Where now for Newcastle United?
Much of last week witnessed The Chronicle (or at least one of its main football writers) apparently skipping down the Groat Market every morning determined to be the cheer-leaders for John Carver’s coronation as permanent Head Coach of Newcastle United following Alan Pardew’s escape from St James’ Park at the end of last year. A series of sympathetic headlines and the promotion of Carver’s Geordie credentials has convinced many of a conspiracy between the powers that be at Trinity Mirror (aka The Chronicle/Journal and Sunday Sun) that in repayment for the restoration of full press privileges at the House of Pain and a steady stream of “raring to go” quotes from Steven Taylor et al, the region’s main media outlet for news on the club would be prepared to be more, how should we put it, on-message with Charnley and Co..
Personally, I think that is a wee bit simplistic and ignores some coverage of the club by The Chronicle which has been cutting and straightforward. I’ve a bit of time for the writing of Neil Cameron and Mark Douglas and as I’ve just read Stuart Rayner’s savaging of the surrender and incompetence at Man City, the image of the local paper as a lap-dog of the club, just doesn’t stack up. That won’t win me friends with those who want to attack the local press but despite some jaw-dropping pieces from one of their writers in particular (in terms of how sympathetic he appears to be to the United regime and the notion of Carver as permanent Head Coach) I don’t think it is right to describe the Thomson House press as completely in thrall to Ashley’s minions on Barrack Road.
That is not to say I’m after an invite to the Thomson House Christmas party. Like several others I’ve criticised and will continue to question the depth and breadth of their coverage of Newcastle United and football in general. But with a number of contacts in the fanzine world across the country that seems to be a common theme amongst the regional press and as I’m wont to point out, the scandal at Rangers FC was never exposed by the considerable Scottish football media, it was by fans with a level of expertise working in spare rooms across Glasgow and beyond.
However, only on Tyneside does the vitriol and bitterness between fans and those covering the club spill over into some venomous attacks upon the local media. There will always be a healthy suspicion of what the local press is up to really (which can veer towards the paranoid) but as fans we should realise that few journalists go into work every day and decide to write what they want. They have editors and those editors have proprietors and so on .. for a grotesque example of the consequences of a compromised press, see The Telegraph and its HSBC coverage. With SKY all powerful, the local press matters less than it ever has done and maximise that further with United and an owner who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. This is the man who wants to charge the press for access for interviews with Mike Williamson.
Not that it is just the local press and its readership that is under strain. It may only have been a couple of our readers leaving comments under Jack McLane’s match report from Man City but evidently the strain between supporters extends to this fanzine and certain people who frequent this website etc. Allow me to offer a defence of Jack’s match report. Jack is a loyal Newcastle United supporter. He pays for his tickets and he rarely misses a United game home and away. Like all of our writers he contributes to true faith completely voluntarily. He gets no instructions from me (nor would he likely accept any) as editor, so what you get (occasionally topped and tailed by yours truly) is a match report completely from the heart of a loyal, match-going supporter(s). If you are after a set of match statistics, news on formations, tactics etc. then you have come to the wrong place – plenty do that, we don’t. Jack’s match reports, like many of others are written with the intensity, enthusiasm and experience of a fan. That’s our thing.
Now here’s a thing. Jack couldn’t stomach watching Carver’s team cave in and did the off on Saturday. He wasn’t alone. On entering The Etihad on Saturday night, I jokingly commented to my match-going comrade that I was fucking it off at 2-0. As it happens I stuck around until HT and for the first time ever in my 40-odd years following this club, I breathed out and left the stadium. I can tell you when I boarded the tram back into Manchester city centre, I wasn’t alone. There was a good couple of dozen who had done the same thing. In the bus-park outside the away end, there were random groups of Mags variously having a smoke, having chucked it. I’m not particularly proud of having left the game early or ashamed either. Like Jack, I thought fuck this, I’m not letting this lot ruin another Saturday as they have countless others. Maybe I’m a lightweight, maybe Jack is too. Or maybe some of us are very close to a tipping point.
I couldn’t agree more with Jack’s point about the MH17 tribute. Why a certain minority of our away support has taken to booing opposing supporters during the minute’s applause for John and Liam escapes me. If anything is disrespectful it is attempting to score points off the fans of Man City or whoever else for their failure to join something they likely know nothing about. I’ve loved the minute’s applause this season to two of our supporters who were tragically killed following our club but this twist in the tail at away games is appalling. This is our thing. It doesn’t matter if anyone else joins in. It doesn’t matter but what does matter is the disrespect of attempting to use it as a stick to beat opposing fans with in some kind of mock-outrage. Jack is spot on about that. Absolutely and completely on the money!
I watched the first half at the Etihad and caught the er, highlights the following morning on Match of the Day. We were pathetic – that is the correct word used to describe everything about that display – a description deployed by none less than Alan Shearer.
Carver has suggested his players didn’t chuck it but he is kidding no-one with that rank bad patter.
When Vurnon Anita, an abysmal player, failed to control a simple ball out of defence and barely any pressure, compound the error by giving away a soft penalty, you might expect to have seen words exchanged across the United back-line. There was none. There was no leadership, no rallying call and no air of defiance. And nothing following the second goal or the third goal either. There are players who not only lack the quality to take United any further but they also lack the heart as well.
It’s obviously just my opinion but I think we have a pair of decent full backs but what is between them is a rapidly fading force in Colo and one of the worst central defenders in the PL in Mike Williamson. In front of them, we have the “neat and tidy” Vurnon Anita who just isn’t good enough and like one or two more I can name questions the credentials of our supposed super scout, Graeme Carr. He basically does a less convincing job than Jack Colback, who let’s be honest is a mediocre player. Then there is Moussa Sissoko – the man who would be king, the man whose heart is at Arsenal. That statement surprises me. I didn’t know he had a heart. Once again, missing in action on Saturday. Five minute cameos here and there. Not a leader and not a game-changer. Fair play to Ayoze Perez, a player who has demonstrated courage and talent. Like Janmaat he deserves better than those he has around him and talking shite to him from the dug-out.
That isn’t a team, Newcastle United isn’t anything really other than a revenue stream. It is something that will have a lot fewer season ticket holders next season than this.
Vile on Saturday. Those that were at Vile Park on 24/May/09, know we owe them. A nice big push towards the PL exit door is required. Mr Carver, don’t let us down.
Keep On, Keepin’ On …
You can subscribe to true faith – one of the biggest club fanzines in the world. With over 100-pages of digital fanzine delivered to your in-box every month for an annual cost of only £17.99, we give detailed and original coverage of Newcastle United, football in general, from NE non-league to Brazil, Spain, Italy, Germany .. you name it. Or you could sign up for a mere £.5.99 each quarter on a recurring basis if that suits you better. The small profit we make from the charge on the digital fanzine pays for everything here and will help us invest in more and improved coverage going forward. Just click here to get your subscription.