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.

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  • Paul Patterson

    Did anybody hear the caller on Total Sport last week, a guy named ‘Jack’. He went out of his way to praise Mike Ashley. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. He rightly pointed out the financial stability we are now with at the club, but failed to mention ANY of the self inflicted mishaps and restrictions put in place at the club over the last 10 years under Ashley.
    As far as thanking the man, forget it. Hall and Shepherd were far from ideal but this club has been deliberately restricted from success over the last decade.

    • Steve McClaren

      I’d like to go on record and thank Mike, he financially backed me but bad luck meant injuries went against me.
      It’s not through the want of trying, Mike truly loves the club.

      • Mike D

        More down too poor management than bad luck.

      • steve pearce

        Ha ha ha ha ha – The real Great Minge Headed Idiot is so dumb he can’t write more than two words before his brain starts to hurt and he suffers from the delusion that he is a world class football manager.

        Nice try mate!

    • Hughie_Gallacher

      Yes, I heard him. Not for long, though, as I turned him off. Some of the supporters are incredibly thick. Either that, or suffering from some kind of Stockholm syndrome.

      • Paul Patterson

        He was perfectly entitled to give his opinion and sometimes when people defend Ashley their points can be valid, but let’s not go the whole hog and thank him for the last ten years, as the vast majority of it has been a total disaster.

    • TheFatController

      Ashley should be thanking Rafa – Ashley is the man (it was said) couldn’t understand why the squad last season didn’t win more games.

      One look at Villa, Boro and sunderland this season should tell Ashley football is about momentum, unity, vision, good management (as this article rightly suggests across the four elements).

      The hard job in English football is getting a relegated PL side back up – Hughton and Rafa thus saved us from doing a Leeds (plus Keegan who picked up results following Allardyce being sacked) both men (and obviously Keegan) probably wouldn’t choose to work for Ashley however – so Ashley may have some financial acumen, but clearly has no idea what makes a good manager, and for that weakness we can’t really thank him, it’s quite important good managers want to work for an owner.

      • Down Under Mag

        I always said when Pardew was here we either needed to spend money on better players for a cheap manager to cover his shortcomings OR as we have now, get in a top class manager with a set vision and a plan and get the best out of what he has available. Now that we have a firm foundation Rafa needs to begin attracting the better players to continue the work he has started so well and to do that he needs financial investment which Ashley is obviously unwilling to sanction. Surely with what Spurs are being valued at Ashley can see that a little investment now he has a top class manager in would help to get fans back on side, give the manager what he wants to push the club forward and give us the potential to be more successful, improve out image brand overseas and make the club much more valuable in the long run. It doesn’t need to be a 500m quid spending spree either, just competitive and let Rafa work his magic. But, it isn’t what Ashley is about an dhe won’t do that any time soon so we are left hoping that a sale goes through and we get new owners who are willing to do what is needed. Fingers crossed!

    • Down Under Mag

      To be honest there is a point for Ashley stabilising the club financially…if the bottom were to fall out of the TV money and clubs left to secure their futures on their own financial viability right now then I don’t know many clubs who would not be struggling…add to that if financial fair play was truly implemented and enforced then almost all Premiership clubs would b eguilty, especially the big ones at the top who are propped up by oil money and billionaire owners. We aren’t, we are actually going along on what we make and could easily be the best off club in the country if the market collapses.
      Having said that, we are missing out on money because of the ludicrous freebie advertising Ashley gifts himself and the lack of interest in high paying sponsors anyway because Ashley has dragged the clubs name through the mud. The fans get no joy off a balanced bank balance, it makes not one iota of difference to us if we turn a profit every season when it inevitably results in rubbish football on the pitch and doomed to be a yo-yo club. There has to be a common ground, where the football does actually factor into the equation at some point.

    • Rich Lawson

      Must have been Colback,bitter over Rafa leaving him out ?

  • Leazes Ender

    What Debt?… there was No debt until it was manufactured, you bloody fool!

    • Wor Monga

      …The spending had gone through the roof on some very misguided signings, and the team had certainly not improved in terms of results or the players worth appreciated, in value…in fact under Shepherd the club was going back very fast, and the money was being sourced from the bank in a manner that couldn’t be allowed to continue indefinitely…

      …Freddie had only one course of action left to him, and that was find a rich dipstick, and abandon the sinking ship…so rein your head in for once…and stop the name calling,eh scrote!!!

      • TheNutJob

        you need to read up on the actual sale of Newcastle & the aftermath

        • Wor Monga

          Why like?…was the club awash with money…with a brilliant young squad and well placed around the top 4 when Freddie got rid of it…because if that was the case then why did he have to sell it to the only one stupid enough to pay his asking price without having the benefit of any proper due diligence!!!

          • Guest 2

            Freddie didn’t want to sell – he was scuppered by SJH selling his holding first.

      • Guest 2

        The Club was run in the same manner as every other PL team. How many of them ‘did a Leeds’ as a result of it?

        The whole Leeds garbage is nowt but Ashley spin which far too many so called supporters are still eager to regurgitate.

