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Opinion

Loving Newcastle United from Nigeria – An abusive relationship

1 month ago
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The year was 2019 and I was buoyed with the Newcastle United takeover rumours.

Bragged to everyone I discuss football with, that Newcastle United were coming for the top six again.

That summer I had been without a smartphone for over a month.

At about that time, I spoke with my Cousin (An Arsenal fan), talking about how we would be the next Man City, and would start off with transfers for outcasts like Coutinho, or perhaps get a young player needing first team football like Tammy Abraham or Nketiah. It was at that point my Cousin had the (absolute) pleasure of letting me know Rafa Benitez had left the club and the takeover was falling apart. I could not believe it.

Eventually, I checked the facts for myself when I could, and it was all there.

The PL blocking us from achieving greatness for reasons best known to them and Rafa picking a CHINESE SUPER LEAGUE team over us (I’ve never known of another manager who left the Premier League for China). Of course, the back-and-forth blame game between manager and club hierarchy was well documented, the media more than happy to cast us as a club in disarray.

Why is this bloody how they are destroying my football club? Which decent manager would decide to join a club that forced Rafa Benitez out, after three years of putting his CV on the line, including staying with them in the Championship? The manner he was painted a villain too after leaving and the way he had always lacked support in decision making?

Personally, I was battered and that was it for me. I made up my mind I was done with Newcastle United until Ashley leaves the club. I watched three games all of last season – Home Vs Man United, Away and Home Vs Chelsea. Aside from that, I would only watch highlights on occasion. I couldn’t tell you how far we went in the cups, couldn’t describe any player’s overall performance over the season. We ended in 13th but it felt like we definitely could have finished higher up the table, had we played any decent football consistently.

This 2020/21 season, has shades of 2015/16 all over it. Back then, a Manager named Steve McClaren was hired from the Championship after finishing 8th with Derby County. He spent £80m on players with no clue on how to motivate them or get them to play together. Our top league goalscorer was a midfielder (Wijnaldum, 11). Couldn’t beat Sunderland at home or away that year. Mike Ashley refused to part with him till matchday 29.

Now, we have a Manager named Steve Bruce who was hired from the Championship after finishing 13th with Sheffield Wednesday. He has spent £100m on players (£65m last season, £35m this season) on a team of decent players but has no idea of how to build chemistry or organise a game plan. Thank God for Callum Wilson this year, because Shelvey was our leading league scorer last season with six goals. I saw some better performances under John Carver than what I’ve seen this month.

As we slowly and certainly drift further down the premier League table, with Big Sam now at West Brom, and Scott Parker doing his best with Fulham, I can’t help but feel we may not survive the drop. Being a team the media loves to hate, it’s too bad we keep playing into their hands.

I look ridiculous telling anyone that I support Newcastle United and deluded if I prove it. I used to wear the jersey with pride but I haven’t bought one since 2013/14 and I can’t see how that’s going to change anytime soon.

Loving this football club is sheer pain.

(Faithman – Newcastle United fan from Nigeria)

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