Ever since following Newcastle United there has always been that one missing piece to the jigsaw, ultimately resulting in stale attempts of glory and dire pitfalls leading to relegation.
However, with the excitement on the news of a potential new owner, there has been a whirlwind across the city and beyond, because if things fall into place then us fans realise we can at last dare to dream.
There are 4 parts of a football club that must all be as one to demand success – The board, the manager, the players & most importantly, the fans.
They must all be on the same page, all having the exact same realistic expectations as one another, not only on the pitch, but day-to-day and minute-by-minute.
I remember the days of false hope under Shepherd and Hall, two Geordies who are rightly loved for their passion and willingness to be as ambitious as they possibly could, to get that elusive piece of silverware.
Every time we seemed close there was always that one piece of the jigsaw that seemed to fall off and we’d fail at the final hurdle.
Unfortunately for us fans, the easy cop out for the media, other fans and ex-players alike, is to blame us for having ‘ridiculous expectations’, or ‘expecting to be a Champions League team’.
When in actual fact there have been numerous factors each leading us to where we seem to be today – A yo-yo club with seemingly no ambition, coupled alongside a ridiculously large fanbase, with the club being the heartbeat of their life.
Let’s face it, a massive percentage of Newcastle fans follow the club with an unbelievable amount of passion, with football being a central part of our lives.
It is down to this that a lot of football players can’t deal with the pressures associated with playing for our club.
There can be no denial that we’ve had some cracking players grace the shirt but it has been a minority of them that couldn’t handle the constant personal requirements to be successful.
Because of the passion for football amongst Newcastle fans, we have a vast understanding of the game, thus being able to analyse players’ performances and team contribution in-depth. We understand a player’s skills and we accept their downfalls.
But unfortunately in the past there have been players with much more potential than they have delivered, and when fans get on their backs we get hung out to dry for having unrealistic expectations.
Players have been happy, lapping up our plaudits, but more importantly – at times they have been even happier to hide behind excuses other than being honest about their own input.
It hasn’t always been the players’ fault, at times, especially recently – as there have been changes at board level making it difficult, appointments of incapable managers, and recruitment of below average players leading to the fans to be unhappy, ultimately obliterating the 4 parts of the jigsaw.
Two years ago, when Ashley promised to ‘bolt the horse to the carriage’ he actually bought some decent players, and we had an alright team (barring an area or two), by no means a team that should have went down.
Only to appoint McClaren, providing absolutely no defensive stability to our game whatsoever. We would regularly lose the ball with our defence out of shape, with clearly no instruction for midfielders to cover, or the defence to re-form as a centralised three to block out spaces.
We were easy to play against, our heads would drop, our players would sulk. All the while the players knew that in this day and age with ‘player power’ that they could afford to give 90%, as the manager will eventually take responsibility, and they would get their move if the club went down.
In actual fact it was partially down to McClaren’s defensive inability, but mainly down to talented players constantly giving 10% less than what is needed at any level in football, as they certainly had the talent to get the points needed here and there.
It was at this point fans would get on the players’ back, because talent beats hard work, but when talent doesn’t work hard you’re screwed, as we were.
Yet on the back of it our fans got stick for recognising ability, although we repeatedly witnessed a clear lack of hard work.
With Hall and Shepherd Newcastle United were ambitious, signing talented players and spending money so we wouldn’t get left behind. Yet there was little concentration being based on the character of the individual, as being able to handle the heat of the passion is the biggest attribute needed at our club.
Under our previous owners, whilst KK/SBR were in charge, the only jigsaw piece missing was the players, enough players with the cutting edge character/passion needed.
You could argue if KK had of decided to run a training session on defending we may have won something but all the same there were some entertaining times.
I’m under no illusion that financially the club was being run on egg shells, and it is for that reason we have to ‘thank’ Mike Ashley, as we were seriously in danger of becoming the ‘next Leeds Utd’ with the amount of debt and payment plans in place.
We’ve had it both: owners willing to spend, but at times on the wrong players, and now an owner that doesn’t want to spend, yet sell whenever an asset appears in the playing squad.
Every cloud has a silver lining and MA’s tenure could be remembered as a stabilisation period on a financial level to attract an investor.
At this moment in time we have the manager, the players and the fans as one, and to have a new owner that will buy into our passion then we will again have a platform to progress.
It will take hard work, and no doubt plenty of highs and lows, but if we get the right owner in place then we could eventually break our long-time trophy duck!
Rafa knows exactly what character is required at the club and if he is given honesty and integrity from an owner then he could eventually be the one to wake the sleeping giant.
Enjoy the rollercoaster ahead, and even if the takeover talk is a smoke-screen, then at least stick behind the players we have to ensure we remain where we belong.