'Let's Relegate Newcastle' - Ended Edition
It would appear this long running series has worked.
And as I sit here, party hat on head, smoking a Cuban cigar, I’m wondering if I’m over doing the celebrating. But it is the Bank Holiday weekend, and Newcastle United are now a Championship side. Which, obviously, means that Match of the Day next season will be watchable thanks to the fact that any potential extra smugness has been edged off Mr Shearer who would have been positively insufferable had he returned to the sofa as the messiah that saved the Toon from relegation. I know it’s a selfish self-satisfying wish to see him fail simply for my dislike of his footballing persona. But that’s just me. And sure, the irony of all this is that their failure to defeat Fulham at St James Park almost certainly cost them their Premier League status and in a twist of fate stopped us from claiming a late great entry into the Europa League. Although that’s very much forced irony as the first two months of the season truly cost us any real chance of European football.
The scenes at Villa Park were grim for the Geordies. Tears and broken hearts that we might have experienced ourselves up at Anfield had our players not reacted to the appointment of Harry Redknapp. To be completely truthful – I do feel a little sympathetic for their fans. Just a little. Because that could have been us. But if it was, we’d get so much in the way of abuse and laughter directed our way that it’s only right to laugh back. Just a little.
Fifteen players on 50k per week or more, Owen apparently takes up around 10% of their overall wage budget – this is a club that has to avoid the Leeds United syndrome or run the risk of remaining in the lower leagues for several years as they rebuild from the bottom up. Slowly slowly. They might not have a choice now their 16 years in the top flight is over.
Their defeat at Villa summed up their miserable season, unable to muster up any form of possession and sustained determination to bully their way to a final day result. A Barry mis-shot going nowhere deflected into the goal by Duff. 1-0 Villa. The dream is over.
At one point during this season, we were the worst side in the Prem. No self pride or respect for the badge. No urgency or spirit. No passion or will to win. It was always in there somewhere, and it re-emerged with the players led by an experienced manager who dragged the club out of the mire and high above all the depression down below.
Match of the Day, season 2010: Watchable
We make mistakes at Spurs. But clubs in our position (non-Sky Sports Top Four©) are forced into it as we strive to desperately get within touching distance of the Champions League. The impatience that is siphoned through the fans and media and into the boardroom results in a fragmented seasonal journey. But in comparison to Newcastle United, we run a tight ship. When things go wrong, we are more hotel cabaret than a circus of clowns you’ll find up in the North East.
Mike Ashley, owner of Newcastle, and fan who might actually be a Spurs/Arsenal/West Ham supporter – who along with Paul Kemsley apparently attempted to buy Spurs (phew) is responsible more than anyone for the mess up there. Attempting to appease yourself to fans by downing pints and wearing club colours to games says all you need to know about the superficiality of his tenure at the club. His decisons drowned in a suffocating ocean of naivety.
The sacking of Big Sam and appointment of King Kev illustrates that he was driven by supporter-power. An almost ‘I’m one of the people and will go forth and do what the people want’ ethos which has never amounted to much in the past.
Villa's got Talent
Remember Allardyce standing in the technical area, with two or three Newcastle fans standing up to the right of him singing ‘You don’t know what you’re doing’? It would seem no one at Newcastle does. Sure the football wasn’t pretty under Big Sam but it’s doubtful they would been relegated if all fans and directors held out for a little longer. Playing a certain style and sacrificing other more ugly necessities to retain that beautiful football ethic is something that hasn’t worked too often – so why not suck it all up and wait and see what direction it all takes. When we had Graham at the Lane you can argue our reaction at times was a little similar to those at St James Park – but times have changed. As seen by the appointment of Harry Redknapp – something us Spurs fans could not have dreamt of 5 years ago.
You might not like it, you might not agree with it. It's different to what's come before. But don't dismiss it until it's had a chance.
Instead, in came Keegan for a short cameo. Then off he went thanks to Dennis Wise. Joe Kinnear briefly took the helm and then Alan Shearer – linked to the club several times already – finally decides to get off his MotD sofa and attempt to save the club, with just 8 games left. Obviously understanding that he can’t lose as no matter the final outcome, he is one of the clubs untouchables.
But lose he did.
Hearing his post-match interview speech, he made no excuses and was up front and gave an honest assessment of the season as a whole blaming everyone – including himself – for the mess the club are in. IMO, a brilliant piece of PR spin giving off a modest forthright conclusion which will now lead to plenty ‘will he stay or will he go’ Sky Sports News sound-bites. Anyone could describe the wrongs of Newcastles season because it was blantantly obvious to anyone who follows football why they've finished third from bottom.
But if Shearer really did take stock of the Newcastle United legacy he would have told Mike Ashley that appointing another messiahesque publicity media fan friendly manager was exactly the wrong type of decision that has pummelled them into the Championship. He should never have taken the job.
For Ashley, appointing a legend would mean if they failed to stay up, the blame wouldn’t be as crucifying an affair because it’s Alan Shearer who took them down. The mentality here is, if Shearer can't save them no one can. The reality is, someone with years of experience might have. Or possibly not. The players have been half arsed for most of the season and only a fool would have risked taking the job.
For Shearer it was already a difficult task and considering what came before, the overall blame is shared by many. And that’s his fail-safe. The reason he could take the job in the first place, knowing full well that he could assess how best to go forward and whether he believes himself to be up for the job. The fact he is being considered actually proves nothing has been learnt.
If Shearer wasn’t an ex-Newcastle player, what other credentials does he possess to be a manager and help a club that's in such a perilous position? Just because you are idolised doesn’t mean you can galvanise.
Ashley should have replaced Allardyce (having decided to get rid of him) with a Redknapp style appointment. Although Sam was probably meant to be just that in the first place.
Apparently Shearer is the only one who can bring them back up again, even though he practically admitted he has failed the club. How about, I don't know it's a zany thing to suggest but perhaps an experienced coach as the next appointment? Even - shock horror - someone who has no ties to Newcastle United. Enough of the fantasy football fairytale. Buckle up and bite the bullet.
I wish them luck but with the likes of Ashley at the club, I'm not certain they will find it easy. Would help if they had players that aspired to have the same passion as their fans. But alas, everyone up there is a little delusional.
So, here we are. The upside of it is we can all safely watch Match of the Day next season knowing we only have to put up with Hansen and Lawerson. Don't worry. I have plans for them too.
Now, excuse me. I’ve got another cigar to smoke.