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Opinion

If ever there was a time when we needed football to rescue Newcastle United

1 week ago
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Is it really only four days since Newcastle United kicked off the season?

It can’t be.

I feel like I have already experienced at least over half of another bruising season where it is all about increasing fear of what might happen, rather than anticipation of what could be to come.

I know that in reality it has only been 90 minutes so far and that defeat to Arsenal but I feel very much fatigued.

We ended last season with the 4-0 at Fulham but by that point we knew that Rafa Benitez was having his pivotal London meeting with Mike Ashley and assorted minions only four days later.

So whilst reviewing and debating that win at Craven Cottage on Monday 13 May, at the same time it was also a countdown to that London meeting and what we were going to hear afterwards.

The reality of course was that we were told absolutely nothing.

As always kept completely in the dark by Mike Ashley, complete silence until Monday 24 June when with no prior warning giving to Rafa Benitez that they were doing it, Ashley got his people to put out a public statement saying the manager was officially gone at the end of that week.

The takeover followed a similar pattern, a newspaper exclusive at the end of the May and then public statements from the Bin Zayed Group detailing what had happened so far.

Newcastle United said nothing, neither confirmed this was true or rubbished it.

At least not until that nonsense PR statement via The Mail at the end of July when along with everything else, Mike Ashley blamed everybody but himself – the fans, Rafa Benitez, the BZG, for anything negative this summer.

The hunt for a Rafa replacement was similarly stressful, no urgency shown whatsoever, it taking weeks to scour the globe before ending up with an underwhelming choice of a fading Championship manager, who wasn’t even given the manager’s job at St James Park. Instead Mike Ashley insisting on head coach, ensuring Steve Bruce would have even less credibility than he had already.

As for the transfer window, simply laughable. The first signing not arriving until late July despite Ashley and Charnley telling us later that it had all been agreed in February, then the other four players arriving in the final week of the transfer window, ensuring none of the quartet could be considered to start against Arsenal.

No wonder I feel battered. The summer usually includes some downtime from the stresses and strains of following Newcastle United and at least some optimism to be had.

Never has a club paid £40m for a player and doubled their transfer record, only to be met mainly by puzzlement and wondering why they have paid that much for somebody who has achieved so little so far, rather than unbridled joy.

So, first away game of the season and even though it is a nightmare to get to, I’m off to Norwich.

I am dreading this season now and I just hope the football and Steve Bruce can prove me wrong, that this team can succeed despite appearing to have next to no goals in it.

With Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley seemingly intent on carrying the politics and attacks on Rafa and the fans into the new season, with more nonsense this week, I am not hopeful.

Even they seem to expect this season to be a disaster and are already trying to set the scene as to it being anybody’s fault but their own.

As always though, no matter how bad everything else is, if the actual football and results are decent then we can still have some escapism.

Here’s hoping.

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