It is all about creating memories, or at least it should be…
You can’t help but daydream, you know, what Newcastle United could potentially be like.
The old story of what could be possible with new ambitious owners, committed to a long-term project on and off the pitch, backing the right manager, with a massive committed fanbase supporting them all the way.
Creating memories, that is what it is all about.
It doesn’t have to be memories of winning trophies, which is just as well for most of us.
It can be great teams, great players, great matches, or even just great moments.
Have a go at listing all the ‘great’ things you would put in a memory capsule of Mike Ashley’s 13 seasons…so far.
Not too sure you could call them great but the closest we have to it in the Ashley era, all pretty much starts and ends with that 2011/12 season. It was a very good season, with a very good team, with a large handful of very good players, with to be fair a lot of great moments.
Confusingly maybe, there weren’t many great matches that season. Newcastle played to a decent level a lot of the time but that fifth place finish was absolutely down to having players who could score excellent goals and for who it really came together that season. Every goal pretty much from Cisse, Ba, Cabaye and Ben Arfa was a quality goal. Cisse maybe epitomised it more than anybody else, 13 goals in 14 appearances in his first half season and he was just lashing the ball into the back of the net from all angles.
If you think really hard, apart from what happened in that one season of 2011/12, what comes to mind if anything? Newcastle have had the odd good player, a limited number of moments and of course the odd match, such as the 4-4 Tiote game v Arsenal and the 5-1 Halloween against the mackems but they aren’t stacking up. Actually, the derbies kind of reflect the decline under Mike Ashley, even though Sunderland have been useless in pretty much all of the seasons Ashley has been at NUFC, the ‘great’ memories of those matches are pitiful. In the 16 derbies before Mike Ashley took over, Newcastle won nine and drew five, losing only two. Under Mike Ashley the 16 derbies have just three wins, six draws and seven Sunderland victories.
A double from Michael Owen, Ryan ‘over the wall’ Taylor and the Halloween special, that is it.
Remembering the great times under Mike Ashley is like looking into a black hole. There have been 25 domestic cup ‘runs’ so far and what excites you from those 13 years? Even when Newcastle were really rubbish in the past, you had some cup excitement, games that stood out. Beating a weakened Man City side in the League Cup is maybe it but even then Alan Pardew put out a team that was clearly trying to get NUFC knocked out but somehow fluked it.
Either way, it wasn’t Bobby Lee scoring against Chelsea at Wembley was it? Or Shearer against Tottenham or Sheffield United at Old Trafford.
The single European adventure under Mike Ashley was good for what it was but via Alan Pardew, Mike Ashley made clear he thought being in the Europa League wasn’t a good thing.
Ironically, two of the most exciting moments under this owner were Rafa Benitez agreeing to become manager and Kevin Keegan agreeing to do it for a second time. Yet with each of them it quickly became apparent that they weren’t Mike Ashley’s kind of people, simply trying to use them before undermining and forcing them out or St James Park.
We know now that we can’t have the brilliant days of Keegan and Sir Bobby as managers back again.
We know that having Alan Shearer for 10 years once again, isn’t going to happen.
However, to simply refuse to even try and create new memories is unforgivable.
Mike Ashley must be pretty unique in terms of owning a big football club and getting zero buzz from the actual sport. We all understand that most club owners are looking to make themselves richer in all kinds of ways BUT they pretty much all buy into that extra something of their team doing the business on the pitch.
Newcastle United are truly unique…but for all the wrong reasons at this moment in time.
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