THRU BLACK & WHITE EYES – At The Edge – 21/Aug/17.

by • August 21, 2017 • TBAWEComments (21)1489

Two games back in the PL and two defeats and no goals. I thought Rafa had us well organised at SJP against a much superior Spurs team and we were containing them well enough with Atsu and Ritchie combining really well down the flanks and Gayle’s willingness to run all afternoon always useful for us. A moment of madness from Shelvey handed the game and points to Tottenham and despite his apology he still misses three games when we desperately need all of the quality we’ve got. It’s not the first time and he needs to grow up quickly. Off we went to Huddersfield on the back of their morale boosting win at Palace and we were beaten 1-0.

We can mutter about the narrow margins in games as well as some genuinely appalling refereeing but the truth is we were wholly unconvincing and lacked any kind of cutting edge in attack. Fundamentally, we played like many of us expected us to play if there was not some astute and well considered purchases of players in the summer. It’s too early to make any kinds of judgements of the players Rafa has been allowed to sign but one thing is for certain, the manager is far from happy at what he has been given to work with and there are well-placed reports of significant tensions behind the scenes at United. Everything changes, nothing changes.

All of the noises are that Rafa believes promises made to him by Mike Ashley have been broken. I would go further and say I believe Benitez has been lied to and Ashley has significant form for this. See enclosed:

https://www.theguardian.com/football/2009/oct/02/kevin-keegan-constructive-dismissal-newcastle

This is just my reading of the situation but I don’t see anything fundamental changing in the last two weeks of another tortuous transfer window. I can’t see Ashley who has made a rare appearance on SKY to tell us all about how a billionaire such as he has no money and won’t be putting any dough into United, will suddenly find money to put into the club and give Rafa what he needs and indeed what he was promised back in May.

Frankly, Rafa and the supporters have been taken for a ride by Ashley, who is a man who simply cannot be trusted. I’ve been fond of repeating that Rafa is the best thing that has happened to our club since SBR was taking us into the Champions League. He is the best chance Newcastle United has for sustainable success over the longer term but that belief is draining away with the dawning realisation that isn’t what Mike Ashley wants for the club.

I want Rafa Benitez at United, building and investing in every area of the club so that we improve year on year and move forward, no matter how difficult it is at the top of the table. But it’s not going to be possible and frankly Rafa owes it to extricate himself from Ashley sooner rather than later for the sake of his own career, self-respect and credibility. The risk for Rafa of course is to lend Ashley some remaining credibility and defence by staying at United and offering a thread of hope that things will change when we all know under Ashley, they never will.

The big question of course is what will happen if Rafa walks. I don’t doubt some desperate dope in the Pardew, McClaren mode will be delighted to get a way back into football and be prepared to take the flak in return for a large salary and a way back into football. It would not surprise me one iota if those approaches were not being made already.

It’s a very personal thing but I really don’t think I could continue to click through the turnstile at SJP to bear witness to a Zombie club going through the motions when the owner is simply interested in its increasing value (on the back of improving TV deals) whilst sucking all of the joy out of the place. I know I’ve more or less paid for my season ticket and I’ll have to write that off but I don’t think I could sit, wasting my time with the stomach churning upset of seeing something I’ve loved being turned into a commodity for the benefit of a man who generates so much contempt in me and many others.

What others do is up to them. I know some will feel like me and chuck it. Others won’t and will keep going because they haven’t reached their own low just yet. Some will feel qualified and justified to insult people like me and reckon I’m not a proper supporter and all of that. Frankly, what those type of people come up with is irrelevant to me. I’m not interested in their opinion. There might be some who want to organise, take action and make attempts to make Ashley’s ownership of United untenable. I was massively up for this after KK was pushed out because that was the point when everything we needed to know about Ashley was presented right in front of us in all of its ugly detail. But for one reason or another it didn’t happen.

