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Opinion

The key unspoken reason why Newcastle United are failing

4 months ago
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Eddie Howe said it loud and clear, it almost goes without saying…

It’s often the unspoken attitude – ‘the subconscious level’, as the Newcastle United Head Coach put it after the Watford match – that determines how a game ends up. Call it positive visualisation, call it collective self-belief, call it the warrior’s creed, call it whatever you want. If a team expects to win, it often does.

This isn’t to underplay the importance of quality in a squad (something we all agree Newcastle United currently lack) but achieving results in the Premier League is a more complicated brew, than simply sticking a few good players together on a pitch and saying, Go! The more subtle, subconscious level must be tapped into as well.

The subconscious level is something we understand at our club. It’s why Wor Flags weave their wonders each week, it’s why we detested the presence of Sports Direct advertising boards at St James Park for all those years, and it’s why when the takeover finally occurred, our hearts started to beat at a different pace.

Yes, we thought, January could be the beginning of the literal on-pitch transformation, but October had already changed the psychology of not only the club, but the city – and this, we believed, could actually change the performances of the team.

It hasn’t happened so far. We can and should question why, especially given the run of games we’ve been through. Some difficult fixtures, yes, but many have been absolutely winnable. In fact, as I think back through our performances in those matches, many of the best have come in the games I have expected nothing from. Liverpool, Man City, Man United. Perhaps the team was reading my mind and released themselves to those fixtures in the way I did. Why not just go for it? We’re not going to win, so why not?

Correspondingly, the crucial games have been cagey and dominated by an overbearing sense of importance. ‘Why not just go for it’ had an emphatic answer against Norwich, Burnley and Watford. Well, because we might lose, and that would be really dreadful. That’s why we have drawn the second most games in the league.

Eddie’s job is to release the Newcastle United players from such ruinous subconscious anxieties, and that is not an easy job at this point in the season. There is an entrenched attitude, an ingrained sense of tension. He will be hoping that new players continue to disturb this collective mentality – and there is certainly an argument that a player like Kieran Trippier is already beginning to do so, but he cannot be the only one.

The players who have been here for a number of seasons need to reimagine their position at the club. They need to realise that change is afoot and release themselves from the burden of the previous era. They need to understand that it is ok for them to be more positive, that it is desirable to ask ‘why not?’, and that we want them to score a second goal as well as keep a clean sheet.

They are in a battle on the subconscious level and we fans are part of it. Should we feel the urge to start questioning, for example, Eddie’s position, we must find the strength to shut ourselves up for a little bit. We are affecting the whole equation, whether we like it or not. So, depressed as I am as I write this, after another game in which we have taken only one point because of a late equaliser, it is my job to recognise and know that on one day soon, that shot that hit the bar will go in.

Let us keep doing what we are the greatest at, hoping against rational hope. We operate on the subconscious level at Newcastle United. If we become depressed and full of bitter questions, the players on the pitch will sense it and worse performances – imagine that! – will follow.

Chris Wood is a great addition. A week with the squad will help the team understand his needs as a player, how to use his abilities to the full. More additions will follow.

We all knew this season was going to be a desperate one but the takeover has made it a different proposition. There is now the prospect of global embarrassment that hangs over us.

However, we are a club built on miracles, and we know this to our core. It’s true, no team has stayed up having won as few games as we have at this point of any season, but why do anything in the normal manner?

On some weird subconscious level, it was always going to be a miracle that led Newcastle United into the new age, when the ambition of the new owners could truly come to bear.

So let us believe that Newcastle United will survive. After all, why not?

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