Well that’s that then…
Presents have been exchanged, crackers have been pulled and various types of poultry have been served up in a multitude of ways.
What with the festive period coming to an end, it’s time to look towards the new year.
My first thoughts regarding the upcoming turn of the calendar came funnily enough on December 25th.
It’s Christmas day and following the annual intake of several thousand calories, I slipped away to the kitchen to wash up. I tuned into a popular radio station that specialises in 80s music to aid me in my task (after all there’s only so many times you can hear “It’s Christmas!” screamed by a brummy glam-rocker before turning Grinchy).
Upon switching, my ears were met by the high-pitched vocals of crooner Jon Bon Jovi. I hummed along to the song in particular when the chorus spiked with the lyrics…
“Whoa We’re halfway there, Whoa oh Living on a prayer!”
I have heard this belter many times over the years but at that moment standing by the sink something about those words struck me causing my mind to travel straight to football (never a stretch) and in particular the current situation of Newcastle United.
After all we are at the halfway there!
Halfway through a season which sees Newcastle United sitting in 15th with 18 points, couple this with a below average goal difference Rafa’s lads must be feeling the heat a bit.
Hitting the nineteen game mark also means we are now heading towards the impending opening of the other pantomime that is the January transfer window leaving me asking a question similar to the title of the earlier mentioned Bon Jovi track…
Are we living on a prayer?
Now I know that I don’t need to ramble on about the usual depressing combination of wasted optimism and inevitable anger and despair that this period provides the toon army.
Also, none of us need reminding that it’s been a decade since everyone’s favourite sports tat peddling geezer began his running (and I use that term looser than a member of Love Island’s knicker elastic) of our wonderful club. It also doesn’t need mentioning that he rarely pulls that chunky sports direct branded wallet out of his pocket to fund some purchases.
However, if you have a look back at our previous dealings in the opening thirty-one days of each year a very interesting pattern emerges, one that may bring something positive careering at us in through that pesky window.
Over the last ten seasons Newcastle United have seen only three January transfer windows where total deals costing eight figures or over have transpired.
Firstly, Papiss Cisse’s arrival in 2012 for a £10 million price tag was seen as impressive at the time, although most agree said cash was splashed due to Andy Carroll’s bumper sale to Liverpool the previous season. Memorably, that season we finished an impressive fifth before the usual Pardew form kicked in and frustratingly normal service resumed.
The only other two times cheques with lots and lots of zeros on them were handed out during the initial month of the year were in 2012/13 and 2015/16 which I’m sure you will all fondly remember as in the December 2012 saw us deep in the brown stuff and so old Mickey boy started panic buying to stem the flow that had us being dragged to the Premier League trap door.
This led to the French led invasion which cost the club around £22 million and helped us scramble away from the relegation zone and cross the line in 16th place.
Fast forward three years and once again our Magpies were up to their knees in it, this time £38 million was thrown about (a winter record under Ashley) only for the quick fixes proving to not be enough and down we went.
Which brings us to December 2017. A lack of investment back in the summer has left the usual gaping holes in the hull of the ship causing serious concerns that we may be about to sink with real worry that it may be three strikes and out if we suffer a third relegation under the joker’s rule.
Question is, will the pattern of manic purchasing to plug said gaps when in trouble continue? Will Ashley use this supposed takeover as an excuse to once more open the cupboard and say it is bare? Or will we get the usual “getting things over the line” tripe being spewed until it’s too late?
I fear that we all know the answer, but then again maybe a wad of crumpled fifties will miraculously emerge from our owner’s pocket and bring some much-needed experience and talent into the ranks?… however, this thinking may be down to myself still being full of Christmas spirit (Many types of them in fact)!
Going back to the previously mentioned radio station, come May 2018 I hope to be doing the dishes screeching “Ha ha ha ha Staying Alive” along with those Gibb brothers and not duetting with Steve Tyler and the Aerosmith boys shouting the famous line “Going Down…..”!