This is where I fear the next round of Newcastle United hysteria
It’s a revelation is the old internet.
I’m sure anyone who uses Twitter will have been astonished at the reactions of Everton and Southampton fans to our recent cancellations, with accusations of skullduggery between ourselves and that most well known of Newcastle United sympathisers, the Premier League.
The fact that numerous other Premier League clubs have postponed games for this exact same reason, seemingly lost on wailing Saints fans bringing up the fact they keep getting beat 9-0 as some sort of defence, in between salty barbs about our club seemingly being Championship bound.
A couple of points here.
I think it’s embarrassing to get beat 9-0 and I wouldn’t bring it up irrespective of how much of an enormous big huff I was in.
Also, even if we were to visit the Championship, I believe we’d still have better odds on winning any of the major English trophies in the next 2-5 years than Southampton. Or Everton, or most of the clubs we’ll leave in the Premier League.
Finally, I don’t think the year in the Championship will be something we have to worry about.
Before this hysteria from the fans of the Ev and the Oh-9’s, it was NUFC Twitter that was losing its collective bloody stuff.
You see, while we diligently fulfilled fixtures against terrible unbeatable mega teams like Man City and Liverpool, those around us were sneakily and underhandedly arranging cancellations (to surprisingly little noise), meaning games in hand were building up. The doom mongering was in full effect, as actual gaps of a couple of points had the potential of becoming chasms should all these potential victories be cashed in. This situation has been redressed as results elsewhere have been kind during our enforced absence, which leads us to where we are now. We are approaching a situation where, in our next match against Watford, a win should take us out of the relegation zone.
I’m sorry…but does everyone appreciate how outstanding that fact is? We have won one game all season, have eleven points, are basically fielding a team assembled by Steve Bruce under the restrictions imposed by Mike Ashley and still, despite all that, we just have to win a match we will be steady favourites in and we are already on a platform to escape.
I never do the research, but I’m willing to bet there’s plenty of Premier League seasons where 11 points at the halfway mark would see you dead, bagged and buried. To have such an immediate route out, tells you everything you need to know. Basically, despite our appalling start, there are teams around us that are actually as bad, if not worse, than us. Teams that don’t have the buzz we showed against Man Utd, that don’t have the improvement curve we are seeing under Howe, that don’t have a future ballon d’or winner in their number 7 shirt and, crucially, do not have the promise of a regenerative January transfer window that could and should totally transform their season.
The upcoming run of games is vital. A warm-up v Cambridge in the FA Cup followed by PL games against three teams also in the bottom six. Win them all and we should reel a couple of characters into the bother while stepping away ourselves. I believe it would be immensely helpful if we were to get some much needed reinforcements in ahead of Cambridge, giving them a game to settle in before the pressure of an enormous relegation six-pointer. Failing this, a new look side against the Hornets would be the next best thing. However, this is where we need an air of caution.
At time of writing, it seems there is a very decent chance that Kieran Trippier could be on his way from Atletico Madrid. I have to admit I’d hoped this might be the sort of done and dusted deal that only happens to other clubs, where it’s immediately and quickly revealed on New Year’s Day without an agonising and protracted few weeks of rumour-tennis saturated by monsoons of bullsh’t from the strange breed of online weirdo claiming to be an “ITK (in the know)” account. This has not happened and a story has rippled that Chelsea are eyeing up Trippier following an injury to Reece James. If this has any truth to it, there could be confidence that the player has been thoroughly sold by now on the Newcastle move, and will see the folly of potentially getting a handful of games before James returns to fitness. Conversely, he may see the slight risk of ending up in the Championship as not being in his favour for a World Cup year, and be tempted to Stamford Bridge.
This is where I fear the next round of hysteria.
If Trippier decides to make this move, you have to understand the thinking. For the last time ever, we have to bear the cross of being infected by Ashley’s rot. Being nineteenth might well put some people off, despite the best efforts of those in charge. At this point they will move on to the next fella, and keep working at it, until the team is improved. Tripper might very well start the ball rolling by signing tomorrow, or on Friday. If not, we all need to keep calm and let things play out. This is not Lee Charnley trying to filibuster his way through negotiations so he can pretend he tried to sign someone Mike would never spring for, these people mean business.
I have 100% confidence that the team that takes the field against Everton on 8 February 2022 (first scheduled PL game after the transfer window ends) will be quite different from what we currently have, in a very good way. I have equally as high confidence that the side turning up against Watford will also be better, at least to some extent. If we can get these next nine points, the narrative is totally reversed, plus that’s ahead of our next game being perfectly winnable at home to Villa.
I know that some of you will be intent on thinking about the worst case scenario, so let’s look at that. If targets drift by, and results don’t quite do enough, we may find that the Southampton fans’ dream comes true and they can avoid the prospect of a Newcastle super team banging more than eight past them, at least for another season. There will be more crowing from other fans if we go down than you’d see at a special midnight screening of The Crow down Crow Pan Alley in Crowley, hosted by Sheryl Crow and Noel Fielding with free seed and all the crow you can crow. Except with more mackems.
However, what would relegation actually mean?
A year in the Championship, which for all it’s drawbacks, can be a bit of a laugh, with loads of wins, interesting away trips and canny fans who appreciate their rare trip to Newcastle, instead of a sorry handful of whingers protesting relevance. This would be followed by a return that entirely skipped the season of consolidation and went straight after the top six, with the biggest revamp only postponed until next summer instead of this.
Newcastle United have stood at a crossroads on many occasions in my memory. The most obvious is when Kevin Keegan’s team faced a future of a humiliating relegation to division three instead of the promise of a swift turnaround to the top six of the Premier League.
There have been others, with different outcomes, such as the failure to capitalise on the fine work of Bobby Robson by allowing Graeme Souness to dismantle an excellent side with the apparent primary goal of easing the debt at Rangers. There was the 2016 relegation, where Rafa Benitez took on the project and rebuilt a team that could bounce back and survive, whereas his walking away might have seen us sunk. And yes, there was last year, where the sniff of relegation threatened to derail the potential of the massive transformative takeover that loomed in the background.
That takeover is here now. It’s no longer a question of “if”, it’s a question of “when” Newcastle United streaks past the murder of crows cawing and shrieking from behind their keyboard.
There is a magnificent clip doing the rounds of a longstanding Man City fan brilliantly articulating how enjoyable it has been for him, his friends and family who suffered in the lesser years to have lived through the last decade. One FA Cup would have been enough for his dream he said. We now have that to look forward to, even if it isn’t with the instant gratification that the TikTok era expects.
This is going to be great, so don’t get despondent if it doesn’t start tomorrow.
Don’t throw your toys in if Trippier isn’t the first signing, or player x or y chooses club a or b. The loser now will be later to win, cos the times they are a-changin.
Follow Jamie on Twitter @Mr_Dolf
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