Have Newcastle fans overestimated what the club should be spending and achieving, or are we bang on?

Before I begin…this is my first article for the mag, so please go easy in the comments!

I’ve been reading for a while so thought I should have a go at contributing.

As a younger Newcastle fan, I can’t say I saw the glory days of the 90s, or Sir Bobby’s positive influence, or the majesty of Shearer.

All I’ve ever known of Newcastle is the reign of Mike Ashley, so I’m probably a bit more pessimistic than most.

Hopefully, having had this unique yet disturbing experience, I can offer a slightly different opinion to most of the current content. However, I’m as enthusiastic as any, so I am always reading articles about Newcastle, and one thing that sticks out – amongst the transfer speculation, the squad evaluations and the Ashley fiasco, is the amount of people saying we should be aiming for top 10 and/or shouldn’t be anywhere near the bottom.

To be frank, I don’t agree. And I’d like to explain why.

Last season was just what Newcastle United needed in my opinion. It was like going on a natural detox to Thailand to flush out all the French from our system (bar Gouffran who was actually alright) and now we’re cleansed. Only thing is, now we think that our body is a temple and the sky is the limit. Personally, I would be happy just to stay up, and delighted with finishing 14th with no real concerns of relegation.

Newcastle have only finished in the top nine once in the last 10 years and that season we had a proven goal scorer to start the season, then a second striker with just as much quality signed in January – Ba and Cisse.

I’m not saying that our whole current squad is poor – but we only have four players that could fit into any team outside the top seven – Gayle, Ritchie, Shelvey and Clark…and that is probably/possibly wishful thinking.

Outside of that quartet, I think Hayden, Lejeune, Atsu, Elliot and Yedlin are all players that could hold their own in the Premier League. Despite this, I think we still need a player of at least Ritchie’s level in the 10 position, as I think Diame and Perez were our worst players out of those who started last season. Also, a striker to match or better Gayle for pure goalscoring, and a left-back of Janmaat or Debuchy’s quality (I would prioritise an attacking midfielder before the others).

I think we have been perfect so far in our transfer dealings and if we could bring in two of the deals I mentioned it would be a great window.

As Newcastle fans preparing for the season starting, I think we all need to lower our expectations a notch. We need to just create a solid squad with no rotten eggs and then bring in more top 10 quality players. I’m not saying a top 10 finish is out of the question, I just think it will only end in disappointment if that is what we’re expecting from this season.

After the atrocities of Pardew, McClaren, Allardyce and co, we finally have a top class manager, and my only worry is Rafa’s expectations.

If Rafa Benitez is happy, I’m happy, and I think that’s probably what we should all aim for.

(If you leave some feedback or opinion that would be much appreciated, as this is my first article and I’d like to know what to do better moving forward.)

(All contributions from Newcastle fans welcome, send articles (as well as ideas/suggestions) to [email protected])

  • Leazes Ender

    This is so obviously a wind-up to attract derision and hits for the site, for the sake of it…. you write like Charlie Fried Banana’s and a load of others…. its the unmistakable hand of one writer…. the Editor.

    Why not leave Bens article at the top instead of trying top bury it under this nonsense Mark?

    It has just exposed Ryder and Co as Liars, they’ve carried on with the deception because the paper paid for their Euro Jaunt…. in the absence of Euro football….


  • Dutch

    At last. Someone talking common sense. It’s good to read positive comments instead of the long winded boring comments recently published by both media and fellow fans as well. RAFA will get the job done his way and his way only. Let’s get together and enjoy the season ahead.

  • Jimmy Wilson

    I think you are spot on m8. We need to build slow and steady and i think this is Rafas plan just keep adding to the quality. Gone are the days when the fans were unhappy the board would buy a big name player to keep the fans off their backs. Like him or loath him Mick Ashley has done it his way because if he pandered to the fans etc we would be another leeds by now or worse.