Some might step forward and attempt to arrange the support into some clever and well organised action but I doubt they will get meaningful backing from those in the stands. One of the big surprises I’ve had over the last ten years is just how much our support has changed. It is by and large docile and has lost its edge. For large swathes of the support going to home games is a social occasion. It’s one where people meet up with friends for a drink, a meal and the football is just a vehicle to bring all of that together. I’m no different to be honest but the event for me has lost its sheen as so many of my match-going mates have reached their own personal points of no-return and chucked it. They all love Newcastle United and as one explains to me in painful detail, that is why he can’t bear to be inside SJP watching a fake version of his team. Whether any Rafa resignation would generate a new period of supporter activism remains to be seen but I seriously doubt it. I’m not really sure enough people really care to engage with something so admittedly difficult or have the gumption to do something that interrupts their social lives.

I’ve also heard people say things have been worse and we’ve stuck by United. In my time I’ve experienced the real lows of the McGarry and the Smith-Ardiles era. They weren’t fun but this is different and much worse. Under Ashley, the mediocrity of United is being deliberately orchestrated by him for his own personal ends i.e. the increasing value of Newcastle United because of the ever expanding TV deals and the global exposure television gives his businesses. You just couldn’t buy that amount of advertising.

We’ve got Forest this week in the League Cup. On the terms of Mike Ashley, we can’t really afford to compete in that competition when the meagre resources available to Rafa need to be deployed to gild his asset and its increasing value by staying in the PL. Does anyone think we’ll have a go at this competition? I remain to be convinced.

West Ham on Saturday could be one where the balloon goes up because if we lose the alarm bells will start to ring and the mood will change massively. It is an absolutely massive game for both clubs but it would not surprise me in the slightest if Benitez ends up in the dug-out of the Hammers in the not too distant future given Bilic being so unconvincing for so long and the well-reported interest the East Londoners have in Rafa.

*

But back to the transfer window. It’s been reported Rafa needs to get players out of the club who he doesn’t need. We do have too many players who contribute nothing and are highly unlikely to any time soon:

Riviere

Haidara

Saviet

Goode

Krul

Hanley

Gomez

Lazaar

Colback

De Jong

The problem with these players of course is they are on far too much money in relation to their talents. This is the difficulty presented by consistently failing to pay the going rate for good players and pissing what money you do have up the wall paying poor players more than they deserve. No agent is going to advise his client to leave a massive salary for a poor one so we are stuck wit them unless Charnley (don’t laugh) can work some kind of financial magic and arrange deals that allow them to leave.

It really is a huge problem of Ashley’s own making but it is one which is going to threaten another relegation if it isn’t resolved (and it doesn’t like being).

So far, Ashley’s incompetence and venality has cost Newcastle United north of £170m in lost revenue through his two relegations and with Rafa undoubtedly on the brink and a squad woefully short, the prospect of adding to that total is very real.

Other than that, things are great.

Keep On, Keepin’ On …

 

MICHAEL MARTIN – Follow Michael on @tfmichael1892 

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21 Responses to THRU BLACK & WHITE EYES – At The Edge – 21/Aug/17.

  1. mike says:

    I cannot believe the stupidity of Ashley…well I can , he has had us relegated twice.Yep I also expect to see Rafa in the dugout at the London stadium by the end of the season, and not at the away end, jesus, the potential of our club and what could be done with Rafa at the helm, does cashless ashley not get it?, and no it does not require the so-called 200 mill that was bandied about, which he casually spent on a property a few weeks ago.

    • Carol says:

      I agree. I am married to a Huddersfield Town supporter (So Sunday afternoon was a good time in our house!). They haven’t got the fan base we have; their owner made his money selling birthday cards and their manager was an unproven German and they may very well get relegated
      BUT
      The owner, manager and fans are on the same page and, very often against all the odds, they have a belief in themselves which flies in the face of -well – reality.

      They remind me of us. Once.

      I don’t know why Ashley does not see this huge club as an investment he can shift, if he doesn’t want it, by helping it grow. The answer must be, he sees it as a cash cow and a gift that keeps on giving. He is the unacceptable face of capitalism, connivance and humanity.

