If the current run of form was not so entirely predictable it would be sad. But this is Newcastle United and we’ve been here before.
For Almiron, read Wijnaldum.
For Saint-Maximin, read Townsend.
For Joelinton, read Mitrovic.
For Bruce, read McClaren.
This season has an all too familiar feel. Against the backdrop of an owner claiming the club is for sale, fan protests, lack of ambition and complete apathy towards the football club, Sunday produced one of the worst football displays in recent times. The most disappointing aspect was not the result but the way the team folded like a house of cards. Goalkeeping errors, defensive mistakes, midfielder dismissals and an isolated striker. How has it taken Steve Bruce not three months to undo the three years of work by his predecessor?
Under Benitez our team had structure, was well disciplined and produced some great results but even this was against the backdrop of underinvestment in the playing staff and facilities. There is a certain irony about the sprucing up of Terrace Bar after Benitez’s “they only painted a wall” comments. The days of coming from behind to beat Manchester City although only months ago seem a lifetime away again.
Benitez allowed us to dream about our football club and took everyone who met him along with him. I was fortunate enough to meet Benitez in the team hotel in Wolfsburg and the 15 minutes we spent chatting about football, the team and tactics were inspiring. Whilst Benitez had his critics, rightly or wrongly, I don’t think I could have handpicked a better man for the role of Newcastle United manager.
But in the words of Jamaal Lascelles – “Rafa’s gone”.
Resigned, sacked, resigned. Resigned, sacked, survived… In comes Steve Bruce, man of the people. Geordie born and bred, he’s from Wallsend. Bruce’s CV would read more appropriately for a “How not to be a football manager” book as opposed to the manager, or should that be head coach, of a Premier League football team. There isn’t another Premier League club that Bruce would have been given the head coach role of this summer. Sheffield Wednesday should discontinue their legal proceedings out of pity. At least McClaren had a European league title and a UEFA cup final on his CV.
Bruce’s style of football is working wonders for the protest groups with attendances dwindling and season ticket holders turning away.
Even the latest round of Peter Kenyon’s takeover saga lasted little over 24 hours. With the new expansive, front-foot football setting St James’ Park alight you should be hard pressed to get a ticket. The reality is that its hard to be on the front foot if you’re only going to have 20-odd percent possession in games. Rumours are already circulating regarding the players upset and the lack of tactical work in training but this is of little surprise with Steve “I don’t really like tactics” Bruce at the helm.
But when everything is said and done, this mess falls at the door of one man and one man alone. Mike Ashley. Pantomime villain for the last 12 years, Ashley seems no closer to selling our football club than he did 10 years ago. If truth be told I do not believe that he is a willing seller. Anytime someone seems to come close he moves the goalposts, be it an extra “£10m here or there” as he said in the Daily Mail article or continued sponsorship by S***** D*****. The only thing that Mike Ashley understands is money. That is why action by the fans has never been more important. Be it not attending games, cancelling your season ticket, not purchasing merchandise, not purchasing anything from the concession stands within the ground it all counts and it all matters. As Keegan said, “He is one man. We are a city.”
I have nothing but respect for those who take action – in whatever form. The definition of insanity is to do the same thing again and again but expect a different result. Newcastle United fans, whoever you speak to, have said, “Support the team not the regime” but where has that got us so far?
by Joe Moore