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Opinion

‘I really think I am done with Newcastle United – not for good, but definitely for now’

1 year ago
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I am probably going to get hammered for this one, but to tell you the truth, I have gone past the point of caring.

It is now 33 years I have been supporting Newcastle United. 33 years.

I have spent money, given time, watched from the stands and watched from afar.

I have watched them from the Gallowgate and I have watched them from a Patrol Base in Helmand Province on a TV no bigger than a postage stamp.

What I saw yesterday has to be up there with one of the worst displays in living memory.

Forget the scoreline, forget the sending off, forget the amazing travelling support, forget Bruce’s honesty in the post-match interview, forget Lascelles’ frank admittance that the players didn’t do enough, forget all of that. The ONLY thing that anyone should remember about that game, is how much it proved that the majority of players at this club just do not care one iota. They couldn’t give a monkey’s.

There you have 11 players, some of which earn more in a year than most of us will earn in half a lifetime, young men that find themselves in arguably one of the most privileged positions in the world – earning crazy amounts of money, adored by millions, cared for like kings, all because they were lucky enough to be born with an ability to kick a ball around better than the rest of us.

Over the course of 90 minutes we surrendered 69% possession, had not a single shot on target, not a single corner, and were made to look like amateurs by a very average Leicester. This wasn’t the Leicester of Mahrez, Kante, Morgan, Drinkwater and Albrighton, this was Jonny Evans, Chilwell, Ndidi, Barnes and would you bloody believe it, Perez.

I am not naïve enough to think that Leicester are a bad team, they aren’t, but they aren’t exactly title contenders, irrespective of whether or not Graeme Souness says they stand a chance on Sky Sports. What Leicester have in their favour is a Manager/Coach in Brendan Rogers who knows what he is doing. I will come back to the issue of coaching shortly.

Not all of our players showed lack of enthusiasm – Miggy ran himself silly again, but unfortunately with no end product (probably compounded by nobody showing for him as he ran up a blind alley), Joelinton tried to hold the ball up and bring people into the game, but was so isolated he could do nothing, and Schar, despite a few clear errors in judgement, at least put his body on the line. Big Andy came on and showed that he still has the hunger, and proved it by tracking back constantly, and in the end probably spent more time in his own box than anywhere else on the field, but apart from that, the rest were an absolute disgrace, and had waved the white flag as soon as the half-time whistle went. We weren’t going to win the game after Hayden got sent off, but if they had remained focused, we may have been able to sneak a draw, maybe.

I find myself this morning wondering why they don’t care and I can only come to a single conclusion no matter how I analyse it. They don’t know what they are doing. They have no guidance, no plan, no system or tactic to work to. Basically, their coach is failing them. This doesn’t exonerate them from all blame. I dare say that you could of pulled 11 kids from the away stand yesterday, threw a black and white shirt on them and they would have put up more of a fight than our superstars did.

I am not into the habit of slating managers or coaches, in particular at Newcastle. It isn’t Bruce’s fault that he was offered the job, it isn’t his fault that he isn’t good enough for the premiership. Everyone has their limitations and 99% of the time people’s limitations aren’t exposed on global TV, making it less of a cultural issue. The culture of football ensures that EVERYONE finds out people’s limitations, and very quickly. Bruce has already been found wanting and there isn’t a second option for him or us. There is no plan B that we can revert to to pick up some points because it just does not exist.

Bruce being at the club, and the position we find ourselves in now, is Mike Ashley’s doing. He let Rafa go (whether or not Rafa was going anyway for the Chinese money is open for debate, but we most certainly could have replaced him with better), he forced players on the club that clearly are not good enough, and has once again starved the club of the investment it needs to be able to maintain its premiership status.

We are in for one hell of a long season. There aren’t going to be many good days. We will have the odd one or two, the odd Spurs miracle shall we say, but as it stands we are relegation fodder, with Championship football just around the corner.

Now to get hammered.

Do I care anymore? As I watched us leak 3 goals in a 10-minute, panic station frenzy, I realised, to my surprise, that I wasn’t actually that bothered. I realised that at that moment in time, as we had gone 4-0 down, that the washing needed to be brought in, and that the Indians me and the wife were treating ourselves to still needed to be ordered.

Had I sent that email to the CEO yet? Were the school uniforms ready? My son has Chicken Pox at the minute and I found myself questioning whether or not we had enough Calamine lotion in the cupboard, rather than lambasting Bruce and his awful decisions, pre and during the game.

If we were getting beat 4-0 a year ago, I would have been furious, 2 years ago I would have been spitting – go further back and it would ruin my entire week, and the wife would avoid me like the plague for at least 2/3 days. When she walked into the front room yesterday, having just gone 4-0 down, she found me sitting on the couch, sending the email to the CEO, the Chase on the telly, Indian menu on my lap in a rather fine mood. I just didn’t care.

I don’t think I will care until such time as Mike Ashley has left the club, because at least when he does go, I might be able to draw on some hope that the club I love might be able to grow again, improve and challenge for trophies. As long as he is here, I know that we are at best treading water, slowly getting weaker and weaker, until the inevitable happens and the relegation party darkens our door once more as we sink further into obscurity.

We get one shot at this life, 70/80 odd years if we are lucky, and I am halfway through them already. I’m not sure I want to waste any more of the little time I have, watching 11 blokes run around a pitch, with little to no expectation of an enjoyable 90 minutes.

I really think I am done with Newcastle United – not for good, but definitely for now!

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