Like most Newcastle United fans I don’t accept this about these players
To say the usual, I’m also one of the countless lifelong Newcastle United fans, in my case I’m now 51 years old.
I will remind some Newcastle United fans of the many similar lacklustre performances by teams of yesteryear.
As well as the mistakes of board members who have failed to support managers that they’ve appointed, leaving them to bear the brunt of blame.
The madness of removing Arthur Cox after promotion in the 80s, the appointment later of Willie McFaul as a club man and brilliant servant but clearly out of his depth. The selling of Peter Beardsley to Liverpool, Neil McDonald to Everton, Waddle to Spurs to be later joined by Gazza with the so called marque signing of Mirandinha to fill the gap toward relegation.
The 70s saw similar with Macdonald to Arsenal, McDermott and Kennedy to Liverpool, with each generation of fans witnessing a cycle of wasted opportunity.
The 90s era that the press seem to constantly equate to Newcastle United fans supposed current demands for electric football and titles. That 90s era remains a distant memory of shortsighted leadership, with Keegan being allowed to leave and the asset striping of a team that had momentum and which would, I suggest, have won the title and elevated Newcastle to becoming a real elite team.
We floundered until a short ‘pick-up’ by Sir Bobby which almost settled the ship, until a poor start to the season (not that poor, two draws and two defeats in the opening four matches) after finishing fifth in the league. It all ended in disaster and the appointment of mediocracy until we hit the Titanic’s very own iceberg, which was clear floating in-land and being directed by Ashley’s poorly thought out mega casino plan, which inevitably backfired and left the club sinking slowly since.
So here we are after bouncing between divisions, bringing King Kev back, throwing Shearer to the wolves, turning St James Park into the Sports Direct arena, compered by football loudmouth and comedian Joe Kinnear, before eventually bringing in Benitez with what seems to be false promises and a lack of genuine commitment to support a manager who was widely regarded as being ‘world class’.
We know where we are now with the suggested prodigal son Steve Bruce who, it seems, is instructed to play pragmatic point scraping football with an ultimate / only aim of Premier League survival.
My gripe now is my assessment of the team, along with such dire tactics. It seems obvious to all and which clearly means other managers, how Newcastle are going to perform, when seeing the announced team sheet. It’s predictably dour.
But what could we see with a manager/coach with a desire to play expansive football?
Do we have a squad capable of using the pitch size and turning opposing players into defending rather than domination and attack?
My assessment is yes.
We have flair players such as Fraser, ASM, Almiron, with adventurous players such as the Longstaff brothers, Ritchie, Murphy and Shelvey, we have bite in midfield with Longstaff, Hayden and Hendrick and talented footballing defenders such as Schar and Fernandez and a balance of hard tacklers such as Clark and Lascelles.
Our forward line isn’t that bad either. We don’t score goals but that’s down to style of play rather than inadequacies of players (Joelinton an exception). Wilson and Gayle are both goal scorers and with Carroll (firing blanks) a not bad harassment for defences as needed and a young Anderson pushing for a place, it isn’t that bad.
The Sheffield Utd match summed up the current concerns. Flat football with no guile or guts. As poor as we were, how many times did we try and walk the ball into the box instead of shooting and taking a chance of deflection or block. Going forward we looked ok with Wilson spurning the type of chance even Joelinton (and even Andreas Andersson for those who remember him) would have scored and which I hope is the ‘odd’ one and not the norm. It was a game of sombre reality of poor tactics and poor team selection, when the desire needed to be three points and an 11 point gap to the bottom three, not simply the failed plan of let’s try and not get beat.
I don’t accept the suggestion that the players cannot adopt a new style of football called ‘attack’. They are professional footballers and in my day we wanted to play, express ourselves and win.
The conclusion of my soap box rant is that players and manager are equally to blame through lack of wanting to be brave and play football. That we have a team equal to some of past times who could turn in a performance and at least look to try is frustrating.
I appeal to the players to express themselves. To be better than they have decided to become. I want them to look at themselves and ask themselves are they only good enough for a relegation scrap or do they have a belief in themselves of moving forward and being the best version that they can be off themselves.
Some are seasoned international football players who have played with and against world class players and those without an international cap should believe themselves capable of achieving such an honour, aspire to achieve this with a genuine desire to win domestic silverware or ‘die trying’ to coin the phrase.
I want Bruce to stop hiding and show this ‘style of football’ he keeps telling us about.
I want the players to tell Bruce that they are the best in that position and that he doesn’t need to buy better.
I want that energy and desire and self-belief to exude around the team so that as a team we give everyone a ‘game’, win or lose, and that teams stop looking forward to playing Newcastle as a training match of defence v attack week in week out.
The Newcastle United fans want effort and shots not effort and huff and puff.
The Newcastle United fans want strikers as man of the match, not goalkeepers and defenders.
The Newcastle United fans want Bruce to be a Geordie and act like a Geordie, through tough work ethic and the defined spirit of the undefeated.
The Newcastle United fans want to be proud.
If you would like to feature on The Mag, submit your article to [email protected]