For those reading this who are 20 or over it doesn’t need to be said, but to those who were born after 1995, Newcastle Utd actually used to be quite a big side. With this weeks appointment of Steve McLaren and Mike ashley’s interview on the last day of the season, many are wondering if this sleeping giant from the North East can return to what many see as their natural place, in the upper echelons of the Premier league.
Just 20 years ago Kevin Keegan was managing a Newcastle Utd side that was leading the title race. Skip to the modern day, and after a relegation in 2009 Newcastle have yet again been involved in another relegation battle. Though the strange thing about newcastle is that next year could well be a very different story. The curious state of affairs at newcastle is that every so often they seem really quite good. For example in the race for the top four in 2012, or even the start of this season where Alan Pardew had them winning game after game, few would have predicted a relegation scrap come the end of the season, but out of nowhere they collapsed again. Its the story of a group of players who are very talented, but who just don’t seem to gel. Whether its due to manager’s like John Carver, or something else, something just isn’t working. This isn’t something new either, this has been going on since Bobby Robson left the club, and consequent managers have not been able to get them going. The likes of Graham Souness and Sam Allardyce with great players like Michael Owen, Fabricio Coloccini, and Obafemi Martins all at their disposal have produced nothing, and it begs the question on whether the problem comes from the top. Specifically Mike Ashley.
Mike Ashley bought Newcastle in 2007, he is a newcastle fan, he wanted to do it well, on paper he seems like the ideal owner. However things haven’t quite gone to plan. Since Mike Ashley has taken over many fans have grown progressively distant, and in the past season it hit breaking point, with games being boycotted due to the owner’s supposed lack of investment. As shown below, fans are bored.
But i cant help but feel they are maybe a bit out of touch. I get that its important to entertain the fans, but Newcastle’s golden era of Alan Shearer playing with the likes of Bellamy and Laurent Robert was built on debt. The club invested millions in the time of endless money, but then it slowed up, look at Portsmouth, and i think Newcastle fans need to ask what would they rather? Have won the 2008 FA cup and now be in league 2, or be in their current state as a mid table premier league side. I think most would not choose the former, and those who argue Newcastle are too big for that, just look at leeds. Mike Ashley has balanced the books and this era of mediocrity is sadly the product of an over investment to make a go at the big time, it didn’t work, and now Newcastle are paying the price.
It may seem harsh, but there is little to suggest Newcastle are more than a provincial club. The club has a huge following, but its not a brand like the other big clubs, there are very few fans out of the north and foreign players dont grow up wanting to play there. This is a club that has won the same number of trophies as Wolves and \nottingham forest so realistically i hink they need to aim for cups. Mike Ashley has finally balanced the books and with his claim that they can win a trophy are we likely to see some long awaited investment? His appointment of Steve McLaren is a signal of intent, and he will surely give him some money to bring in his own players. Also his incredibly bold statement of going for a champions league place (no matter how unlikely) means they are surely going to give it a go. Maybe Newcastle will finally come out of their shell and have something to shout about. It’s a weird club, few have a whole city behind them like newcastle do, but then again few who have such large stadiums yet don’t win things. With some good buys and good management they could do alright this year and push for the europa league in the future.
But then again its Newcastle, so i’m pretty sure no one knows how they’ll do.