I recently read an article in which Danny Mills was called out for the fact he responded a question on Sheffield United’s prospects with an answer that might have been applicable had it been asked the last time the Blades were in the top flight in 2006/07. Mills’s opinions on how they are as a club and team now, and how Chris Wilder sets-up his side, were in the opinion of the article’s author not ‘a difference of opinion’ but ‘wrong’. I agree.

This got me thinking about Danny’s thoughts on NUFC fans and, given his views of Sheff United seem to be based on him watching Neil Warnock’s team 13 years ago, his opinions on United seem to be the product of playing against them in the early 00s. I’ve looked at the transcript on the words he uttered on Talk Sport on July 17th and, like his comments on Sheff United, they’re utterly baffling. Has Danny Mills hasn’t been hired because of his acerbic wit, analytical brain and knowledge of football? Maybe. Or has he been hired purely and simply because he’s an ex-pro? His opinions on NUFC and Sheff United smack of laziness and the type of arrogance that makes someone believe their opinion is more accurate and valid than yours because they played football professionally and you didn’t.

Mills said of Steve Bruce’s appointment, “I think it’s a safe appointment, and it’s probably what they need right now…Could they really gamble like Derby have on Phillip Cocu, or someone like that? Mike Ashley is not going to do that”.

It’s probably what they need right now? Danny failed to offer an explanation as to why United need a manager with a Premier League win rate of less than 1 in 3 to replace the departed multi-trophy winning world class respected manager beloved by the fans, Rafa Benitez. He said it’s what the Club needs right now so therefore it just must be.

United supposedly couldn’t afford to gamble on someone like Phillip Cocu, a winner as manager of 3 Eredivisie titles with PSV Eindhoven, including their first since 2008, a Dutch Cup and 5 years managerial experience in the Champions League. Mike Ashley definitely wouldn’t take a risk like that as it’s obviously far better for the Club to have a safe pair of hands such as the 2 times relegated from the Premier League Steve Bruce at the helm (also sacked for having our dear rivals on the edge of the relegation spots and sacked from Villa just this year for getting one of the most expensively assembled squads in the history of the Championship to 12th place). Mike Ashley definitely wouldn’t do something like gamble on someone like Philip Cocu when it’s far better for the Club to employ men such as Steve McLaren (sacked from Championship Derby), John Carver (no words necessary), Alan Pardew (binned at West Ham, Charlton and Southampton of League One) or Joe Kinnear (out of the game for 8 years and disconcertingly unstable).

Mills said of the Club’s owner that, ‘It’s difficult because you look at it from Ashley’s point of view and you think, well, he’s keeping the club there or thereabouts in the Premier League, he’s not spending money which makes it difficult for the managers.’ I guess for Danny ‘thereabouts’ includes two relegations in 9 seasons which is perfectly reasonable when you consider the club had been relegated four times since 1892.

Danny reckons that United “have 55,000 people turn up every single game, the fans are fanatical, but that doesn’t give you any divine right to be in the top six – you’ve got to do it.” The capacity of St James’ Park is 52,405 with 3000 of those seats being given to away fans. The average attendance at Newcastle last season was 51,121. Our highest ever average in the Premier League era was 52,032 in 2005/06 when we couldn’t get enough of Glenn Roeder’s charge for the Intertoto Cup spot.

Apparently, you don’t have a divine right to finish in the Top 6, ‘you’ve got to do it’. That’s great to know as, given that we’ve finished in the top 6 once since 2004, finished in the top 10 only two more times since then, and been relegated twice in that period, I definitely think we all have God complexes and believe we should be in the top 6 regardless of results because we’re massive, get gates of 55,000 and ‘had great players and great teams in the past.’

Danny reckons we ought to look at other Premier League clubs as models, stating ‘look at what Bournemouth have done on small budgets, it can be done.’ The Cherries spent £62.5 million net in the 2 full seasons Rafa had United in the Premier League, after having spent over £100 million more in the previous 2 seasons as a Premier League side. Newcastle’s net spend under Rafa in the Premier League was £22,150,000. Plus, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to perhaps look beyond Bournemouth who’ve had 5 seasons in the top flight in their entire history and get gates almost 5 times smaller than United.

The former Leeds defender’s pièce de résistance was the comment that, ‘I just think Newcastle fans’ expectations are too high.’ I’d love to know where Danny sourced the evidence to formulate this opinion. I want to know so much how, when and where he carried out the research which led him to come to this conclusion that I called his agent and left a message asking if he’d mind being interviewed by TF as his opinions differ somewhat from those of the vast number of NUFC fans that I know. I’m not saying I know and speak to more Newcastle fans than Danny Mills, of course. I’d also be interested to hear what these expectations are that are ‘too high’. I’m still waiting for my call to be returned.

I’d like to see a Club that wants to finish as high up the table as possible, wants to try and go on cup runs, invests in the local community, builds a training ground and academy that at least matches those of its peers, and doesn’t have an owner who has behaved in a manner that has led to one club legend taking it to court (and winning) over how he was treated and another being ostracised and ignored when trying to work out whether or not he was supposed to be managing the club. I’d also like an owner who doesn’t repeatedly break promises to a manager loved by fans and who might offer said manager at least some incentive to stay, as opposed to a deal worse than the one he’d previously been employed on. If those expectations are too high for Danny then I’d love to see what presents he gets for the people he loves at Christmas.

We’re ‘living on the past’ according to Danny but because of our history we ‘hark back to the days when the likes of Shearer and Ginola and all those sorts of players were there and they were challenging for things – but it’s been a long, long time since that happened.’ First of all, cheers for confirming that it’s been a long, long time as time is a concept with which I’ve been struggling with for years. At least now I know what a long, long time is – roughly 15-20 years by Danny’s reckoning. It’s staggering that as fans we get nostalgic and hark back to when we were good, isn’t it? For Danny, we must forget the past, tolerate the present and focus on the future where, if we get it right, we might get to be as good as Bournemouth. Forget Ginola, Shearer and Rafa and start dreaming of Gosling, Cook and Eddie Howe, you delusional Geordie bastard. Listen to Danny, he played the game so he knows us better than we know ourselves.

Norman Riley