for lesser crimes than what other players have done looks more like vendetta than a point of view.

  • HappyToons

    ‘At what point do we stop calling a spade a spade?’ … when it answers back, RUN!

    A shovel of shyte was our squad and Rafa managed to add a little bit of glitter and we will (hopefully) come up smelling of roses. Who cares how as long as we go up. I think 99.99% would have settled for promotion after our start by ‘any’ means. The other 0.01% are still answering back to the garden spade and looking for Terry Vegetables.

  • Hughie_Gallacher

    The Stalinist attitude of the exploiter Ashley appears to have rubbed off on some supporters.

  • kevin nolan

    I would agree with this somewhat everyone can be open to criticism but its the constant level of criticism by a large section of the support base which has been corrosive and infectious over recent years, criticizing players before they’ve even touched the ball, booing a good attempted pass,errors which any footballer could make met with vitriol, its not just the criticism its the constant level of it without offering any positive vocal support, and people are just sick do death of it and thats why I really dont want to hear it any more. And to be honest this article is about not being able to criticize players whilst criticizing players. And if your not allowed to how come all of these “facts” you list I’ve heard constantly all season long?

  • Damon Horner

    I think this article says you should be entitled to criticise anybody and voice an opinion but don’t criticise the person doing the criticising!

    • Mal

      Well said.