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Opinion

As Newcastle United fans, what exactly do we actually want…?

10 months ago
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Well, Tuesday night was an utterly dreadful disappointment for Newcastle United fans wasn’t it?

However, in my heart of hearts, I cannot say it was a surprise.

Even though we came out with what I would say, given the circumstances, was the strongest team, at least on paper, that we could put it.

It does not mean I am not angry; it does not mean I am not frustrated.

And I just don’t see where all this ends.

With every passing match in recent months, I’ve been finding myself increasingly disenchanted with watching Newcastle United play their football. Every passing match we seem to lose more of our chemistry, cohesion and it seems, even our ability to do the basics right. We cannot muster a performance together when there is a first cup semi-final since 2005 at stake.

I don’t know what is exactly wrong and these aren’t exactly normal times…but we are regressing.

Maybe it’s the tactically clueless manager we have coaching the players. Maybe it’s the volatile takeover situation that seemingly had no end, but, the finger of blame always rests at the manager’s door. There are always scapegoats and, in the game of football, the first and chief scapegoat is the manager.

So why does it feel like the Newcastle United fans are always taking the flack?

There’s a phrase that has been festering in my brain for a few weeks since it was uttered by Match of the Day pundit Danny Murphy: “What do Newcastle United fans want?” It seemed as if he couldn’t wait to blurt it out.

It was towards the beginning of our most recent slump. We are mid-table in the league and by hook and by crook (well, by luck if we’re honest) we are picking up points, vital early points that give us a foundation to build on for premier league survival.

So, what do we want? For starters we want a football club that tries to progress and be the best it can possibly be. And that means being more than a club that is happy with mere premier league survival. Contrary to the popular myth that is peddled night and day about our fans, we are not demanding champions league football every year and the kind of success that other clubs are more fortunate to enjoy. All we want is a club that seeks to do more than just settle. It has been this way for too long now and you come to a point where you have to go one of one ways, progress or regress.

I can’t tell you how far this myth goes back. I’ve been taking a lot of stick for many many years about being a Newcastle fan, that I feel like I’ve been almost conditioned to believe that I deserve the ridicule I get for my choice of football club. That we’re stupid. That we’re delusional about the stature of the club and we expect too much. Expect too much in terms of what the club can achieve. That we don’t know our place. That we’re wrong to dream for more.

But why ask for more when you’re in mid table with 18 premier points gained, eight points ahead of the drop zone with a game in hand. I only say this. Watch our games.

You’d see a team that lacks identity. You would see a team with no game plan except soak up pressure and hit teams on the counter-attack. You would see a team of players who are losing confidence in what they are being asked to do. Attacking and pressing teams and / or playing entertaining football is not on the agenda.

What we’re angry about isn’t just winning or not winning games. It’s not about league position. It is not about lack of trophies. Although any fan should aspire for those things. It’s not about one manager being better than his predecessor. What I’m seeing is total regression in performance and team chemistry under this manager and that has to change. This will not happen until he’s gone.

So, as you can imagine, all of this, coupled with the fact that the fans cannot go to the ground to voice their anger at what is going on, it’s a very hard time to be a supporter. We can’t even reasonably expect actions to be taken to make things better.

There’s no sign of any of this changing. The manager will not resign from his job (why would he?). The hierarchy will not let him go from the job (why would they?). There will be no takeover of the club any time soon (if at all).

And if all that is true, what is the antidote? What brings me back into the fold?

This morning I finally got the chance to see the fantastic new fan made production “We are the Geordies” which followers a group of supporters and their hopes and dreams during the 2016/2017. Apart from the fact it got the perfect Hollywood ending, it is the perfect answer to the question, what it means to support Newcastle United, what it means to have hope.

Watching this documentary brought back to me what it is all supposed to mean. I haven’t been to a match in years. I don’t have a season ticket. Watching this film, the fact that no fans right now can go at all, is making me remember how it feels to be there for a match. It makes me remember why I love the club in the first place. It’s the experience. The want to he entertained. The social side of it. The communal side. The pride in your club. Your match day rituals. The knowing that none of it actually matters but at the same time matters so much. And above all, makes me yearn to go back!

We are the Geordies is a superb production, chronicle the journey, ambitions and motivations of football fans. It is not a season review DVD and not an official record, but it what it is supposed to do and it does it perfectly.

If Newcastle United means anything to you, or even supporting a football club means anything to you I would urge you to watch this film and ask yourself again

“What do the fans want? What do the fans expect?”

This film demonstrates that they just want to be entertained and to believe the club is at least trying to better itself in the best way it possibly can.

You can follow the author on Twitter @jonniegrieve

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