Loving Football…Hating Newcastle United
This is so great and yet so painful.
Have you ever seen two such games within 24 hours of each other, two games of such importance and so dramatic?
I hold my hands up, I’m one of those who never wants ANY English club to win any game in Europe.
Why would I want clubs we dream of catching up with again one day, getting ever richer and more powerful?
However, that doesn’t diminish these unbelievable nights of football featuring both Liverpool and Tottenham.
As a neutral (who wants all English clubs to lose…), it was gripping stuff, fact very definitely stranger and more exciting than any fiction.
Liverpool coming back from a 3-0 away leg defeat to then win 4-0 at Anfield, I could even almost forgive the ridiculous pro-Liverpool/anti-common sense coverage from the likes of Steve McManaman on BT Sport.
Similarly, Tottenham finding themselves needing three goals in the second half away from home against an ajax side playing some dazzling football, they somehow do it. Riding their luck at times but fortune favouring the brave as they did it, a Lucas Moura hat-trick winning the tie, the third goal coming with the last meaningful kick of the ball in the fifth minute of injury time.
Tottenham v Liverpool, an all English Champions League final.
Thursday night sees both Chelsea and Arsenal overwhelming favourites to go through, an all English Europa League final very much on the cards as well.
Then you have England.
I have been one of the biggest critics/sceptics of the national side down the years, as the media try to make out that they are something that they are not…BUT even I have to admit that they are really good now. Not only are these players very good, some outstanding, they are playing excellent football and we even have exciting individuals who carry the ball and beat their man. This England team are the best since the 1990 World Cup and 1996 Euro teams, they could and should win something in these coming years.
Then we have Newcastle United.
I love Newcastle United but I hate them at the minute.
In fact, I have hated them for pretty much all of this past decade and more, thanks to Mike Ashley.
I still go to games and love matchdays, home and away – the laughs, the drinks, the fanbase is still brilliant.
However, all hope has left the club and any expectation has well and truly been sucked out of NUFC by the FCB.
It isn’t that I think we have some divine right to be in that Champions League final instead of Liverpool or Tottenham, or indeed the Europa semis instead of Chelsea and Arsenal.
I do though, think we as Newcastle fans have every right to expect our club to try its best to be reaching those heights.
Only four years before Mike Ashley took over, I was there on those famous brilliant nights when Newcastle beat Juventus at home, won in Rotterdam on that unbelievable night, then the 2-2 Inter Milan away trip was awesome.
Only two years before Mike Ashley too over. I was there to see us lose in the FA Cup semi in Cardiff, as well as the UEFA Cup quarter-final defeat away to Porto, when Souness and the players threw away a comfortable win in the final 20 minutes.
Only two months before Mike Ashley took over, I was there in Holland as Newcastle threw away a 4-2 home leg advantage, losing away 2-0 to AZ Alkmaar and going out on away goals. We threw away the chance of a quarter final UEFA Cup place but still had some great European trips and won 10 matches that season.
Yes, I know some of you will say that we have played in Europe one season under Mike Ashley, one in twelve years after all that went before…
However, Ashley’s mouthpiece, Alan Pardew, then declared when the next season kicked off: ‘Thank God we’re not in Europe again.’
That sums the club up under Mike Ashley, surviving in the Premier League whilst spending as little money as possible. Any cup competition is simply a hindrance, not a chance to dream.
You see all of these clubs trying to be the best they can.
Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham of course, but then also the likes of Wolves (finishing seventh in PL), Watford (10th and in FA Cup final), Bournemouth, Brighton, whoever, all trying to compete. Not all of them can succeed but they are all trying.
Once again I come back to Newcastle United.
It would be funny if it wasn’t so serious.
An owner who isn’t even bothered if NUFC lose their best player this summer.
An owner who hasn’t made any effort to keep a top class manager who fell into his lap over three years ago, when Rafa Benitez approached Newcastle, shortly after leaving Real Madrid. Rafa could have waited and had the pick of any number of jobs in summer 2016 but even despite the total mess the club was in, he could still see the potential of Newcastle United.
When you add in the drama of the Premier League title race these recent days, where NUFC played a supporting role, those Liverpool and Man City games were also high drama at its best.
I am loving football in the here and now but hating Newcastle United.
That will sadly never change until we see the back of Mike Ashley.
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