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Avoid the advance stages of paranoia – Wearing your wellies in the bath and a tinfoil hat at all times

4 years ago

I’m no good at this off-season Newcastle United thing.

I’m a bit old school in some ways, being as I am a hangover from the old print version of The Mag, where we’d put a bit extra stuff into a bumper summer edition then have a few months off.

Even then, I would regularly cause palpitations for the editor with my endearing habit of dragging myself off the pub floor a few hours before the print deadline. While my column space no doubt sat empty but for the provisional wording “Jamie Smith is Unwell” before getting the usual high quality copy in at the last minute.

I thought it was an approach quite reminiscent of James Bond, but probably was viewed as the typical antics of an irritating sod by others.

Anyhow, here I am, still around in the electronic age, but the mindset is a difficult thing to change when you’re in your early to mid thirties. I have a very cynical outlook on the post-season, having been worn right down by years of non-stories, filler and the modern phenomenon of click-bait. Transfers are the only story worth pursuing in the summer and there’s such a colossal amount of fiction out there that I live by a simple rule: until there is a picture of the subject in a shirt, holding a scarf, in front of the East Stand it’s not worth my attention.

As it stands then I’ve read very little so far, as no one’s struck the above pose (apart from Atsu’s conversion from loan to permanent) at time of writing. Given the extensive rebuilding need, it’s starting to get a bit uncomfortable but there’s plenty of time yet so no need for panic. You can at least have confidence that Rafa is overseeing a structured recruitment plan, as opposed to the wild variations on deafening nothingness and intercontinental blitzkrieg we’ve been subjected to in recent years.

This has been reinforced by the news of Graham Carr’s departure, to mixed responses. I have a hope, probably futile, that when Mike Ashley is gone from United, someone with the inside track will write a book exposing the whole shoddy business of the last few years, pointing out the guilty parties in the near ruination of the club.

I honestly couldn’t say how Carr will show up in this light, either as a willing accomplice, complicit as one of the worst in the destruction, or a very capable scout doing his best under appalling limitations, stifled by the ridiculous transfer instructions when trying to push through transfers for the likes of Dele Ali.

Regardless, his departure suggest more control for Rafa, and that’s alright by me. I really do expect transfers soon, probably just in time to knock my article here immediately down to the non-pictorial headline section of The Mag’s front page.

It’s a different kind of transfer that has threatened in recent weeks of course, with idle chattering about the sale of the entire club to a Chinese consortiums. I paid a bit of attention to this…but only because I thought of this joke and wanted to put it everywhere: Hopefully this Chinese takeover will be a roaring success and in a few years time we’ll have won tons!

It got one like on Twitter and my mate Mark openly admitted on Facebook that it took him two days to get it. I don’t think I’m suited to being the sort of bloke what goes viral, and this would never have happened in the old Mag, where I could at least walk around in blissful ignorance, thinking that half of Tyneside thought I was very funny.

Anyhow, the Chinese: load of uber cludge if ever I’ve heard it. I noted the uproar with detached amusement, as the Chronicle went right to town, pitting the desperately excited against the cabbages who were worried a massive money rich purge of the man who has systematically ruined our club might upset their zen or something.

A poll was launched, but guess what? It doesn’t matter what we think, we’re just watching this. The upper echelon billions of football club acquisition means these are hard-nosed transactions conducted by ruthless tyrants and sentiment isn’t a word they know (literally maybe, if they’re Chinese).

Anyone who thinks we need rid of Mike Ashley so we can get a nice man in to run the club all lovely is spending a fortune at the glue shop because there are few nice people that are that rich, and the odd ones that are will be likely spending their excess on people in the world who desperately need it through various foundations.

Usurping Ashley will result in another gaggle of capitalists in charge who would like to swan around the Premier League and make money, although the beleaguered Ellis Short would be a fine star witness in the case for why that just doesn’t happen.

However, the current owner has made such a consistent, masochistic series of self-inflicted fudge-ups that anyone voting to keep him, wants their heid shook until the mental all comes out. Surely it’s not a huge gamble that anyone else would at least point the place in the right direction, not try to rename stuff that’s hundreds of years old and try to make some money from commercial revenue instead of just effectively writing their own name all over the place.

If you’re thinking “better the devil you know” about Mike Ashley then I can only assume you are in the advance stages of paranoia, and wear your wellies in the bath and a tinfoil hat at all times. Take a chance, try something new, put down the oven chips and get a Chinese in.

I apologise if anything I wrote there didn’t happen, or if I missed something massive that did. The truth is, I actually found last season incredibly draining, ultimately successful though it was. Failure last year would have carried such an enormous price that any flirtation with misfortune was too worrying to allow the Championship yomp to be anything like that of 09/10. I was over the moon post-Barnsley, not just with euphoria at the way it had turned out, but with relief it was all over.

Since then I’ve needed a lengthy metaphorical lie down. I’m still happy to be in this recovery phase and focussing on other things.

If possible, can someone let me know when the first picture breaks, remembering the deal: East stand, shirt, scarf.

Follow Jamie on Twitter @Mr_Dolf

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