      Part of me thinks, “Yes, compete in the cup; let’s get the loud vocal support back and the singing and, “We are the Geordies,” The players on the pitch are not the best we have had but they are not the worst but they need the crowd, they need the confidence of the crowd to counter their limitations and the fact that some of them play outside of their normal positions. Let them take a bow to the crowd at the end of the game. Let’s us stop being moaning (sorry to use the phrase) “entitled cunts,” and fly in the face of doubt and disbelief.

      We were the champions in May; let’s start acting like we still are even if it is in the face of Reality.
      What have we got to lose?

  2. Jamie says:

    absolutely spot on Michael, as per usual.

  3. Peter Ward says:

    Good article. Tells it like it is.

  4. I do not think Ashley is stupid. I think this is all part of his design. He does not think like us and he does not judge things like us. He is not a fan or a supporter of Newcastle United He is a fan and supporter of Mike Ashley and Sports Direct. It really is that simple. He manages to fool enough people to repeat the same mistakes and to keep believing and hoping against all the logic staring at them. We have as a club always (nearly always)) under achieved, but we have an owner whose deliberate policy is to repeat this ad infinitum. Contrast this with the chairman of Huddersfield who genuinely cares about his club , the fans and the region. It was (and still is) in our hands to put the pressure on Ashley and tarnish the only thing he cares about-his Sports Direct brand. He wobbled under the pressure last time until he managed to con enough people with the “I will learn from my mistakes ” rubbish. Or “I am selling but cannot find a buyer”. Like the author of the article, I am afraid the harsh truth is our support is not what we once thought it was. Maybe we need all those that have left to come back for one final drive to get rid of this charlatan. The calculation is simple, are there enough people who care enough about our club to fight for it and remove Mike Ashley.

  5. Phil Bell says:

    Nailed it as always, particularly about Ashley’s wilful and deliberate destruction of ambition. It wouldn’t surprise me if he offered some funds for spending if we are knocked out of the cup. This is reaching paranoia levels but I think he wants out of all cups not just to concentrate on the league where he makes more money but because he doesn’t want the fans to feel any sliver of excitement or success that a cup run brings. The loathing is mutual I feel.

    Sadly you’re also right about the docility of our support and how it’s changed. There’s a lack of community and solidarity about NUFC these days.

  6. Milo 79 says:

    I don’t think NUFC fans expect the club to ‘compete with the likes of Man City’ as Ashley said on Sky. That is a complete smokescreen designed to take the focus of our supermarket sweep approach to recruitment and perpetuate the myth of a fanbase with ideas way above our station. What we absolutely do expect is to pay the going rate for a Premier League striker and a number 10. Yes, that would probably set you back £50m, but wouldn’t it be the sensible thing to do if it were to galvanise this side and help us to survive this season with our fingernails intact?

  7. Martin says:

    Add Mitrovic to that list. Rafa doesn’t want him.

  8. Tom says:

    one of the saddest articles I have read about the Toon, sad as it’s very true.

  9. Jackson says:

    The points about our support are applicable to top-flight football in general of course, not just Newcastle. The much-vaunted ‘passion’ of the Premier League is largely bogus and, in terms of adverts and highlights, CGI-enhanced. I noticed Chelsea fans yawning and laughing during their opening-day defeat. As Banksy said – exit via the gift shop.

  10. Alan says:

    I really can’t decide who it is I want to depart this mortal coil the most at the moment.
    Ashley or Trump.
    A dead heat (excuse the pun) would be nice, and I hope it fucking hurts.

  11. tomb says:

    The negativity builds so quickly now as the fans have had a battering sine Ashley rocked up. Contrast this to the good feeling we had after losing the first two games following Keegans promoted side.
    Being back in the top flight should be an enjoyable experience but we need to win a game or two quick to banish the idea that the best we can hope for is narrowly avoiding relegation. Only in the modern PL era could survival be viewed as success.

