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Opinion

I want a reason to go back to Newcastle United

3 weeks ago
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These are difficult days.

Newcastle United is a club cast adrift.

After 12 years of floating aimlessly, the remaining passengers were feeling especially sick this summer, as unsteady sailing was ensured after the owner forced his captain to walk the plank and seek the calmer waters of the China seas.

Now in September and a month into the football season, both the passengers still onboard and those who jumped overboard, are wondering what on earth happens next?

This is my first contribution to The Mag (if it makes the cut!) and my story is probably very similar to thousands of you reading this.

After too many years to count, I packed in my season ticket.

I had finally had enough.

I have watched plenty of rubbish football in my time, so that doesn’t really bother me by itself. However, the actions of Mike Ashley this summer proved once and for all that he won’t change.

It isn’t just that he got rid of Rafa Benitez and clearly had no intention of retaining him.

There was just so much else on top of that. The identity of Rafa’s replacement, insistence on reverting to a patsy head coach with no power/influence once again, public statements making clear there will be no investment in the infrastructure, a chaotic transfer windows where the areas that needed it weren’t properly strengthened and gimmick PR signings such as a knackered Andy Carroll, plus of course the petty and clearly vindictive season ticket price rises (again!).

Still though I am now looking for it, like the many thousands who also walked away, I want a reason to go back to Newcastle United.

That was always the case even when I was giving my season ticket up (and over 150 away match loyalty points) and still exits now.

I want to go but need a reason as to why I should.

A positive change.

So what would tempt me back to Newcastle United…

Mike Ashley selling the club – I would be straight on the phone to get my season back, regardless of who was buying NUFC.

Steve Bruce leaving – It wouldn’t make a difference on its own.

Steve Bruce leaving and replaced by a credible replacement – That would definitely tempt me. If somebody was appointed who clearly wasn’t desperate and would only be taking the job if allowed to do it properly and have control of transfers etc, then yes, I would go back. Just as I would have continued going if Rafa had been given this type of backing and freedom.

The team playing winning and entertaining football – I’m only human and after all, this is why we go to the match, in the hope of seeing  skilful attacking football, goals and wins. This current set-up won’t be doing that, a substandard head coach and a below par team lacking goals, never mind zero strength in depth when it comes to goals and creativity. I’d have loved Bruce and the team to prove me wrong but to do that he would have needed the luck Alan Pardew got when inheriting a very decent team with some excellent players from Chris Hughton and then Graham Carr had his moment of glory with the signings  of Ba and Cabaye, then some of the Carroll money at last spent on Papiss Cisse. The team that finished fifth did it themselves, when you had in good form the likes of Cabaye, Tiote, Jonas, Coloccini, Ben Arfa, Ba, Cisse and Krul, then even having the handicap of Pardew couldn’t stop them. So many match winners in Ba, Cisse, HBA and Cabaye, apart from maybe Joelinton who have we now that is anywhere near being a likely match winner? The trouble is that even when occasionally he has stumbled across winning and entertaining football, Ashley ensures it doesn’t last because the players who make that difference quickly realise that it won’t be built on and backed, so they get disillusioned and leave.

Infrastructure spending – Actually, if Mike Ashley did stuff like delivering the state of the art essential new training complex promised in 2013, bought back the land he sold (after buying  it from the club) opposite Gallowgate and extended St James Park to 60,000, as well as properly investing in the Academy – then I would 100% come back to Newcastle United. However, this is the most unlikely scenario of all, as Ashley has zero interest in the long-term health and success of the football club, so why would he allow any investment in the long-term future. In more than 12 years now he has proved this and is only here season to season to see what benefits he can calve out of NUFC.

I bet the FCB got a shock when he saw just how many empty seats there was on Saturday.

It is not down to me or the other thousands missing, to do anything, it is in Mike Ashley’s hands.

I want to go back to Newcastle United but won’t do so until something convinces me that it’s the right thing to do.

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