Why Eddie Howe is The Boss to revive those Glory Days
As a long-term supporter of Newcastle United, I don’t expect much.
Why would I, having witnessed precisely no top-flight honours in 50-plus years of, literally and metaphorically, cheering on the black-and-whites?
Yes, there have been plenty of memorable moments, both good and bad, but the trophy cabinet remains as bare as Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboard. Incidentally, with Old Mother (Mike) Riley currently general manager of the Professional Game Match Officials Limited, I foresee little change in the near-future.
Here’s my wish-list: a bunch of players who give blood, sweat and tears for the cause; a manager who talks sense, respects the fans and tries to promote attractive football; owners / an owner prepared to invest time and money in building the club.
Deluded? Not me; and neither are nearly all the fellow travellers with whom I share this passion for the Mags.
Occasionally, however, a flight of fancy is allowed.
Which was why I became terribly excited when reading those Eddie Howe pre-match comments that encouraged our reborn team to dominate Brentford and return from west London with all three points at the end of February.
Our intelligent, articulate and personable head coach (compare with his immediate predecessor) apparently asked the players: “Do you want to be the hunters or the hunted?”
We all know those same players often looked hunted and sometimes haunted while Steve Brassica was nominally in charge. The transformation has been nothing short of remarkable since the man from the Buckinghamshire market town of Amersham took over. Where are those lazy pundits who say we don’t like southerners . . . ?
We are now the hunters, not the hunted, a phrase that kept bouncing around between my ears until it finally rang a bell this week: I reckon (and this is where the reader has to suspend disbelief in the interests of artistic licence) Baby-Faced Eddie is a secret Bruce fan. No, not the faux manager who darkened the doors of Newcastle for far too long, not that Bruce. I mean Brooooooooce Springsteen, New Jersey’s finest rock ‘n’ roller.
All right, there is almost nothing to justify this claim, other than the similarity between that speech delivered before we beat the Bees and the seventh line in the fourth stanza of Jungleland, the closing track on side one of Springsteen’s seminal 1974 album, Born To Run.
“The hunters or the hunted?” asks Eddie Howe.
“The hungry and the hunted,” yells The Boss as Jungleland surges relentlessly towards its breathless climax (with apologies to all Mills & Boon aficionados out there).
And “that’s all right now, Mama”, to quote the song that propelled Elvis to stardom in 1954. It was indeed a wonderful year, though not quite as wonderful as 1951, 1952 or 1955, for obvious reasons.
Here’s a bit more evidence to link our boss and The Boss: we all know Jonjo Shelvey has his limitations, though under Eddie Howe he has rediscovered that special ability to deliver a through-ball with Brilliant Disguise, which just happens to be the title of the first single released from Springsteen’s 1987 album Tunnel Of Love. It reached No1 on the Mainstream Rock chart in the United States, the Premier League position we all trust will be achieved once the club’s co-owners are allowed to flex their considerable muscles.
On the theme of co-owners, who could have guessed another track from Born To Run would in future be seen as a veiled tribute to Ms Amanda Louise Staveley? “With her long hair falling / And her eyes that shine like the midnight sun/Oh-o she’s the one, she’s the one.”
Looking back to June 1985, when Springsteen rocked St James’ Park with a show from which funds were donated to the embattled miners, we find his setlist reflected the ups and downs of life in the Toon Army. We’ve all experienced Darkness On The Edge Of Town (1978), while simultaneously hoping one day to see the return of Glory Days (1984) and a prolonged spell in The Promised Land (1978). Every one of us has a Hungry Heart (1980) for success and yearns to be Dancing In The Dark (1984) as we watch our heroes make history in the city I’m proud to call My Hometown (1984).
As for other albums by The Boss, Kieran Trippier has already proved capable of delivering more than one Wrecking Ball (2012) to secure much-needed points, while we can all look forward to The Rising (2002) after Howe & Co busy themselves Working On A Dream (2008). It’s not wrong to have High Hopes (2014) or to wish for a little Magic (2007).
You might say I’ve been Blinded By The Light (1973) and care just a bit too much for The Ties That Bind (1973). But next time we score from Point Blank (1980) range and show we’re Tougher Than The Rest (1987), I’ll take a Leap Of Faith (1992) and know there are Better Days (1992) to come.
Let nobody doubt We Take Care Of Our Own (2012).
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