The win at West Brom lifted us to a very decent eighth at the end of the weekend and there is no question there is a change of mood around United and something approaching positivity. Everybody wants the team to win. That’s the whole idea. It’s time that parts of the press wised up to that.
A peculiar narrative appears to have taken hold amongst some hacks and that is that Newcastle United has turned the corner. That Alan Pardew has proven his detractors wrong and that a baying mob has been repelled and a decent man and talented football manager has been vindicated. This narrative extends to Mike Ashley as well. The owner has resisted the siren calls of a febrile support and kept his nerve, showing an admirable faith in the man he appointed and later rewarded with an eight-year contract. Keith Bishop, the club’s PR consultant appears to be earning his money.
It’s all rubbish of course. Our support did not quickly come to lose patience with Pardew. It was no knee jerk reaction. The team has performed poorly over two seasons. Journalists do well to remember that. Pardew has at times behaved disgracefully on the touch-line and his supine dealings with Ashley has not endeared him to a support that wants to see the club progress, be ambitious and attempt to be the best it possibly can be despite some admittedly formidable odds. We do not accept our alloted place in life is to act as a billboard for Sports Direct.
Therefore, on the back of five very enjoyable wins, four in the PL and one in the League Cup, it would be somewhat premature to start lauding Alan Pardew as the man who has turned it all round. Pardew has bought himself some breathing space. He has provided himself with a platform for a recovery rather than delivered a recovery in itself. In many ways, we have been here before with Pardew. He is capable of producing a run of victories but too often these are followed by a slump which undoes his good work. That may be because the club lacks the squad to maintain the upward swings in performance but equally it might also be because the manager lacks tactical sophistication and cannot change quickly to meet new challenges. The team has developed a new game plan in the last month that is new and which has yet to be analysed by our PL rivals. We will be being scrutinised right now and responses developed in opposing dug-outs. The time to assess what Pardew has done might be in mid-January, rather than after a short burst of great results in October/November. However, if we finish the season in eighth and we have performed well in the Cups, I think that will go down as a satisfactory season. But not before! Pardew, Ashley and the players have a long, long way to go.
I was talking to another Mag whose long-service has bestowed him with a cynicism befitting the trials and tribulations of Newcastle United. His response to our recent run has been to wonder upon Mike Ashley’s view of matters. Firstly, he can keep his compensation in his bank account as he won’t need to bin Pardew just yet. Secondly, in the likes of Ayoze Perez and Mehdi Abeid, he may just have a couple of nice assets he can start sticking prices on very soon. In the short term, he’ll have no bother selling Chieck Tiote in January and won’t have to contemplate buying a replacement. Dummet’s performances at centre-half as well as Steven Taylor’s good form might mean he’ll be able to resist having to lash out on a central defender. Similarly, if the team has wrapped up a good 25 points by the end of the calendar year, he can keep the club’s money in his wallet and won’t have to go buying players as the target of keeping the club in the PL on the lowest outlay possible will look like being achieved. Pardew just has to avoid getting the club into Europe and everything is going perfectly as Ashley sees it.
Remember, just because the team has won a few games doesn’t mean anything has changed with the direction of the club under Mike Ashley.
Although it is brilliant to be winning again, I think the best news we’ve had this season was unquestionably that Jonas has been given the all-clear after receiving cancer treatment and that he may even be resuming his Newcastle United career. That would be marvellous and I’m sure many of you agree with me that it would be be brilliant to see Jonas back to his best and playing for the club. One thing is for certain and that is when he does come back to the club, St James’ Park will absolutely explode when he takes the crowd’s ovation. Brilliant news and we all wish Jonas and his family all of the very, very best.
I can usually ignore whatever bell-ends say about our club or our support but I’ll be honest I took exception with Craig Bellamy talking shite about Newcastle United and what our support thinks and doesn’t think about our club in the national pecking order. According to Bellamy, we (that’s the entire Newcastle United support by the way) regard our club as being as big as Man Utd and Liverpool. Bellamy has news for us – we aren’t. Well, I’ll go to the foot of our stairs, that’s news to me.
Quite apart from how anyone can come to a conclusion about what so many different people think about one thing, the fact that no-one in the studio thought to pull him on how such an assertion as he made is completely risible says a lot about the lack of intelligence there is in football analysis.
I have supported Newcastle United all of my life. I don’t want a medal. Though counselling might be beneficial. Just about all of my best mates are Newcastle United supporters. I have edited this old toffee for the last fifteen years. I have come across hundreds, possibly thousands of Newcastle United supporters. Never ever in all of that time have I ever heard one Newcastle United supporter claim our club is as big as Manchester United or Liverpool. Not one. Similarly, I have never heard one of my fellow supporters claim United is bigger than Arsenal either.
Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal are bigger than Newcastle United. They have won more honours, they have bigger support and they have a global reach on the back of their great cup winning history that we don’t have. Financially, their position is greater than ours for several different reasons but mainly it’s because they have been consistently successful. No-one can argue with that.
I will not accept that Chelsea or Manchester City as bigger clubs than Newcastle United. They have simply benefitted from financial doping that has allowed them to attract the best players and managers in the world and they have won trophies on the back of that. They have not built their clubs over many years of great coaching, great decision-making and determination which are the ingredients that have made Man Utd, Liverpool and Arsenal such great clubs. I would never go to a Lottery winner who lived in the same street as me to ask advice about how to manage my finances and I will not accept Chelsea or Man City as anything other than the recipients of outrageous fortune, clubs who have been able to make short-cuts to success. For all of that it is impossible to compete with them.
Where I see Newcastle United is the equal of Tottenham Hotspur and the rivals of Everton and Aston Villa – traditionally prominent clubs with big histories and potential similar to our own.
Newcastle United does not have a global reach like Man Utd, Liverpool and Arsenal but neither do Spurs, Everton or Villa.
What we are is an exceptionally well-supported club with the potential to grow again. I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that were we to experience a small amount of success – a couple of trophies and consolidated in the top six or seven of the PL, together with a change in attitude at the top of the club, Newcastle United could seriously pull in attendances of around 65,000. That’s adding around 15,000 to our current gate. That is not rolling eyed fantasy.
What we are at the moment is an under-performing regional power-house of a football club with a tradition of being exceptionally poorly led over an extended period. For as long as I can recall in all honesty!
My belief is that were we to get to a place where the support was right behind the club and St James’ Park was able to accommodate those extra supporters etc. that could act as a springboard to challenging those clubs further up the food chain to ourselves – Man Utd, Liverpool and Arsenal.
The on-going teeth grinding frustration of following Newcastle United is the knowledge of our massive potential to grow and to one day challenge for a place alongside those great clubs of Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal. Our history shows us that is where we have been before and we have the potential to go there again.
What that does not mean is that me or any other supporter really believes our club is currently bigger than any of the three big Red clubs or that we can expect to compete financially with Chelsea or Man City. It would be insane to imagine that.
No, Newcastle United supporters believe our club should attempt to compete, to be ambitious, to build the club, to exploit its potential, to try and win the trophies that establish the club’s reputation and history. That’s ambition. Every club should have sensible ambition. Gateshead, our near neighbours, dream of getting back into the Football League. Where would that club be without that aspiration?
So let’s be honest. Craig Bellamy hasn’t a clue what he’s talking about but that will not prevent him from having an unshakeable belief in his own place in football. He was a decent player but I think he would struggle to get into my top 50 players I’ve seen pull on a United jersey in the 40-odd years I’ve been following Newcastle United. I’d guess he wouldn’t make the top 100 at Liverpool but fair play to him he’s probably make the top 20 at Cardiff.
So, Bellamy can sit in a TV studio wearing a bad suit, with his massive new teeth and minty tattoos talking shite, wishing he looked like David Beckham instead of a self-obsessed runt who bottled meeting Alan Shearer in the Anfield Car Park post-match to front up after sending prick texts mocking Newcastle United for losing an FAC SF. That’s Craig Bellamy – a snide to-rag.
Bellamy has a lot to thank Newcastle United for. He was part of a Coventry City team that had just been relegated with him in it (he later slagged them off after he’d left) when there was no queue for his services. Under Sir Bobby Robson he learnt how to finish his chances and improved as a player. He had some good times at United but he’s too thick and classless to remember that.
So then, we have once again been short-listed by the Football Supporters Federation for an award. This is the fourth successive year we have made the cut and naturally, we are delighted to have done so. In recognition of everything we are doing in digital format these days, we are included in the Independent Website category and we would like to think that reflects the work we have done with this here website, the digital fanzine, The Special, the podcasts and the video-blogs. A lot of very good people are involved in what we do and I’m very grateful to them that they have all rallied around our flag.
Obviously, all of that would be pointless if we didn’t have people like you visiting the site, taking out subscriptions to the fanzine, The Special match-day newsletter and listening and watching our podcasts and video-blogs. Thank you.
We are up against some really fierce competition of that there is no doubt. We would like to win obviously but if we are to have any chance at all, we’ll need every single one of you to vote for us.
You can do so by clicking here.
Have a great week, its getting cold and dark but The Toon has won a few matches and the glow from that will keep us warm for a while yet.
Keep On, Keepin’ On …