    • Jezza

      Yes, thank God big name signings like Shearer, Ferdinand, Ginola and Asprilla are a thing of the past. We would never want to return to those dark days would we. The future is a lot brighter for NUFC now that Ashley is frugally economising with loan deals, untried youngsters and Sunderland rejects.

      • Mark Potter

        The players signed by Rafa Benitez? Who is economising on his budget of “every penny available”. Unfortunately, people like Souness and Allerdyce didn’t do that, they spent like the club had a money tree growing in Leazes Park. They nearly bankrupted the club.

      • Mike

        massive wages long contracts………drain the money out of the club…

  • Leicester Mag

    My god how low we low set expectations. Mckeag and Seymour were rightly criticised for small town thinking but theirs was a naivity borne out of an outdated view as opposed to the cynical and deliberate strategy of Ashley and co. 10 years and counting if this is the level of expectations moving forward I worry evermore about our future

    • Leazes Ender

      Its Mark Jensen being daft…… He had the same wind-up a few days ago A poster called Dom Morgan who said he had his ear to the ground….. I looked up his twitter account and it seems that the ‘ground’ he had his ear to was….. Kent.

    • Kneebotherm8

      It was like a breath of fresh air when dinosaurs Mckeag and Seymour were ousted by John Hall and the Magpie group. From heading for relegation to the third division,we just survived and it was onwards and upwards with Keegan leading the way. From being a joke outfit,we became the entertainers and everyone’s second team( apart from the mackems,of course). I’m dreaming but,It’d be great if history could repeat itself.

    • Jezza

      Yes good point. Although Seymour and McKeag were constantly holding the club back with their insular, small minded, backward thinking approach and were universally despised by fans, they never bled the club dry to line their pockets to anything like the extent that Ashley is doing. They never used the club as a vast free advertising platform for their business interests either.

      • Mark Potter

        Surely the opposite is the case? They did take money from the club in the bad old days, while Ashley has never taken a penny from the club, while twice putting money in as “loans” during the two seasons in the Championship, with little expectation they would be repaid, unless the club is sold.

        Why do you make such blatantly false statements? The company accounts are online. You can read them. The numbers are not very hard to understand for anyone with a reasonable grasp of arithmetic.

        • Jezza

          “Ashley has never taken a penny from the club”

          I’m not the one making “blatantly false statements” here.

          • Mark Potter

            Evidence? Point out the line in the NUFC company accounts where he received any money from the club as income, either a salary/remuneration as a director or employee, or a dividend as a shareholder. The accounts are online, anyone can request them from the Companies House website. The list of directors, and the legal owner of the club’s shares are also available. Ashley’s relationship with the club is set out in full in the notes to the accounts.

            Have a read of them, let us know what you find. It will be zero. Your claim is false.

          • Jezza

            Answer this one then. How comes the club debt has risen from £53 million since Ashley took over to £130 million now while the club has made £100 million transfer profit in that time. If Ashley isn’t taking money out of the club I’d like to know where it is all going. Also since you’re such an expert on the club accounts, tell me how much money NUFC receive from Sports Direct for all having those huge advertising logos plastered all over St James’s Park.

  • Steve Pearce

    You see this is what happens when a site run by the fans for the fans allows its members to contribute. Level headed and honest opinions free of any restraint by The Trinity Mirror Group and free of boring stolid rubbish by that gnome Lee Ryder. I agree with everything that was said, but if I contributed and article it would descend into utter insanity and I’d probably be carted off to St.Nick’s to play endless games of table football with John Carver…..

  • Alex

    I feel really sorry for you – having your entire football supporting life under Ashley. Awful.

    But, apart from that, I’ve not much sympathy with your article. Naive, I’d say.

    You reckon fans are expecting too much? Come on! Look at the poll of where we expect to finish – that tells you our expectations are absolutely minimal.

    There’s £100m due over the next 9 months. There’s no reason why, say, just £30m of that can’t be bridged now, by bank or by Ashley, in order to give the one or two classier players to Rafa that the club desperately needs.

