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Opinion

‘Why I want Newcastle United relegated’

11 months ago
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Lifelong Newcastle United fan but first time online contributor here, compelled to put something into writing as an outlet after Tuesday’s latest fiasco!

Controversial opinion that I don’t expect will be popular but I’m intrigued to see if others agree…

The headline is this – I’m a lifelong Newcastle United fan who has become used to perennial bottom half of the table scraps. This year, I can honestly say I’m totally ambivalent about staying in the Premier League.

When all is said and done, football is a sport and without becoming too philosophical, sport is about entertainment. As spectators, we pay to watch sport to be entertained.

Newcastle were most recently promoted in 2017, three and a half years ago. As always, the first goal upon promotion is consolidation, we consolidated and became a mid-team through functional, unattractive football. We weren’t always entertaining but the ends justified the means.

Having consolidated, you can rightfully expect to push on: aim for the top eight, play a little more expansively and try and go on a cup run, all reasonable expectations.

I will make a rare concession to Mike Ashley here and say I believe our more recent transfer business has been done with this intention. In the last two years we have signed attacking players of genuine qualityin Miguel Almiron, Allan Saint-Maximim, Callum Wilson and Ryan Fraser. In that sense it has delivered – decent cup runs, although aided by very favourable draws.

However, on Tuesday night, Newcastle travelled to the worst team in the Premier League, played five defenders and three central midfielders and desperately defended a point (and I’m talking prior to the sending off).

Simply put, fans of ANY established Premier League club wouldn’t stand for that – and neither should Newcastle fans. Neither should they stand for a similarly played out submission at Brentford. Pundits are right to point out that Newcastle don’t have the squad or resources to attack the top four or even the top six. They do however have the resources to beat a team who have thus far taken three points from a possible 51.

Some of the fault lies with Steve Bruce. Many comparisons are regularly made to the style of play under Benitez but unfairly in my opinion. As mentioned, Benitez was consolidating in the Premier League with a squad that was infinitely weaker in attacking areas. Is you swapped Joselu, Ritchie, Atsu and Perez for Wilson, St Max, Almiron and Fraser, I think you’d see Benitez play a better game.

Ultimately, the root cause is a boardroom level desire for mediocrity. Bruce was hired to maintain the status quo and deliver a finish of 11th – 15th in the Premier League. The best managers won’t accept that remit and the average ones won’t inspire good players within the club.

Can you imagine Bobby Robson leading a team talk and firing the players up to try and finish 13th in the league? Mediocrity has seeped into the DNA of the club and the fans are told to expect it and accept it on a weekly basis by most of the mainstream media (though there are notable exceptions such as Jake Humphrey of BT) and as long as Newcastle remain in the PL, Ashley is happy.

I have come to terms with this and it’s for that reason I won’t be too disheartened to see Newcastle United relegated. Ashley is a shrewd businessman who knows he needs Newcastle in the PL and will do anything to get them back there if they slip through the trapdoor. Therefore, relegation guarantees we will subsequently attempt to win our way out of the Championship.

By no means am I arrogant enough to think Newcastle are guaranteed to be promoted from the Championship and I also understand the potential financial dangers. It’s a tough tough league, but you can guarantee, Ashley will throw everything at getting out of it.

And what is more entertaining as a fan? Trying to win a league (even if unsuccessful), or trying to stay in one and doing nothing more.

The most enjoyable seasons as a fan since Bobby Robson left, have been the two seasons in the Championship. Ultimately, of course, because we won the league, but firstly because we tried to.

Furthermore, I genuinely believe there are teams in the Championship who could be promoted and offer better entertainment value for the Premier League and British football, beamed into millions and millions of homes every week. Leeds this year, Wolves previously, and I hope the likes of Brentford to come.

The Premier League is lauded as the best league in the world and right now, Newcastle United under Mike Ashley don’t fit that description. For these reasons, I for one wouldn’t be too downhearted if Newcastle were relegated (and I never thought I’d hear myself say that).

I would look forward to watching my team playing with a purpose, whilst watching better teams making a better fist of Premier League football.

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