What has become of us? I spent part of a long Saturday night deep in conversation with a Mag of many years’ service whose love for our club is as great as any I know. He has a deep and unbreakable connection to Newcastle United just like many of you reading this. His description of the days leading up to the Hull game with all of the online hoopla regards protests etc. as “noise” he is keen to move away from and in his own way return to what he knows best, going to SJP every other week and supporting his team. It’s a simple statement and stripping away all of the febrile chatter around United, this is what all of us want to do. The lad has a point but his isn’t the only one.
I’ve also heard and read people I know and respect as proper Black & Whiters openly hoping Newcastle United lost on Saturday gone as it might mean Pardew’s abysmal stewardship of our team would be ended. Further, I’ve heard some loyal fans hope we get relegated as it would rid us of Ashley and the malign influence he has on just about every aspect of Newcastle United and none moreso than the complete head-fuck it means to be a supporter of this basket-case of a club.
In this last week we have seen a campaign to remove Pardew mobilise with a poster campaign. Whilst not swamping SJP in the game v. Hull the campaign was big enough to be noticed and whether you did or didn’t hold one of the posters aloft, I don’t think it is overstating it to say the overwhelming majority of supporters want Pardew removed. We can argue until the cows come home about who his replacement could be and the Ashley straitjacket he might have to work within but that does not get away from the fact that Pardew has failed and will fail again.
I insist the situation we are in now is simply a stand-off between Ashley and Pardew over compensation. Alan Pardew will not walk away from the crazy 8-year contract Ashley gave him. Ashley, a man who removed the complimentary tickets from staff in the summer, will not want to shell out millions to a man he might regard as having failed.
Elsewhere I saw supporters in Sports Direct football shirts (the ones with Wonga) on them holding aloft Pardew Out banners and screaming for Ashley to get out of our club. If you didn’t laugh at this juxtaposition of rebellion and wearing the ultimate symbol of de-facto corporate supplication to Project Mike you would really have to cry!
Around me Mags were arguing with each other about the situation we find ourselves in and a heady mix of fact, opinion, the meaning of real support and generally people simply not enjoying the experience of being at St James’ Park. We’re still turning up in numbers for games but I don’t know if anyone is enjoying the experience let alone really, truly supporting the club. I know I’m not. I’m sitting there only briefly throwing my head in my hands as another set-piece involving a floating lump to Williamson at the back stick is easily collected or cleared by the opposition. I rarely join in with the chants, refuse to do anything “if you love The Toon” and have the same feeling sitting on my grey placca with the same morbid fascination as I might have watching an autopsy with a few light ales on board.
Many of those who have walked away from attending games slaughter those who still go and accuse us in not so many words of propping up the Ashley regime. Yet none step from cyber-space and leave the slacktivism of social media to get organised on the streets. People have their own tipping points but to witness supporters being criticised for just going to a match involving their favourite team, shows how far through the looking glass we’ve gone on this one.
I spent the early part of Saturday afternoon in a room with some thoughtful people discussing how the political process can reform football and the role of supporters to achieve that with real grassroots first action. It was a great meeting but you know, when my old man took me to one of my first ever games at St James’ Park for Supermac’s magnificent debut against Liverpool, I never imagined 40-odd years later this was how I’d be experiencing my football.
I spent last week absolutely appalled at those behind the Pardew Out campaign having their integrity questioned by people who don’t even know who they are for reasons I find are wholly and completely depressing. It was despicable but sadly untypical.
This is where we are now. This is Newcastle United in 2014. Unhappy!
So, where do we go now? We are still waiting for Ashley to take a deep breath and sack Pardew. We have a relegation fight on our hands and the club needs a new energy, a new set of ideas to keep the club in the PL. It will not get that from Alan Pardew.
On Ashley’s head be it.
It was distressing last week to hear of the disease Jonas Gutierrez is fighting right now in his native Argentina. It was heartening to hear the support for Jonas on Saturday at SJP and I am sure that will continue. There are doubts remaining at just how well Jonas has been supported by United. It seems just so inconceivable United could behave in a way many of us fear and the statement made by Charnley last week failed to deal with the substantial matter of whether Jonas was told to go away and find another club (throwing into question why he was at Norwich?) and the wider question of whether Jonas has been helped with his medical bills. We are not saying anything at all improper, unethical or even undesirable has happened between United and Jonas but Charnley’s statement did not demonstrate that he is getting real support from United.
What we need to now though, is something positive.
By coincidence for the last couple of seasons we have been providing free advertising space for the Check ‘Em Lads campaign for greater awareness of testicular cancer. Indeed in the next issue of true faith we hope to have a piece from a Mag who also happens to be a Testicular cancer survivor and he will tell us about his own treatment and what Jonas is going through right now.
In tribute to Jonas and as a symbol of our support for him, we will be ramping up our support for the Check ‘Em Lads charity and greater testicular cancer awareness more generally. We’ll need your support on this but for the time being, watch this space.
It was deeply concerning that Pardew, allegedly went against medical advice to play Cisse on Saturday. Similarly, at 2-0 down seeing Pardew taking off Riviere and bringing Cisse on just reeked of desperation and fear. Given Pardew has already admitted playing Siem De Jong when he was unfit, ahead of a lengthy (though unrelated) injury lay-off makes you wonder just how desperate things really are at United. You have to start wondering what is going on Ferreya. Signed from Shaktar Dontesk in as a consequence of the serious political and military situation in the Ukraine, the lad has yet to kick a ball in anger for United. I repeat, I don’t believe for one moment this player nor Ayoze Perez were scouted by Graeme Carr but of the two Ferreya is of most concern. Where is he?
This week sees us go to Selhurst Park for our League Cup tie with Crystal Palace. It wasn’t a great draw but really, Newcastle United should not be afraid of visiting SE London but I suspect it will be a low priority as it always for this manager and owner. Were our involvement in the League Cup to end before the end of September however, I think Pardew will find his stock will fall further, if that is possible. This is a game he has to win.
As United has no game this weekend, having been selected for the Monday Night graveyard shift, our mate, Mark Carruthers from the NE non-league football site, For The Love Of Football will be giving us some tips about where to go this weekend for a game. Watch this space.
How did we get here?
Keep On, Keepin’ On …
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