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Opinion

‘Thank you to the Men and Woman that saved Newcastle United’

1 month ago
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We did it, we survived, we broke records… Newcastle United are on the way up.

As we entered October in 2021, it didn’t feel like we could ever be as happy and optimistic as we are now. When the takeover happened, it was a two-day whirlwind. It was almost incomprehensible how it eventually occurred after eighteen months of delays and false dawns.

Now we’re over seven months into the new ownership and it would have to be an infinitesimal minority of Newcastle United fans that aren’t jubilant at the way things have gone since.

Our club has been saved.

It’s hard to imagine how we would have stayed in the division if the takeover hadn’t happened and I just cannot see how we would have bounced back first time, this time around. I think there’s every chance we could have become a regular fixture in the Championship…had nothing changed.

Even with the takeover, we were odds on to go down. Yes, with the backing we’ve now got we may have come straight back up, but you cannot guarantee it. Could we have kept hold of our better players, or would we have needed to completely rebuild? If we hadn’t bounced back at the first attempt how many years would it have put back our owners’ plan? How much would it have put it back even if we had bounced back?

There are so many men and women responsible for this miraculous turnaround. People that worked on the takeover deal, the staff around the club, the players, our exceptional fanbase. So many can consider themselves a bit part character in this wondrous true-life fairytale but I’d like to call out a few who I believe were especially important in not only keeping this club up but saving it from obscurity.

Firstly, the woman.

Amanda Staveley

The first lady of Tyneside. Yes, there are other parties in this consortium, but this deal would have never happened without her perseverance. We won her heart back in 2017 and she worked tirelessly ever since to make her dream a reality.

She is an example to any of us who want something and face innumerable obstacles to attain it. Mike Ashley messed her around at times, publicly called her out on occasions, but she didn’t let that adversity deter her. The Premier League put a brick wall in the way, but she chipped and chipped until that wall was nothing more than rubble, then she and the consortium strolled straight through.

Many would have given up. She had the financial backing to look at so many other clubs if she felt a purchase of Newcastle to be impossible. Like all winners, she disregarded the word ‘impossible’ and replaced it with ‘challenging’. She overcame that challenge and has been a ray of sunshine ever since taking the keys off that other bloke.
If you ever need to accomplish something and everything seems to be going wrong, just think to yourself, ‘what would Wor Mandy do?’

Eddie Howe

What can you say about this man and what he has achieved?

He may not have been everyone’s first choice. I, for one though, was delighted with his appointment and wrote an article at the time stating that he could be our Alex Ferguson. It’s obviously early days for those sorts of comparisons but he’s young enough, talented enough and dedicated enough to create a dynasty. If he can grow with this side, then who’s to say he couldn’t be here twenty years or more and win everything with this club? His achievements at Bournemouth, taking them through every division in record time is astonishing. But what about what he’s done here in just over half a season?

First Premier League Club to escape relegation after no wins in first fourteen games of the season

Let’s not forget that before Howe came in, Bruce had burned through a lot of winnable games. In Howe’s first eight games he had to face Arsenal, Leicester, Liverpool, Man City and Man United. He won the game against Burnley in those first eight but had Covid for his very first game so couldn’t be there at home to Brentford, a match we should have won based on the chances we had. Then against Norwich he was dealt a shocker as Clark was sent off in the first ten minutes. Despite playing with ten men for most of the match we were by far the better team and were unfortunate to come away with only one point.

So, five points earned from a combination of Bruce and Jones in the first eleven games and then a run of bad luck and tough fixtures to leave us halfway through the season with only 11 points. To be on 46 now with a game to spare is sensational.

Best run of home wins since 2004

Yep, with a few shrewd signings and a lot of coaching and mentality building, Eddie Howe turned the team that couldn’t buy a win into one that couldn’t stop winning. He equalled Bobby Robson, one of the greatest managers of my Newcastle supporting life, by getting six home wins on the bounce. Hopefully one day we’ll see him threaten Keegan’s thirteen game streak.

Best home record for 10 years

Again, the fact that we’ve achieved this despite winning only one of our first eleven home games is amazing. We won seven of our last eight to ensure only the fifth placed season saw us have a better home record since Ashley took over.

Longest unbeaten run for 10 years

You have to go back to that freak fifth placed finish to have witnessed a better unbeaten run. We went eleven games unbeaten that season but our nine this time around was extremely impressive too. It started with an outstanding home performance against Man United, with no new signings, that we should have won. Then the disappointing draw at Watford left many of us starting to fear the worst. But what a run after that. From the Villa game onwards, I started believing we could win every game and, for a while, we did. We won three home games and three away from seven in that little run that saw us soar from relegation certainties to mid-table challengers.

Kieran Trippier

All of the signings have played a part. Wood has done his bit. I think he’ll struggle for game time next season, but he certainly worked hard to help us earn the points we did get whilst Wilson was injured.

Burn and Targett have made the left side of our back four more reliable than it’s been for God knows how long. Bruno since easing into the team has been an absolute phenomenon. He is a taste of the quality that we are going to be seeing a lot more of in the next few years. He is the bar that has been set.

But Kieran Trippier. Would any of this happened without Trippier? He was the first through the door. He ignored all the shaming the media tried to chuck at him, accusing him of being the maiden signing and figurehead of a ‘despicable’ regime. He ignored all the negative press and he made it clear he wanted to be back in England and that he had the utmost belief in this project.

His initial performances transformed our team. Our best player in the Watford draw, before scoring the goal that sealed the Everton win and then the only goal in the Villa game. He may have only played four Premier League games before his injury but we got ten points from them. Without him signing would we have recorded the same points tally? Would we have had the same momentum that dragged us to early safety? Would we have attracted someone like Bruno?

His leadership is a joy to behold. Always involved with the squad despite his inability to play. Turning up in the dressing room win photos, putting out cracking banter on his social media and always, always speaking highly of the club, the manager, the fans and the adventure to come.

During the Arsenal game he was an unused sub, but he seemed to be putting as much effort in as the players on the pitch. He was shouting, cajoling, celebrating. If you haven’t seen the True Geordie interview with him, watch it. It honestly made me want to cry. He’s a figurehead alright. He’s an ambassador for this club and the way we want to grow. He would be my first choice for captain next season. I just hope we can get a few years out of him and that he gets the chance to lift a piece of silverware.

So thank you to the three above but also to the many, many, others who have saved this football club and have given us a reason to dream again.

You can follow the author on Twitter @billymerlin

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