It was the summer of 93, in the McAvelia household it was a day like any other. As I sat down for tea the front door slammed and in walked my Dad, throwing his bait box on the kitchen bench and a rolled up Evening Chronicle onto the table. He sat with a wry smile, I glanced at the paper to see “YURAN”.
Like Charlie Bucket opening his Wonka bar searching for the golden ticket I slowly unrolled the paper with expectation and excitement –
“SERGEI YURAN SIGNS”
Sergei himself was pictured, his granite chin and 1980s wet perm made him look more like a member of the Russian mafia than an international footballer. The name was unknown but apparently Yuran was banging in goals for Benfica, this lad was the next Keegan. It didn’t take long for word to spread and in the following days kids were screaming “Yuran!” in playgrounds across Tyneside.
Much to our disappointment, Sergei Yuran would never play in black and white. Rumour has it Sergei wasn’t happy with the car Newcastle offered him and we pulled out of the deal. Whoever offered him a Ford Fiesta rather than a Sierra Cosworth saved Keegan’s blushes as Sergei signed for Millwall shortly afterwards and proved to be a total flop.
Before the days of Sky Sports, social media and 24-hour news we relied on the Evening Chronicle, Look North and Ceefax for news on player signings. Rumours were spread in schools, pubs and clubs but rarely did the media get it wrong as speculation on transfer dealings was certainly not as rife as it is today.
Fast forward almost 25 years, the most recent transfer window has been pretty disastrous for Newcastle United. Ashley’s promise of funds raised our expectations and I found myself checking Twitter for updates every hour of every day. We craved news, we craved a story, we craved a signing but all we got were rumours, fake news and journalists struggling for the headlines to fill their pages. We hit the web with vengeance and in doing so added fuel to a social media fire that Ashley had lit when he said there was money to spend.
The transfer window was frustrating not only due to the lack of spending but also the total social media meltdown that ensued. Fans not knowing who to blame or who to talk to bashed their keyboards and posted their feelings into a vacuous cyberspace, others took it upon themselves to create fictitious postings to goad us all. So what caused the NUFC social media meltdown? I’ve found a few culprits.
Years ago transfer rumours would typically start with the immortal lines “My Uncle is a taxi driver and he’s just collected (insert name here) from Newcastle Airport”. For years we fell for this gem, along with “My Uncle’s mate works in Gosforth chippy and (insert name here) was there buying battered sausage and chips”
These rumours have now been replaced by a generation of fan boys craving Likes, Shares and Retweets with their photoshopped images. About as funny as gout.
When there’s no news, make something up. This seems to be the logic behind 99% of the social media postings I’ve read this season. If Rafa had signed every player that social media linked us to we’d have a squad big enough to fill the empty seats at Sunderland on match day.
Rafa isn’t happy
Working for Mike Ashley isn’t easy, ask anyone at Sports Direct about that. But let’s be honest, nobody knows what Rafa is thinking other than Rafa, possibly his wife, maybe his hairdresser and potentially his favourite waiter at El Coto. With a shortage of signings and therefore headlines we’ve seen speculation, mind reading techniques and witchcraft used to force a story into the press. Journos have a tough job pleasing us Geordies, but I’ll kick my phone into the Tyne if I read another “Ooh Rafa isn’t happy!” story.
Can’t we just sign everyone?
I wouldn’t tell Stephen Hawking about my big bang theories or question his quadratic equation calculations, I certainly wouldn’t tell Rafa Benitez who he should be signing. However, as other clubs throw their money at the market and players slip through our fingers we all get very excited over players who couldn’t, shouldn’t or wouldn’t sign for us.
The only thing that could make Merson less popular amongst Newcastle fans would be if he appeared on Soccer Saturday wearing a Sunderland kit. I’ve never heard anyone spout such utter drivel as this bloke. Sky roll out his nonsensical cockney gibberish at every given opportunity. Can someone gag this bloke?
As it stands Rafa is still our manager and for that we should be grateful. Who knows what the future holds but I won’t be checking Facebook or Twitter to find the answer. After another tedious transfer window I’m going to sit in a darkened room, away from social media, the doom merchants, the liars and the speculators. I may log on to retweet a funny video of a cat every now and again but my nerves can’t take this any longer.
I’ll be picking up the daily news from The Chronicle from now on, waiting for the day that Sergei Yuran replaces Rafa.
You can follow the author on Twitter @DavidMcAvelia