  • steve pearce

    Totally agree – we need a new owner who is not a pariah, who is honourable. who conducts their affairs with dignity, who cares about our club and its fans and has the financial means to both sign the players Rafa wants and to help us realise our true potential

    The Fat Stinking Bag Of Southern Pus has none of those attributes and that is why he is the most hated man ever to be associated with Newcastle United!

  • Alan Pardew

    I want to keep the fans in a good place but I would say to them, before they get emotional about it, that Mike has invested something like 25 per cent of his personal wealth in this football club. Ask me for 25 per cent of my money and you’ve got no chance. I don’t care how good your idea is.

    • Guest 2

      His ‘personal wealth’ is still north of 2 Billion quid. His ‘investment’ in NUFC therefore is 10% of that – or less when you factor in the 29 million he repaid himself and the Gallowgate land development which the Club owned and he is now building on for his own profit.

      • Alan Pardew

        At least you can logically look at it and say we are in a much better position than most Premier League clubs in terms of our financial position.

        • Guest 2

          I can logically look at your previous comment and state “liar, liar, pants on fire”.

        • HarryHype59

          Actually NUFC and the Makems are in the top five debt list in English football!

  • Guest 2

    “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.”

    WTF are you smoking? Under H&S we experienced the best football and results most of us have ever witnessed at St James’.

    • Kaz

      I agree.

      Some of the football we witnessed under Hall/Shepherd was unbelievable.

      But when you consider that we were so far ahead in the title race then blew it, or that throughout both KK & SBR tenures we repeatedly seemed good enough to challenge for a cup, but never won a scooby then it shows there was an ingredient missing.

      We didn’t have enough character in depth (by no means saying Shearer, Speed, Robert et al weren’t good enough), quite simply we didn’t have enough winners.

      Our only realistic way to break our duck is in a cup, and think back to all of the cup failures we have had (other than the recent years of it being our kids’ game).

      The constant under-performers against lower opposition, players not turning up in big games.

      Why? – Character

      • Guest 2

        I can’t agree with you and I think your suggestion belittles the achievements of those players and the Club at the time. Sounds like you expected us to buy instant success.

        We finished third in the first season promoted to the PL – followed by 6th and then two 2nd places. We lost the title by 4 points – in a season when Man Utd managed seven 1-0 wins between January and season end and Cantona scored 5 of them.

        That’s the same Man Utd which finished 1st three times and 2nd once during the same time. Moreover, they won the title 7 times and finished 2nd three times in 9 successive seasons.

        I remain epicly proud of KK’s side and I still have no doubt that if SBR hadn’t been the gentleman he was – and had ditched Barca to come as KK’s replacement (like who would?)- then success in the shape of some form of trophy would have arrived.

        • Kaz

          I appreciate my opinion may have been written harshly, with no credit given to the achievements of the players in that era.

          It is not that I don’t think the things we achieved were amazing, as they clearly were.

          The players deserve to be lauded for giving the fans the experiences we had.

          Essentially it may have come down to two things; we either didn’t have enough quality numerically in the squad, or the individuals lacked that cutting edge winning character needed.

          My point being, in footballing history squads that boast the same amount of quality have trophies to show for it.

          The difference between winning in losing is the character to remain focused for 90 minutes, to deliver the same quality for the whole season, and most importantly when an opportunity is there winners thrive and grasp it. They play better under the pressure and reap medals as a result.

          Our squads had quality, and I will forever respect the players for our history and the experiences gave.

          But look at Leicester for example, not the greatest quality throughout, but character and ability to be consistent, thriving with the pressure.

          Had we had an extra character or two back in the day then maybe our hunt for a trophy would be over.

  • Gallowgate Dave

    Hall & Shepherd paid themselves handsomely while racking up debt (though no different to a lot of Premier League clubs mind). Ashley on the other hand robbed us of any ambition, relegated us twice, made us a selling club, sold us as a stepping stone to players, cheapened us as a club and sold some of our best players against manager’s wishes. Yet still our debt increased and if reports are to be believed he expects £400 million to compensate for the debt he has accrued. So can anyone explain why some of us are still peddling the myth that he’s been a financial success for our club?!

  • Sing in the Leazes

    The blame for Ashley lies with Hall. He decided to give him our club. Obviously didn’t care who he was. Just wanted his money. As was his right, true.
    But don’t you dare come over all matey and ‘Proud Geordie Nation’ on telly if money is more important than our precious club to you Mr ‘Sir John’ Hall. It’s more than a business if you’re a Geordie. In feudal times someone like you’d have wanted us to fight your wars and die for your ‘local Lord’ claptrap.
    Cheers John ‘mate’!
    Your choice for keeper of the sacred post turned out to be every bit as bad as he looked at first sight. A disgusting, lying, smirking pig of a man. A loathsome fellow.
    And if Ashley can flog us to some Vincent Tan meets Venky’s meets Hull Tigers bloke etcetera…. he’ll do it with glee.
    Currently we have a 1 in 3 chance of no sale, the same chance of a good sale and the same of a bad sale. 2 out of those 3 are disasters.
    The chances are equal because we have zero information to go on.

  • Leazes Ender

    5. Lock Ryder in a cupboard.

    He was interviewed by the liverpool fanzine before the game giving them an insider’s view of the ones to watch… we have a scouse spy in our midst.