Thru Black and White Eyes

THRU BLACK & WHITE EYES – Time To Go – 14/Feb/2016

by • February 14, 2016 • TBAWEComments (17)4418

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We are back in the bottom three and the PL table makes for grim reading. Successive defeats at Everton and Chelsea have brought all of the criticism of the team from earlier in the season back into sharp focus. When a clearly angry and exasperated Alan Shearer is telling a national audience on Match of the Day that the team has a lack of character and key members of the first team aren’t putting the effort in, then things are getting very serious with twelve games to go.

As I type this, the Newcastle United party will be preparing for an extended winter break in La Manga, Spain. It has been described as warm weather training but McClaren says it might rain. We are told there will be two training sessions per day as if that is meant to make us feel better. McClaren has told us the only way he could get a friendly fixture was to go to Spain for a couple of weeks.

Is anyone buying any of this guff?

The simple fact is Steve McClaren is woefully out of his depth and should have been dismissed before Christmas. However,McClarenChelsea the futures of Charnley, Carr and McClaren are so entwined that I would guess that by sacking McClaren, Charnley is also presenting Mike Ashley with his own letter of resignation. McClaren is the man Charnley pursued relentlessly last year, who despite being rebuffed on three occasions, kept the United job open for six months for him while the club flirted with relegation under the stewardship of John Carver. Only when McClaren was sacked by Derby County for a post-Christmas collapse did the former England manager accept the United job. Charnley got his man. Steve McClaren is Lee Charnley’s big white hope.

Although McClaren has had the thick end of a decade of failure on his CV I don’t blame him exclusively for the abyss United is now staring into. That has to be shared amongst the other architects of this unfolding disaster. Ashley has starved the club of investment for years but last summer released the purse strings and directed Charnley to pursue their targets. Some players were bought at great cost but massive gaps in the squad remain. We still don’t have a goal-scorer even though it is now three years since Demba Ba left for Chelsea. We are now pinning our hopes on 28-year old (cough) Seydou Doumbia who has arrived at United after bombing at AS Roma. He should be given a chance but his lack of match fitness and our fixture schedule means he won’t start a game until at least March at the earliest. He looks like a consolation prize.

United hasn’t had a proper left-back since Jose Enrique moved to a comfortable seat in the dugout on the bench at Liverpool four years ago. Charnley’s late January window bids for several left-backs (including ironically Enrique who I’m told by contacts on Merseyside is woefully out of condition and lacks any enthusiasm to play football) appeared like an after-thought. He failed and as a result, McClaren is now forced to play Rolando Aarons out of position in a manoeuvre that threatens to be as disastrous for the player’s development as it does to our survival hopes.

Even the most ill-informed Newcastle United observer knew last season we needed central defenders as much as we did strikers. Chancel Mbemba looks like a decent hand and is an upgrade on Mike Williamson but he was never enough and at Chelsea McClaren was forced to select a clearly unfit Fabricio Coloccini and there was no more evidence to the years and his current injury catching up with our captain when he gave up five yards to Costa who is hardly Craig Bellamy in a hurry is he?

Much has been and will be made of the money invested over the last few windows at United but it’s never been about how tf124_ipadmuch money has been spent and it has always been about the strength of the squad and the first team. But if we are going to talk about money, let’s question the wisdom of almost £50m poorly invested in Thauvin, Cabella and Mitrovic and further back money squandered on Mbwia, Riviere, De Jong, Ferreya, Santon, Anita, Obertan, Goufrann and need I go on?

How much expertise is there really at Newcastle United?

But none of that exonerates McClaren and he really has to be replaced if we are going to have any chance of staying in the Premier League.

McClaren had ample time to prepare his team for this season but has apparently abandoned the possession model he wanted to introduce at the start of the season and the style of play, such as it is now is no different to that which failed under Pardew. Earlier this season the question was asked about a McClaren style of play and about the identity of the team. We are still asking those questions and it’s the middle of February.

Of course, I’ve never sat in a dressing room and observed McClaren prepare his team for games but I have seen how they have started matches and halves and it looks like whatever message he gives them is either hopelessly inadequate or they aren’t listening. I don’t expect McClaren instructs players not to track back, press, cover, leave their positions and lose their shape but he seems hopelessly unable to persuade them to do it either.

