Over the last week or so there has been a lot of talk on The Mag about the finding of positives at Newcastle United , some claim that there aren’t any, whilst others see nothing but roses on the pile of manure.
My feelings on the state of the club and its owner have been stated ad infinitum so it would be pointless to do as many others do and list the litany of crimes committed under the current stewardship, we all know them. Instead I want to talk about where we are, good and bad, and what has changed in the last couple of years.
Where we are is a two-sided coin.
On the one hand we are in deep trouble and whilst our relegation rivals in the mini league which now encompasses two-thirds of the Premier League (such a joke it has become) seem to find the time, money and most importantly, the will to strengthen. Newcastle United once again finds itself lurching from embarrassing shambles to ridiculous situations, which are the defining characteristic of every transfer window in recent history.
Obviously fabricated stories in the press are expected to be regarded as fact, and regurgitated by over-inflated and under-informed pundits, the company line of “we are working very hard” is trotted out, and nothing really happens unless we decide to sell someone, when it is too late to replace them with any quality…..again.
The other side of the coin can be somewhat harder to see amongst the prevailing and understandable negativity though, the other side…the positive if you like… is that the club is perhaps not quite so rotten on every level as it once was.
The real and tangible change in the image of the club is that it has been brought back into the community, and even the most anti-Benitez fan will have to admit that this is down to the manager, once again taking his players out into the city and surrounding area to interact with local projects and charities.
It should not be underestimated the effect that this has on the morale of every supporter who has the chance to meet the manager and his players, they will remember that someone with the stature of Rafa Benitez in world football, took the time to make them feel that Newcastle United cares, something which hasn’t been felt for a long time.
The other change does involve the team. In the past we have all bemoaned overpaid mercenaries giving minimal effort whilst the club staggered towards the trapdoor. This season we may well once again find ourselves falling out of the league, but at least it will be a lack of investment in quality that relegates us, rather than a lack of effort or care. Our current squad is not good enough, but they are mostly good honest pros, who put in a shift and try to make the best of their comparatively limited talents.
What is desperately needed is that injection of quality, two or three players who are match winners, equally capable of winning a game by themselves and bringing the best out those around them.
However, the two sides of the coin are in opposition. We are where we are because we have what we have.
We are where we are because we are held back by a mixture of greed, apathy and ineptitude, but it is wrong to say that the club hasn’t changed in the last couple of years, but it is right to say that history does nothing but repeat itself for Newcastle United.