Carrying Coals to Newcastle

Feb 2 Jamie Hardesty

Newcastle United: The Disappointment That Just Keeps On Giving

I’m told that writing is therapeutic. Whilst this may be true, I think I’d have to keep writing until I’m old and grey to get over what I witnessed yesterday! I can’t yet face trying to pull my thoughts together. Frankly I’m exhausted. However, we do have an excellent article for your reading pleasure by Birmingham based mag Aidan Fittis. To contribute like Aidan, feel free to get in touch. All submissions are welcomed. 

Currently living in Birmingham, just a stone’s throw away from where Newcastle United suffered their darkest hour in recent times, I am often reminded by the Villa ‘faithful’ of that day and teased with the question “So remind me again, just how is it Newcastle are a big club?” I’m fast running out of answers.


In years previous United fans could have responded with tales from Barcelona, Milan and Turin.  Because although under the stewardships of King Kev and Sir Bobby we never actually won anything, Newcastle United competed with the very best and put the city on the map alongside Europe’s footballing elite. The departure of Yohan Cabaye however, once again underlines just how much of a giant step back the club has taken over the last decade or so, and makes the job of myself and all Toon fans alike that much more difficult when posed with the ‘big club question’.


The time has finally come to accept that so long as Ashley and his cronies are running the club, Newcastle United will remain in a constant state of mediocrity and will achieve no more than, and be no better than the likes of Villa, Southampton and dare I even say it, Sunderland.


Cabaye My Lover, Cabaye My Friend

The breaking of last week’s news that Paris Saint German had managed to get the Cabaye deal ‘over the line’ within a matter of hours came as no great surprise to any United fan.  Yohan has wanted a move from away Tyneside for 6 months now and can anyone really blame him?


In his first season United narrowly missed out a Champions League spot but instead of strengthening the squad at the opportune moment, messrs Ashley and Co were quite happy to take their foot off the gas and see if the same squad could replicate their achievements the following year. As it turned out, that same core of players more than flirted with relegation, and had it not been for a few signings solely aimed at keeping the team afloat could well have went down. All in all, from the moment Yohan arrived at the club, never have the hierarchy indicated that they would be willing to invest so as to keep our star player and really push for the greatest stage in European football.


Instead, season after season, transfer window after transfer window, fans are force fed the same shite about ‘players needing to be right for Newcastle United’ and finding it difficult to get that signing ‘over the line’. For us fans it is infuriating, but for a top class player like Cabaye watching this unfold from the inside, it must be just as bad. Looking around the dressing room and seeing yourself surrounded by run of the mill players like Sissoko, Cisse and Ameobi is hardly a major pull to stay put when a team boasting the talents of Ibrahimovich, Cavani and Thiago Silva is knocking at your door.


Now I’m not for one minute suggesting that United could ever attract players of that caliber, but when teams such as Southampton and Sunderland are spending 20 million plus in transfer windows, how is it acceptable that Newcastle United invariably manages to spend next to nothing. Instead, a policy of ‘every player has their price’, leads to a situation where our best players are forever leaving for a brighter future. This suits Ashley perfectly. So long as the team is strong enough to stay in the top flight and fulfill its role as an advertising board for Sports Direct, everyone upstairs at the club is happy. Having a player amongst the ranks such as Cabaye who has the ability and hunger to threaten this state of mediocrity is a dangerous game in Ashley’s eyes. His mentality tells him to sell quick and put an end to any chances of challenging for Europe, rather than invest and build a talented squad around a player such as Cabaye.


The Blame Game

Obviously, much of the blame for this mess must lie at the door or Ashley, but the problem runs much further. Joe Kinnear, director of f***all has to shoulder much of the blame, as does Alan Pardew.


The first two culprits require little explanation, whilst the third is slightly more controversial in the eyes of some Toon fans.


Ashley and Kinnear are seemingly on a mission to ruin the club, selling players and replacing them with rubbish, or nothing at all as is more often than not the case. When given the role as director of f***all Kinnear claimed that fans should judge him on his signings and not on what had gone before. Well Joe, we are judging you on your signings, and you’re doing a pretty shite job. In his short time at the club in his current capacity we have seen decent squad players such as Perch leave, while more drastically our best player Cabaye has departed. In terms of arrivals we have seen Loic Remy and more recently Luuk De Jong sign on loan. Remy however, looks almost certain to take his money driven career elsewhere come summer, whilst De Jong is only here due to a less than impressive stint in Germany.


As for Ashley, his transfer policy is nothing short of a shambles. Although it is true that such a policy led to the arrival of Cabaye in the first place, the unearthing of Yohan’s talents was simply a one off. Players such as Obertan and Marveaux more accurately reflect the fruits of Ashley’s policy, whilst I am still far from convinced by the likes of Sissoko and Yanga. Selling United’s finest asset was simply another shining example of Ashley’s total lack of ambition. The sad reality is that whereas for the fans, Newcastle United represents a sense of belonging and pride, for Ashley it symbolises nothing more than another money making venture.


As for Pardew, I for one am sick of him playing Ashley’s puppet and doing as instructed. Only the other day he gave a press conference claiming to be positive about the prospects of United getting the Grenier deal ‘over the line’, only for it to become clear hours later that the player would not be heading to St. James’. A manager with any respect for football and their profession would have walked away from this job a long time ago. In fact, I seem to recall a certain Kevin Keegan doing just that. Pardew, however, is more than content to do Ashley’s dirty work for him, acting as the middle man between upstairs and then fans. Feeding us constant lies from a rehearsed script, his job is simply to mask the reality of what Newcastle United has become. Hopefully this latest saga will open the fans’ eyes to the reality that Pardew cares about Newcastle no more than Ashley or Kinnear. Like his superiors, Pards is in it for himself and goes about his day to day business fully aware of the fact that so long as he obeys orders from above, regardless of results on the pitch, his job at United is under no threat.


Put simply, Newcastle United is a club crippled by negativity and a lack of understanding as to what football means to the city and its people. The 11 players on the pitch represent no more than money making assets, and the powers that be are of the view that so long as they are good enough to keep the team in the top flight, nothing else matters. Pride and ambition took a back seat at United the moment Ashley took charge, and so long as he remains they show no signs of making a comeback any time soon.


Aidan Fittis