Under Pardew and later Carver we all bemoaned the inability of our team to recover from gaoling a goal down. 1-0 down away from home and you might as well find something more interesting to do because they rarely came back. McClaren’s arrival at United has not made us more resilient. Shoulders still sag when we concede and the towel is thrown in far too readily. The players apparently lack any semblance of belief in themselves and for that reason you have to wonder what our erstwhile motivational coach Steve Black is achieving at United. Is the fragile mentality of our players so weak that McClaren’s forced and false optimism in his post-match interviews directed at preserving the resilience of the weak personalities in his own dressing room?

I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to clock Jonjo Shelvey looking to the United bench at Chelsea and asking for a direction that pavel_ipadnever came. McClaren appeared to have nothing to contribute, which of course is what lots of us have suspected for some time. I’m no psychologist but I’ve seen this retreat into the dugout before from managers and I recall the same with Souness (shudder), Gullit, Dalglish and Pardew of course when they have realised the game was up.

So comrades, what should be done?

I was of the view that McClaren should have gone before Christmas and a new man, my preference was for Moyes, to be allowed to buy 3-4 of his own players in the January transfer window and take it from there. I was of the view Charnley should have been replaced by an experienced club CEO and Carr’s position reviewed. Who can say if that might have worked but those wins at Liverpool (h) and Spurs (a) really were fools’ gold. There have been hints in the media that McClaren’s position has been under review since January but now is as good a time as any to press the button and make a change.

It looks highly unlikely Charnley is going to sack McClaren given he staked so much of his reputation (don’t laugh) on bringing him to St James’ Park and what the situation now requires is for Mike Ashley to intervene. Ashley has to pay the club attention and he has to start being professional. If Ashley fails to act, I fear Newcastle United will be relegated.

Doing nothing can no longer be an option!


There has been a lot of discussion in the last week or so regarding ticket prices. United lost no time in rushing out a press jonjo_shelvey_ipadrelease in which they claimed their offers underlined their commitment to affordable football. I’ll not deny United have some good offers for families but these have been borne of necessity and its rich for the club to spin these offers as they have done.

Let’s have a look at some areas United should address.

Newcastle United should scrap match categorisation for ticket-pricing. It is unfair and iniquitous.

Newcastle United should scrap high cost membership schemes for non-season ticket holders which are self-defeating.

Newcastle United should seriously review the ticket offers it makes to casual, walk-up fans which undermine the value of holding a season ticket and the offers they have previously made to season-ticket holders which in the circumstances make some of the club’s most loyal supporters feel hood-winked and undervalued.

Newcastle United should seriously review its operations in regards for offers such as those to students. I was made aware of several cases last week where supporters who left University four years ago are still on student-deals. That would indicate negligence at the Box Office in terms of these deals are run but they do hint at other opportunities to offer more inclusive prices and which will nurture the club’s younger support in the longer term. Currently, there is too much of a price hike from children to adult ticket costs and whilst the club has those student deals it does not respond to the financial realities for young people, particularly those aged 18-24 just starting to make their way in the world and traditionally in lower paid or part time jobs. The club needs to look at bridging prices for young people. Years ago, we had them when we paid cheaper prices to go in the Gallowgate and Leazes Ends. Now younger fans don’t have that option.

United and Sunderland should also look at a reciprocal ticket deals for the derby matches. That would be a real commitment to both clubs’ most devoted supporters but it would also send a signal across the Premier League (presuming both clubs are in it next season, which they are unlikely both to be given the clip of the table).


A big thank you to all of you who have downloaded the current issue of true faith (TF124) and for the very positive tf124_ipadfeedback on what we have in there for you. In the last week we promoted several articles in there (pieces on Shelvey, Townsend, Saviet and pieces remembering Pavel Srnicek) but there is a hell of a lot more in there than that and whilst we’ll be promoting that additional stuff over the next few weeks, you can get straight at it by clicking on the image below.

