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Opinion

Out with the old and in with the new

2 months ago
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“Times Long Past” or “Days Gone By” seem very apt for where I stand as we head into 2024 with life and especially Newcastle United.

If for some reason you’re not familiar with the translation, it’s coming at the end of the article and hopefully it will mean something to you too.

I’ve stated on The Mag a few times that I hate Christmas (can’t stand it) but I feel great once New Year rolls round. Out with the old and in with the new, a fresh start and look at things. Certainly one way of getting over our festive period Newcastle United blues on the pitch over the last couple of weeks.

Well, 2023 pushed us further away from the monotonous deliberate failure that was our previous regime and its roll call of has-been managers and no-mark players to the extent that everything was a joy in the calendar year.

A Cup Final, Champions League qualification and all that both brought, including some really great football to watch, 2023 was certainly a change of pace from previous Newcastle United incarnations for a decade or more.

Bar our recent blip, Newcastle United head into the new year in good fettle.

An ownership that want to push us on, leave the past behind and have the resources and wherewithal to see it through. Will mistakes be made? Sure. Will there be a bump in the road? Absolutely. However, no success story was complete without either. Life isn’t a fantasy. There are no pause buttons or reset switches when things go wrong.

As I sit with a glass of whisky as the clock strikes 12, I’m reminded of horror shows of our football past. I go back to about 1994 by the way. The 1995/96 title collapse, 1999/00 FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea and 2005 UEFA Cup debacle against Sporting Lisbon stand out for me. You’ll have others but disappointment was always not far from a Newcastle United fan’s vocabulary.

The recent run of Newcastle United form not withstanding, I feel we can be positive.

Signings have been good and progress has been swift. So swift in fact that we are “disappointed” with where we are this season. Knocked out of the Champions League, losing a quarter final of the League Cup and 9th place in the league with everything to play for after coming out of a massive and unprecedented injury crisis. I’ll drink to that.

We can’t just go out and sign players for £80m each and hand them bank busting £200k a week deals over five years. This isn’t Football Manager and ultra rich owners don’t guarantee you a winning team. Like I said, there are no reset switches. No magic wands.

Going into 2024 is a far more interesting prospect that that of just three years ago. Mike Ashley, Steve Bruce and Pandemic. The future couldn’t be more progressive than those “Days gone By”.

So all that remains is to repeat my recent calls for the backing of manager Eddie Howe, through the good and the bad. He will get it right.

Will success follow? That’s in the lap of the gods. This backing and thanks also extends to his players and staff who have performed minor miracles in keeping up momentum through a challenging late 2023.

A fond farewell to the year also goes to Wor Flags and their continued great work in transforming St James’ Park from a depressing hole resembling a graveyard of a football ground to the vibrant stained glass window we see now.

The answer from the start was obviously “Auld Lang Syne”. Should old acquaintance be forgot? In many ways with Newcastle United, absolutely. It’s what the future holds that interests me.

(And a final word to you lot who regularly frequent the comments section. I don’t care who you are, whether diehard Toon fan, casual observer, deliberate pot stirrer, pesky mackem or rival infiltrator. Friend or foe. I wish all a Happy New Year and hopefully we can have more contributions, conversations and yes, even arguments, over how we all see 2024 and beyond panning out.)

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