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A view from a wing clipped Magpie

3 months ago
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After finding out that I had contracted Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), I have slowly started to not be able to walk properly, as well as having other problems such as not being able to brush my own hair, or pick a kettle up some days.

I started to look for things to do and it wasn’t long before I found The Mag website for fellow Newcastle United fans.

After Bazoox laid down a challenge for new contributors and a very enjoyable debate with Barry Paul Henry about anything football, a big thank you for keeping me awake through that dismal England performance yesterday, here’s my first attempt at an article, so here goes.

I am going to start with the Saudi Arabia PIF led Newcastle United takeover.

I became ill at the back end of 2020, beginning of 2021, so the takeover in October that year was the main thing that I had to look forward to. Now I know what we all thought of he who will not be named and his little toady crew, but not in my wildest dreams did I think the transition under the Saudi PIF, the Reuben family, Amanda Staveley and her husband Mehrdad Ghodoussi, would go as smoothly as it did.

Of course, there were teething problems like the press pressuring us to give “superstar” manager his 1000th game as a manager. Unai Emery turning us down at the last minute because not many of us remember that a certain Eddie Howe was actually our second choice to be manager, I think we may have been a little bit lucky with that one. Then the Amnesty International angle as well as the BeIN and beoutQ TV stuff that I’m not qualified enough to talk about.

After that, there was the small matter of being 19th in the league and who would want to come to a relegation threatened team? Well a certain Mr Trippier stepped forward to answer that one, as well as Bruno Guimaraes, then the ones who were laughed at from fans of other clubs saying they were desperation signings but came and did a job for us in Dan Burn, Chris Wood and Matt Targett on loan (later to become a permanent signing).

After that our season turned polar opposite, picking up enough points to finish mid-table, but for everything good there were also things that seemed to throw mud at us. Amnesty international turned out in force about the Saudi laws and punishments, but as I said earlier, I am not qualified so I will not be commenting on these subjects any further.

Then there was the comparison of the Saudi international strip to our away kit. I will say I found this one to be funny, as with all the accusations that were flying about, I thought the club leaned into it quite well.

That brings us to last season and boy did things turn around.

More quality signings in with Sven Botman, club record signing Alexander Isak and England international goalkeeper Nick Pope, as well as Garang Kuol who we sent out on loan, as well as cup final goalkeeper Loris Karius coming in. This led us to have a season we won’t forget in a hurry with the form shown to qualify for the Champions League and a first cup final in over 20 years.

Now compare this to the fourteen years under he who shall not be named and it’s like a real life version of the PC game Football Manager. Players who ‘big’ teams would never have touched, ousting them from their perches at the top of the Premier League, well Champions League places, finishing above the likes of Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea, Brighton and Aston Villa.

Which brings us to this season.

If you were to look at the results we have had in the league, despite a dodgy three game period that ended in three defeats, we are in seventh with 20 points from 12 games. Nothing wrong with that, it’s pretty respectable actually.

In Europe, Newcastle United still have a chance despite a horrendous Champions League draw, again pretty good since it’s the first time we have qualified in years.

Whilst we are still in the League Cup after beating Manchester City and Manchester United, nothing wrong again, we are doing pretty well in all competitions, nothing to complain about here.

Now if you look at the signings for this year, on paper we signed a future Italian captain in Sandro Tonali, we signed Harvey Barnes from Leicester, another good player who for me should be on the fringes of an international call up. Then three young players in Lewis Hall, Tino Livramento and Yankuba Minteh, so that’s our two future full-backs signed up for what could be the next ten years and a possible replacement for Miguel Almiron, who is doing well in Holland.

However, the reality with the two main signings for this season has proved to be a freak injury to Barnes which has ruled him out for a lengthy period and Tonali has been banned under a betting scandal and our injury list at the moment is the worse I have ever seen.

Going into a run of eleven games in just over five and a half weeks doesn’t look too inviting, but if anyone has the attitude and ability to get the team to dust off and go again, it will be Eddie Howe and his team.

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