  • TheFatController

    Can the editor stop the writers patronising fans with the repeated mantra of ‘inferior intellect fans who think we can achieve top 10’

    By all means quote any poll you like to back up the ‘percentage of fans saying top 10 likely’, maybe factor out an amount for votes made that were ‘spoilers’ (ie having a laugh putting ‘first’) – but can we stop generalising that ‘I’ve seen a lot of fans commenting we are going to be top 10/sign Messi or that Murphy will be PFA Player of the Year’

    It’s just the writer setting the article up to sound smug and patronising that they’re some sort of football/Newcatle genius putting the idiots right on the reality of things.

    Imagine picking up the FT every day and reading ‘I see a lot of people are saying the £ will be worth 1.50 € soon, let me tell you it’ll be around €1.13 – 1.15 for a long time to come’ – absolutely stunning financial genius insight revelation writing..

    • Tom Robson

      Fair enough on your opinion your right. I didn’t mean to come across as all the fans are aiming really high I just meant some are expecting us to be challenging in the first season. I just see a lot of articles criticising because we aren’t signing people and I’m trying to balance it out.

      • TheFatController

        I think there have always been fans who will say ‘top 10 and a Cup’ because now’s the only time it’s not obvious it’s unrealistic –
        Til we start the games…

        I think those ‘top tenners’ would caveat that they are ‘eternal optimists’ and would point to the ‘Leicester phenomenum’ as a counter that you can’t always go off money spent or squad quality as defining where you’ll finish.

        Mind, when you think Dan gosling and Simpson are regulars in the PL maybe even I can dream we may get to….12th

      • Steven05

        Well Tom, I’ll tell you what I think: Your article is very good. I actually think we’ll finish mid table but would be happy to stay up this season, then get the huge transfer kitty that last season’s premier league teams have already got. Expectation levels aren’t exactly high, but there are sadly a few ‘fans/supporters’ who refuse to be positive about anything NUFC and just wait for us to fail. Keep writing mate!

  • Paul9

    Look on the bright side at least you didn’t have to put up with lord westwood he made Ashley look good

    • Hughie_Gallacher

      He once passed me and my mate at Newcastle Central. We immediately broke into a chorus of “Westwood is a pirate.”

    • Jezza

      Yes, the old one eyed pirate. I can relate to that. I feel sorry for this guy only ever knowing the Ashley regime but then again for my first 15-20 years supporting NUFC I had only ever known variations of the dreaded Westwood-Seymour-McKeag regime.

  • Guest 2

    Who ever goes to Thailand to detox??? As for transfer speculation – ignore the lot. Of the 5 signings made only Atsu was on any ‘experts’ radar.

    • Leazes Ender

      Same people who travel to Germany for a reserve game.

      • Oooh bobbi fleckman

        You don’t travel any further than your armchair for a game so what hivrs?

  • Mrkgw

    I’m sorry for you Tom. A lifetime of watching the Ashley Newcastle would dampen any supporters expectations. But, I disagree that we should be aiming no higher than bottom half. The club should never have been relegated. Twice is unforgivable and just evidences the manner in which the club has been stripped back. It’s not on. Nor, is it acceptable and never, ever will be. Ashley out!

    • Leazes Ender

      Don’t feel sorry for him, it’s the Mag Editor/ owner Mark Jensen….. he does this a lot.

  • Lord

    Rather than having to detox every 5 years, I’d rather we ate and drank a bit more sensibly every season. If we had not got relegated, I am pretty sure Rafa would have managed a good clear out and we’d be in a better place than we are now.

    Sympathies to you for never experiencing the Keegan & Robson days. On the bright side you missed out on Dalglish, Gullit and Souness ripping apart lovingly crafted squads.

    If you had been around when we were everyone’s number 2 club and on the cusp of Champions League football on a regular basis, you might be a bit less sanguine about a second relegation in ten years and a series of bottom ten finishes which is an unforgivable fall from grace in my opinion.

    Still, kudos for sticking your head above the parapet and posting a well written article.