  12. nick says:

    i’m already a step ahead, I went and renewed my ticket for the impending season however i have gotten wise to Ashley and the way I was feeling I took it out on the Direct debit scheme and after one match I’ve realised whilst that fat man is still in charge of our club i cannot take one more step into the ground. ticket has since been cancelled and it’s cost me £65 for one match but i’d rather that than go to the game like a zombie without any feeling or passion as i once had inside

  13. Brian says:

    Mike,

    Very well written and spot on with all comments.
    It is absolutely disgusting to read in an article that Rafa is not aware of the present transfer situation…….BECAUSE THAT PRICK CHARNLEY HAS NOT TOLD HIM!!!! What utter disrespect to one of the best managers in the world, it is an absolute disgrace.
    As much as I have been a supporter for 60 years, I believe Rafa should walk…..he does not deserve such arrogant, ignorant treatment by such a pathetic pair, and he does not need their vile money.
    I just don’t know where we will end up once again under this sickening regime, which none of us supporters deserve.
    I pray someone will buy our club….

    • Gary says:

      Agree with all the comments other than “none of us supporters deserve”. I marched in the rain before the Liverpool game a few years ago when fellow mags said ‘nowt will change’. I protested before and during the Spurs game a few years back when fellow mags at the rear of the Gallowgate just gawped at us. They say people get the governments they deserve. We may well have the football club we deserve.

  14. Robin says:

    If Ashley and Penfold think the prices are too high now, what are they going to be in January, when we need 5 players and are already 10 point shy of safety?

  15. Anton says:

    I despise Ashley as much as everyone else and the following is in no way any sort of excuse for the ill wind of pestilence he represents.
    But i think we should have a bit of a think around the following.
    Looking at the misfits list above, I can understand Goode, De Jong and Krul – too many injuries and inability to break into the first team. Frankly, accepting a transfer deal where we only pay part of their wages would be a net benefit to the team.

    But why are we so keen to write off players so quickly? How on earth have we decided that they are all really, totally useless? Saivet has won more honours than any of Huddersfield’s midfield. We should be able to do something with his experience. Or is it a problem that he was brought in under a previous regime?
    Hanley and Colback: limited, but why would you not want them in the squad/bench?
    Gomez: I thought he had bags of experience. Can he not be motivated by the coaching team to have a last hurrah? Lazaar and Riviere: never given a proper chance.

    And isn’t the job of the manager to identify ways to address players’ weaknesses over time? Why haven’t we seen a single player improve his game while at NUFC in freaking years (even under the gaze of Saint Rafa)? Why is there a culture of solving problems through shopping, when we know that we are terrible at it?

  16. john rush says:

    Excellent summing up of where we are. I feel more and more out of place as a supporter. Ive mentioned before in these comments about seeing “modern” fans more intetested in discussing where to go for a pizza after a home defeat than the game itself. Last week a couple of our number fidnt like me slagging off engands dele alli and harry kane after the spurs game they preferred to follow the super sky pundits and have a go at one of our own players shelvey. Contrast that to a match v birmingham april 1986. A crowd of just over 20k saw nufc 1.0 up just after half time. A brum player called hopkins had been winding a young gazza up all game. Eventually gazza snapped and t@@ted him one getting sent off in the process. For the rest of the match the 20k aboslutley slaughteted the birmingham players in particular hopkins who had a reputation as a hard case but left the pitch at the end close to tears. We won 4.1 by the way. Today a lot of our lot would lable gazza a liability and agree with some overated ex player pundit that winding the opposition up and fooling the referee was just part and parcel of the modern game. You are spot on the edge has gone from our support many are happy just to be part of the “epl” circus and know our place rather than supporting the team in the manner our support did in the past

  17. Clarky says:

    For some reason i finally get a season ticket since souness. Never expected us to do well but wanted to get back just for the good feeling around the place. So glad i didnt pay the lumper upfront!! Just seen this coming. Good thing is my first direct debit comes out end of August so I get to chuck it after after west ham and not pay a penny! Feels nice sticking one right up the fat man’s ring peace!