We have a lot in common with our opponents tonight, both massive clubs, Northern powerhouses, passionate loyal support who have gone from brilliant players and thrilling nights in the Champions League to the pain of relegation. Leeds have sadly experienced a lot more heartbreak in the form of relegation than we have and spent 16 years out of the top flight, but now they’re back and boy are they exciting to watch.
Unlike the turgid dull nothingness performances our squad drag out week after week for the loyal but severely depressed Toon army, the Whites play with energy, pace and a real freedom overseen by an enigma of a manager. Unlike our boring old school quintessential “British” manager Leeds are blessed with a manager in Bielsa who doesn’t just provide the clubs he coaches with an identity but he completely reshapes their DNA from the ground up. He seems to make ordinary players look extraordinary which is testament to his undoubted talent as a coach.
TRUE FAITH – Newcastle United's only hard-copy fanzine (also available in digital format) – since 1999 – THE ALTERNATIVE VIEW – New issue (TF153) out now – https://t.co/qiJyd3q5uj #NUFC pic.twitter.com/SsLDW4uyVL
— True Faith: Newcastle United Fanzine and Podcast (@tfNUFC) January 26, 2021
I’ll pause for a moment on Leeds’ brilliant Argentinian manager (but we’ll come back soon) to point out that it wasn’t always the case for the Yorkshire club. Quite the contrary actually, from relegation to financial ruin, selling their best players, Ken Bates to the only Arabs seemingly with no cash in the GFH group, to the controversial figure of Massimo Cellino. Yes, Leeds had more owners than Jordan’s had husbands! Step forward Andrea Radrizanni, and the change truly began.
After purchasing an initial 50% stake Andrea became the majority owner in 2017. He didn’t just walk in and become a benevolent owner. Mistakes were made, much like our own beloved owner has been guilty of time and again, with the appointment of Victor Orta as director of football, who became a decisive figure at the club, responsible for overseeing some questionable managerial appointments, with all hell breaking loose when he tried to push to change the club crest!! However, it was in 2018 when the ownership made a move that would reinvigorate this dormant giant of a club, something that pulled everything together … the hiring of Marcelo Bielsa.
Thanks for all the good feedback on this weeks podcast
If you haven't listened then get it here – a debrief on what Steve Bruce would call 'absolute shite' (again)https://t.co/hwPnbBtW3t
— Alex Hurst (@tfalex1892) January 25, 2021
An experienced world-renowned manager (remember having one of those), a man who’s revered by his peers, a man who the likes of Pep Guardiola and Pochettino look up too and praise for his innovative style of coaching and ability to get the best out of his sides, as well as every last drop of blood, sweat and tears from his players. What we wouldn’t give for a swap on the touchline eh? Much unlike our owner lessons were learned from the sins of the past, and Bielsa quite rightly was afforded a level of freedom to do the right things his way. If only our club had afforded the same respect and trust in Rafa Benitez. Perhaps we wouldn’t be in the mess we are now.
So fast forward to the game tonight and we have a Leeds side reminiscent of the Keegan teams of old, with swashbuckling attacking play and often questionable defending, taking on a Newcastle United side that has no identity and seemingly no way out of the hole they find themselves in. I’m not holding out much hope against a side that smashed 5 past us at Elland Road only a few short months ago. Now I’ll aim for a more balanced viewpoint than some Sky sports pundits. As I don’t just look at points in the table and make ludicrous statements like the fact that only 4 points separate both these sides. No, that would be lazy punditry and journalism wouldn’t it? They are worlds apart as football clubs!
Some kind of tough guy – Bruce runs from the NE press-pack (may struggle with the fanzine lot) – @charlottehope on banning the press – not a good look Newcastle, who's big idea? https://t.co/RWfUbZ0sI1 #NUFC
— True Faith: Newcastle United Fanzine and Podcast (@tfNUFC) January 25, 2021
Unlike Leeds, we still have our rancid owner who has no ambition for our beloved club and demonstrates this regularly with the continued average appointments of managers personified by the current incumbent of the St James’ Park hot seat. Perhaps one day we too will get a new ambitious owner, one who has a vision for our wonderful club which exceeds just merely existing in the Premier league, and we could one day be excited by a forward-thinking manager as brilliant as he his humble, one who inspires his players, his club & his city as Bielsa does for Leeds. And when that day comes? Maybe we’ll get to see the Nufc we all know is possible, and maybe following the blueprint of our mates a bit further down the A1 is something to consider.
Until then we’ll look on in envy as Leeds no doubt play us off the park tonight, running rings round us and earning much deserved plaudits from the footballing world for their bravery, courage and effort, on their way to 3 more points that will keep them in the division and allow them to progress even further ahead of stagnating zombie clubs like us. Especially if our ownership doesn’t change hands any time soon.
CHRIS CURRIE – @wig82