  • Oooh bobbi fleckman

    Supporting a football club has its ups and downs, I started as supermac was sold and fully aware that disappointment is far more prevalent than celebration, something some supporters and glory hunters seem unable to grasp.

    Obviously we should aim high, I think the 2009 relegation was more of a detox than this one as we are rather heavy on the ground in terms of players who will find it difficult to shine in the EPL. This is a season of optimistic consolodation.

    • TheNutJob

      Not of you support Real Madrid it doesnt

    • Fleckman hoop licker

      One thing I detest about Newcastle supporters is their glory hunting. Im a proper fan, I remember standing watching Albert Bennett in the old popular side when there was 100,000 watching us and I’ll tell you now, they would have loved an owner like the wonderful mike Ashley. Back then nobody ever complained about relegation as they were proper fans. Alan Shearer ? He took us down remember? Nothing to do with Mike Ashley, nor was the other relegation. Or the other times we nearly went down. He’s only owned the club ten years and we’ve only been relegated twice, that’s a phenomenal record. Thanks for the memories Mr Ashley, you’re the best thing that’s ever happened to nufc !!

      • Mike


  • TheNutJob

    I started going in the KK era as manager, apart from a brief respite with Sir Bobby the rest has been pure unadulterated schitt

  • Leazes Ender

    Well done Tom….. you have we;ll and truly buried a good article expose by Ben under a pile of garbage

    • Tom Robson

      What do you mean?

      • Leazes Ender

        It doesn’t require any explanation.

        • Tom Robson

          Who’s Ben

          • David Craig

            If a conversation is taking place and one party asks, politely, for an explanation, because they don’t understand what the other participant has said, the right thing to do would be to offer an explanation. Anything else would be rude.

            Good article, Tom. I like your body cleanse analogy. Hopefully, we can get those signings and enjoy the season.

          • Leazes Ender

            One comment David Craig…..AKA Mark Jensen….. you bloody fool, you are taking the p*ss as much as the Chronicle boys.

          • David Craig

            Fool? Thanks for that. You spend your days trolling, on here, probably, haven’t been to a match in years and your explanation is that Mark Jensen writes most of the articles! Very insightful and astute. Give the lad a chance and go back under your bridge, please.

          • Leazes Ender

            Let him come on here and deny it…… congrats on your second post…. you sound exactly like all of the other minions sent out to have a stab.

          • David Craig

            Haha you should do stand up!

          • Leazes Ender

            Read the Mag and find out Mark.

          • Lord

            Is Sam Hepworth an alias for Ben?

          • Leazes Ender

            Could be

          • Leazes Ender

            He’s Sam

  • George

    I began going in the Harvey era, I remember winning the Fairs Cup. Losing to Liverpool and Man City at Wembley. SuperMac, Shoulder, Shearer. In all that time the club, (my club) I never gave up hope. I did not expect us to win the league, just to try to. Ashley is only concerned with staying up. 17th every season would suit him. It does not do for me, or any supporter. We are better than that, we deserve better and so does Rafa.

  • Mal

    Congrats on your first article. Well done. The only thing I would say is that I don’t think many of us have unrealistic expectations; we just don’t want to be involved in yet another relegation scrap. Last year’s 10th top team achieved 45 points from 38 games. Hardly reaching for the moon if that’s what we’re asking for.

  • Ross Harrison

    Congrats on your first article mate, it was good! I would say that my expectations are probably to finish around 15th, although that is not to say we are incapable of achieving anything this season. I too have only seen the Ashley era, so I can’t compare with 90’s/better times! I would just love us to have a go at Europe just like we did only a few years ago.

  • GToon

    Nice article. If you want to know how some of us see life at NUFC under Ashley then imagine you are doing your school sports day and 50,000 people are cheering you on. You are on the start line and then as the gun goes you realize you can hardly move because a fat bloke has got hold of your shirt and he won’t let go. That’s how it feels Tom.

  • Bad Mole

    Gouffran was actually alright? I missed that match.