The latest issue is over 100+ pages of fantastic fanzine writing and it’s no idle boast we make to claim true faith is Newcastle United’s number one fanzine as well as the most widely read, independent, supporters’-led publication in the country.

We’ve reached that position because of your support and contributions. I’m aware what we do isn’t to everyone’s tastes and we occasionally infuriate some United supporters. We don’t go out of our way to do that of course but we aren’t populists or simply looking to build numbers for advertisers and put out click-bait for that purpose like some we could name. We try to address issues that might be difficult, awkward and challenging and hopefully whether our audience agrees or disagree with what we put out, you’ll appreciate our sincerity and our role in providing an alternative view.

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Anyway. Our excuse for a football team is on its way to Spain for some of that warm weather training we’ve heard so much about and there will be no Newcastle United this weekend.

Let’s be grateful for small mercies.


Keep On, Keepin’ On …


Click on the image below to download Issue 124 of the number one Newcastle United Fanzine, true faith which is now absolutely and completely FREE. It reads brilliantly on any device. 





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17 Responses to THRU BLACK & WHITE EYES – Time To Go – 14/Feb/2016

  1. Vin1892 says:

    Spot on mate. The whole Charnley, Carr, Concur and Mclaren quartet are so intertwined that once one falls they all fall. They are all cowards and no way is any of them capable of making a decision for the better of the club. None of them will get a job with the same remuneration or status ever again in their lifetime so they are not going to give it up without a fight. If Ashley really has seen the light and now wants to make a go of it he needs to appoint football people in the most important areas of the club. It will not happen but I’d love Keegan as MD with a free role to overhaul the club. Lets get rid of Bearsdley and Watson and lets have some direction for our young players because they are just mirroring the first team at present. The whole club needs a good shake up from top to bottom. We live in hope that one day we’ll wake up and have a club to be proud of whether they are successful or not. Surely that’s not too much to hope for.

  2. Pat Hughes says:

    Couldn’t disagree with any of that – absolutely right the lot of it. I’m usually easy-going and non-violent but if I see our ‘manager’ smiling like an imbecile or talking bullshit much more, I will have to kick or throw something. How on earth can he keep inferring that he’s getting there, praising crap performances or bleat on about two training sessions per day in a holiday resort. I resent being treated like an expectant child about to be given a little treat – he’s an embarrassing, dodgy-haired fool. McClaren has either been through the corporate brain-wash or he wasn’t that good to start with. On reflection it’s a yes to both options. Depressingly fed up.

  3. Kenny Henderson says:

    Captain courageous & taylor were together for a fair bit of our last relegation campaign, how long ago? & now back in tandem again just in time for the next one. These 2 fucka’s are seriously shite, neither should play again.
    McLaren ? clueless.
    It is embarrassing watching this lot

  4. which the says:

    With the so called football board being so connected none is likely to act against another. Charnley will not want to admit he got it wrong so will continue to hope we escape relegation in any way, shape or form and carry on regardless. He won’t want to go to Ashley to pay compo. Ashley does not seem to be the type to let things slide and not act so his role in all this is difficult to comprehend. The possible “bounce” of having players like Shelvey and Townsend allied with the locals Colback and Taylor has failed after a couple of games. Everything seems desperate. Elliott is playing out of his skin and even that doesn’t raise them. Colo is just going through the moves until his move in the summer. The fact that Perez can’t even get on the pitch is criminal when Sissoko hides in lots of games and Gini just doesn’t turn up for away games. The usual lack of support for our centre forward doesn’t help whoever plays there.

    as for ticket prices I see some players have commented a sort of support yet the PFA keep quiet. With the wages being offered now and talk of higher to come in view of the new deal surely they should be showing some empathy.

    • Jarra mick says:

      WHICH THE show some empathy? Whatplanet are you on? Footballers at the top level are genuine 3-D cunts who couldn’t give a flying fuck about the fans.

      • Bob says:

        “Should” show some sympathy, but like you certainly don’t expect anything from them. But just think if they agreed to take a 5 or 10% cut what difference that alone would make to season tickets prices. Fantasy I know but they’d still be earning a fortune. Got to be delusional to be a mag.

