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Opinion

Newcastle United and the dilemma of ambition

5 months ago
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We are Newcastle United and we have every right to dream! History speaks.

The very thing I hate about Newcastle United was brought into focus over the past few days and that is our stance of accepting mediocrity as fans.

In the early 2000s, this club showed a lot of ambition to become a powerhouse in the English game, only to fall short miserably.

The media now depicts us fans as wannabe overachievers, always demanding more than our due with regards to success at our football club. What I really detest however, is when we as fans accept this abuse and uphold the tag of mediocrity as though it were our birthright. In the words of Hatem Ben Arfa, (sic) “it is forbidden to dream?”

Nonetheless, I have come to realise that the sense of gloom hanging over the club predates Mike Ashley; let me explain.

I only started supporting Newcastle in 2011 so I’ve had to do a bit of research about the club from about 1992/93 Keegan era to the Chris Hughton Championship season. My conclusion is that the club has fluttered one time too many and, in a bid to protect ourselves from further heartbreak, us fans intentionally refuse to raise our expectations. A classic emotionally abusive relationship scenario, really.

I cannot imagine how it must’ve felt back then, having being led straight back up by a board and ex-player (Keegan) into the Premier League as champions, followed up with four years of being in the top six, two of which saw a real challenge for the Premier League title. It must have been truly surreal for the fans of that period.

Unfortunately, that was followed by three years of utter mediocrity, inspired as usual by poor managerial choices, and featuring board level controversy. The feeling of despair, having to watch all that promise fade away, must have been horrific.

But hold on… along came Sir Bobby, with the feel good factor, the humility, experience, loveable character, and the results! Another five years of happiness with good moments in Europe as well, including three straight years of being in the top five. The players themselves and Sir Bobby were noticeably cautious and of low expectations, making comments such as “we never said we’d win it”, “we’ll just keep playing like this and see how it goes”. The disappointment of handing the league to Man Utd was obviously still fresh in the memory. Under Sir Bobby, we really had something good going.

Well guess what happened next?

Sir Bobby got the sack. Perhaps someone could explain why that happened because it made absolutely no sense to me. Apparently, some fans felt the sacking was a good move, angering many neutrals and fans. Some fans (like True Geordie – a YouTuber) do believe that was a major catalyst for the national press turning on the Newcastle fans. This was not helped by the fact that the club went straight into free fall after this decision, ending up relegated, just one owner, nine managers and five years later.

From the low of relegation in 1992, up to the elusive heights of title challenges and European adventures, then back down to relegation in 2009 (17 years), we had completed the first cycle of shame. Coming straight back up as champions, the second cycle began. With the open ended football of Hughton, followed by a 5th placed finish in the very next season, you can forgive us for thinking the glory days were back. We were regaining a height we had been at on multiple occasions, and were overjoyed. The media deemed the desire to return to our former heights to be overambitious, as if we had not earned the respect of the league all those years.

Unfortunately, the second cycle wouldn’t take long. There were seven lean years which featured only one top eight finish and plenty of time spent in the drop zone, while the managerial appointments again saw a decent achieving fan favourite in Hughton get an unjustified sack, to be followed by two incompetent managers. Today we are likely witnessing the third cycle of shame and it’s been the same exact basic principles. Fan favourite manager ousted without justification, questionable replacement, and plenty of flirting with relegation.

While history has taught us to lower our expectations, the power to change our fate somewhat lies in our hands. It’s about time we accept that we were just a few bad decisions away from real dominance in the league and deserved every bit to attain the heights we did in the past 30 years.

The emotion around the city ultimately affects the players, more so the charisma we put out on social media. We can rise again but only if we change our perception. We are the fans, we are the club, and we must dare to dream again!!

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