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Opinion

As a free Newcastle United season ticket holder am I getting value for money?

6 months ago
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My Newcastle United season ticket went the distance in the summer.

For me it wasn’t a case of simply saying ‘If Rafa goes I go’ when making my decision.

After all, just like players, all manager leave sooner or later.

I did like Rafa Benitez and thought he did a very decent job, he could even have went on to do a brilliant job at St James Park if getting decent backing and freedom to get on with the job as he saw fit.

However, I didn’t/don’t think he is the only one capable of doing that.

We will never know what might have been and so when I look back on my personal history of Newcastle United managers, I have Kevin Keegan top of course, then Sir Bobby, Rafa then inhabiting a level that also includes Arthur Cox and Chris Hughton.

So when Rafa Benitez officially left Newcastle United at the end of June 2019, I awaited with interest to see what could/would happen before deciding if I would renew my season ticket.

The ultimate of course was (still is) Mike Ashley finally moving on but failing that, would there be enough to convince me to still renew despite no change of ownership?

Things that could have persuaded me, in no particular order…

Work starting on the ‘state of the art’ new training complex promised by Mike Ashley in 2013.

Proper investment in The Academy.

Appointment of a respected new manager with a credible track record in management or failing that…

Appointment of an exciting young manager who has shown he has real potential and flair in a brief career so far.

A successful transfer window with credible players chosen by a new manager that looked as though they could fill the clear gaps in quality in the existing NUFC squad.

A halt on the redevelopment of land at Gallowgate and Mike Ashley announcing a new development project with expansion of St James Park at the heart of it.

As we all know now, none of the above happened.

I couldn’t think of one reason why I should renew, apart from the drink with my mates before and after the game, so no season ticket renewal for me. After all, I could still meet my mates for the drink, then watch the matches on TV when they are at the game, a lot of the NUFC matches on BT/Sky with the others still on at certain pubs if you know where to look.

I hadn’t set foot back into St James Park until 28 December 2019.

One of my mates persuaded me to take one of the freebies, one of the 10,000 free season tickets Mike Ashley had to give out to fill the seats people like me had vacated.

Instead of handing him close to £700, here was Mike Ashley giving me over half a season (10 games) for free.

That first freebie match was Newcastle 1 Everton 2 and actually not too bad a game. Very low quality but the poor football and mistakes meant the entertainment was ok.

Everton deserved the win but as I walked away, I knew for sure that if Bruce and Ancelotti had swapped dugouts it would have been a very different story.

Quickly following that was what was simply a total embarrassment.

It ended Newcastle 0 Leicester 3 but if the visitors had been told they had to score 10 to win the league, they could have come close if putting in more than average effort. Steve Bruce very lucky that it was the busy festive period and so the Foxes just coasted to victory, rather than properly punishing NUFC.

Everybody loves a win over Chelsea, no matter how it is achieved…

For 90+ minutes it was dreadful to watch, all out defence and no plan or desire to attack from Bruce. This isn’t a good Chelsea side, just checked and they are now 32 points off the top and concede lots of goals, yet Newcastle/Bruce never tried to test the dodgy visiting defence.

It was a total fluke that this ended Newcastle 1 Chelsea 0, a very welcome fluke of course, but still a fluke. Dubravka and his centre-backs rewarded for their 90+ minutes of endeavour as ASM put a cross in the right area and Hayden got something on it.

Then we have Newcastle 0 Norwich o.

I have to say this is a personal low for me.

I have seen loads of rubbish Newcastle teams and managers but this was shocking.

Absolutely zero intent to try and attack, no plan to score a goal, just sit there and defend and hope a goal comes from somewhere.

At home against the side at the very bottom of the league, Steve Bruce was happy to admit after the game that his game plan, formation and tactics were to make’ Newcastle difficult to beat’ against Norwich.

I don’t just blame Steve Bruce of course but this is what you get when Mike Ashley is the owner and making the decisions.

If anybody thinks Bruce is part of the solution rather than part of the problem, they are seriously deluded.

The club is a wreck and sitting there in my free seat I honestly felt sorry as I looked around at the thousands of fans still giving Ashley money.

An owner still refusing to allow any investment in the future of the club and employing clueless stooges/patsies like Charnley and Bruce to be in ‘charge’ of the rest.

With of course really Mike Ashley and his inner circle of clowns pulling the strings and how we end up with a permanent sicknote and a £40m non-striker/goalscorer brought in to answer the desperate goals need, after Ashley happily forced out the only two goalscorers at the club. This also the model of the running the club which then sees Ashley refuse to allow any striker to be brought in last month, even on loan.

It is total laughable luck as to why/how we are on 31 points.

The football is shocking and the entertainment level almost non-existent.

Yes we might have the odd Hayden/Chelsea moment of joy and will probably crawl to safety, we might even get past West Brom after taking four games and extra-time to get past two League One sides…

However, this is a club going absolutely nowhere and whilst I will stick it out to the end of the season on my free season ticket, partly in respect to my mate who sorted it. That will be the end of it, Mike Ashley isn’t going to see my backside fill a seat next to his adverts beyond this season, even if he pays me (which could be the next step after free season tickets…after all, who would ever have predicted that?).

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