‘A wall of incompetence, arrogance and deceit’ – Kevin Keegan
The words that sum it all up. The train wreck that is Newcastle United under Mike Ashley, beautifully encapsulated by Kevin Keegan.
That KK has shown the world just what a complete joke of a football club it’s become under this putrid regime, is as pertinent now as it was in 2008. This is because history is pretty much repeating itself, it would seem.
For every gaffe and misdemeanour detailed by Keegan, so we see it all being revisited on Rafa Benítez in 2018. His staying power has been immense in the face of it all. It surely cannot last?
It would be great for Newcastle fans to write something nice and positive about the club, but there isn’t really much there to cheer at the moment, no matter how much we try.
And in the classic farce that has characterised the Ashley era, we are in one of those runs when the public relations disasters just keep on piling up.
Whether it’s former stewards at Stamford Bridge (Tony Jimenez) trying to unpick his own lies and smear a club legend, or the local boxer (Lewis Ritson) who gets barred from using the club crest on some of his merchandise.
The owner vanishing into thin air after a summer of borderline shambolic recruitment and under investment, only to suddenly reappear at Selhurst Park, smirking away as the fans demand change.
The info war being waged in the national media to spin against the manager and the fans.
And how about the claims that some of the facilities at the training ground and St James Park are actually up to scratch, when in reality they’re mired in the 1990s and desperately need modernising.
Ashley has turned a proud football club into a laughing stock. We’re now a very easy target for pundits to poke fun at us and some even have the neck to suggest it’s not even the fault of the owner.
The rank and file staff at the club may be just as frustrated as fans. There is much they’ve done right over the last few years. Their approach to social media is excellent, as is the ongoing success of the NUFC Foundation. I have sympathy for the staff.
But the big ticket issues, the meat and drink that makes a football club, remain so badly managed and neglected that it is often hard to believe that it could be done so badly.
You look at other clubs and how they’re going about things and you’re left scratching your head and wondering why Newcastle can’t just operate in the same way. Not just a clutch of fellow Premier League teams either. There are sides in the championship at the moment who are going about their business well in advance of our lot.
The awful fixture list and run of poor displays and results has only added to the maelstrom. There’s a sense of implosion and where there was once excitement there is now a feeling of huge uncertainty, apathy and hopelessness.
Kevin Keegan was lucky. He got to walk away. The fans are still here – and to borrow another quote from his book – ‘We still have to share our oxygen with these people’.
You can follow the author on Twitter @DavePunton