  5. Stephen B says:

    Excellent piece Michael.

  6. Andy bee says:

    Well written summed it up very well.
    Pat there’s a nail and a head and you put the two together pal…….if that w8nking gibbon smiles once more in a post match interview my f’kin telly will go through the window!!!!
    You can’t coach or manage brolly man at least learn some basic PR we don’t want to see you smile time after time when we get humped . So out of your depth and I think you know it.

    • Pat Hughes says:

      Ha ha – had to buy a new telly just before Xmas so mine’s safe. Not a pretty vision but it’s like The Emporer’s New Clothes – the fool just won’t grasp reality. The PR crap is probably the problem – smile, pretend – repeat. The whole lot of them are in denial and must think we’re as stupid as they are.

  7. Ed Bell says:

    Sums the whole situation up pretty neatly. Regardless of the extenuating circumstances, at most clubs that would have been his last chance, McClaren would have been sacked last night…

    Yesterday was utterly depressing, I think we’re far more in need of (and worthy of) a break than the players…

  8. gjbnufc says:

    As much as I think the podcast etc is brilliant, I actively look on the site each week for the editorial TBAWE after the dust has settled on yet another abject disaster of an NUFC footballing weekend.

    Top quality

  9. Nick says:

    Seems like everyone except Ashley can see that Charnley/McLaren need replacing. How bad does it need to get before action is taken? Chris Hughton was sacked after winning at Arsenal, so why is qualification for the sack so different now. This is Charnley’s dubious “influence” I reckon. Both need to go now – there are 12 games left.

  10. Stuart79 says:

    Great piece. As usual harsh but fair.

    Time to go indeed.

    A few years back we could have had some sort of hope that Ashley would wake up one morning and sack the lot of them in a fit of rage but these days he’s so far detached i doubt he even knows where we are in the league. Does Charnley send him a report every Monday morning showing the table upside down? Does Ashley watch Sky Sports?

    It’s up to Ashley now and he could do himself a lot of good in the eyes of the supporters by taking action, but if the reports are true from Lee Ryder that the club will not make knee jerk decisions (Ha! 26 games knee jerk) and th club hope the 18 days without a game will allow McClaren a chance to do what he hasn’t managed in 6 months then we are well and truly already down!

    The board deserve the club they are creating!

  11. Anton says:

    A bit old news now, but some great comments on the Chelsea preview podcast. As you predicted/half-joked, we ended up playing our slowest forward up front on his own instead of putting the fear of Perez/Gini at the heart of their flat-footed defence. And we played/ruined another young player out of position. Lovely job Steve.

    Also, a very interesting point raised by your Chelsea guest: Lampard was not born into an accomplished mid-field player. He had good coaches around him and he had the instinct (I wouldn’t go so far as to say intelligence) to listen to them and improve. I’d say the same about Shearer: he was not the strongest, tallest or fastest player on the pitch, but he worked hard, learned how to make the most of his gifts and I don’t think there was a single defender who’d enjoy his afternoon when Shearer was around.
    Isn’t it a shame that because of how our club has behaved towards AS, KK, etc Mitrovic hasn’t got a mentor? I am too old to be a hipster, but I think the guy has potential and I can only dream what it would be like to get a few hours’ worth of advice from Shearer after a game; or have AS or KK design training sessions for our forwards. Under such conditions, our policy of buying under 25s would actually make sense.

    • Paul Brown says:

      Good point Anton I’ve wondered myself how Mitrovic could develop with a mentor like Shearer. The problem at Newcastle is at the very top and that won’t change no matter how often the manager/coaches/MD are replaced. A serious owner will bring in the best possible people to run the club. Will never happen under MA.

  12. Peter Shearer says:

    Mike Ashley surrounds himself with people that pander to him. At NUFC and Sports Direct, he chooses people that he is comfortable with and can control. Even if the likes of Moyes were lied to enough to join us, it would not be long before they realised the position, just as Keegan did. Ashley told everyone last year that we would now make our own luck. We have-and we can see the result.

    The only future for this club is post-Ashley. No amount of tinkering will fix that fundamental problem.