Welcome back everyone. It all comes down to this. Forget the speculation and nonsense of the Newcastle United summer transfer window, this is what we’re all waiting for, the season starting proper. The rest is just a sideshow, this is the main event.
Straight off the bat, I’ll digress. Does anyone remember our FA Cup run in 1998? It was one of the last occasions where I thought a trophy was possible. Alright I was 15, but I honestly thought we were destined to win that cup. Until then manager Kenny Dalglish thought it sensible to go ultra defensive against high flying Arsenal. As Homer Simpson would say- “Doh!” and boy was I given a double dose of reality when the same thing happened a year later.
The soundtrack to that cup run was provided by Metro Radio and in particular match commentator Mick Lowes with the highlights compilation which was accompanied by The New Radicals – You Only Get What You Give. Now, some 25 years later and with renewed hope that we can finally lift some silverware, I’m looking for a truism of modern equivalent.
We’ve flirted with success since them days and it may come as a shock to the younger fan that we actually skirted the chance of putting something in the trophy cabinet and seeing a Newcastle United captain lift a proper cup on a number of occasions, with some genuinely brilliant teams.
Under Sir Bobby, ITV had the Premier League highlights rights back then and their theme song was U2’s Beautiful Day. Whenever that song comes on I always think of us playing splendid football under Sir Bobby with Shay Given pulling off save after save, Nobby Solano and Laurent Robert’s artistry on the flanks, the blistering pace of Craig Bellamy and Keiron Dyer, the dependability of Gary Speed and Alan Shearer scoring goal after goal.
The thing is, that Newcastle United side was put together to win football matches and win football matches against the best in the land, and famously against some of the best in Europe in the Champions League. Every Premiership match was eagerly anticipated and the club was the number 1, 2 and 3 in every Newcastle fan’s lives. I’ll not list the memorable matches, there were too many. For too long now that hasn’t been the case, with turgid football and disappointment a regular bedfellow.
Plenty rival fans saw us Newcastle United supporters “crying on the telly” when another chance at winning something sailed into the four winds, but while we were doing well, It never crossed my mind that I’d see our fans “crying on the telly” in the aftermath of an entirely avoidable relegation. I also never thought in my deepest nightmares that a repeat dose would follow soon after promotion, or that fans would be driven to such apathy with the club that the only way the club/regime could get bums on seats to keep up appearances with the TV companies, would be to resort to giving away 10,000+ free half season tickets. Under Kevin Keegan and Sir Bobby? Unthinkable.
Normally (and forcibly under the Mike Ashley regime) I’m a default pessimist. What can go wrong WILL go wrong and with Newcastle United it usually and historically does. Expect nothing and at least you won’t be disappointed but there’s been a rapid shift in attitude in the ten months since that delirious evening in October 2021 when Sky Sports announced the takeover.
Put simply, something changed. Be it a drive from the new owners to improve the club on every level, a desire to invest in improving the team to get as high up the league as possible in the short to mid term, a professional attitude from said owners AND in the dugout and training ground an added plus. The collective change has seen supporters flood friendlies like never before, jam ticket sales and sell out matches in record time. Didn’t take much, did it Mike?
The previously rested Wor Flags have lit up St James’ Park with their quite frankly staggering displays, reinvigorated by what they / we saw coming from the change in the club, with the last home game of the season against Arsenal providing a goal head start from the off in my opinion. They are also very important.
Alright, I’ll grant you that significant investment has been made in the team already, but that investment has been made with a purpose and a promise to the players that have arrived.
We signed some good players over the last 14 years but they were sold a dream and that dream wasn’t Newcastle United. You can bet your bottom dollar that Bruno Guimaraes and Sven Botman have not been told that the club is a stepping stone to another club like in the way it was presented to the likes of Gini Wijnaldum and Yohan Cabaye. This club is going places and they honestly seem to be enjoying being part of it. Impressed now? Just wait and see if we win something lads. It’s going to blow your minds.
And with that we’re back to the nitty gritty on Saturday. The foundations for the season have been laid in the transfer market and at the training ground. Gone are the negativity and haphazard nature of Steve Bruce and the bare minimum attitude of the previous owner. After the ambition free and listless scaling back of anything remotely resembling progress under the Ashley regime, Newcastle United Football Club is back.
From apathy to hope in simple and easy steps, courtesy of basic unadulterated fun from the club you grew up supporting. Hopefully no “kick in the balls” in the pursuit of (That’s) entertainment here in future.
I suppose the basic message is…Enjoy the ride, it promises to be infinitely better than anything we’ve experienced in nearly 20 years. I’m almost certain that my once optimistic 15 year old self that falsely thought the FA Cup was heading back up and over the Tyne in 1998 against Arsenal is returning. He’s a little older and hopefully wiser now but having been driven like many others to expect nothing even approaching success, this current mood has been a long time coming and I’m predicting the wait for a trophy (any trophy) isn’t going to last much longer. Let’s see where we go. The will of owners, management, players and fanbase have mobilised and are in sync in a fashion I can’t recall in decades, older fans might say . . ever.
The truism is simple – You only get what you give. From where I’m sitting, everyone is pulling (and giving) in the same direction.
Wake up kids, I’ve got the dreamer’s disease…
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