I Am The Resurrection
By Jonathan Anderson
Tuesday 23 Oct 2012 10:49:00
Browse all Jonathan Anderson articles
 

 How Newcastle United, its fans and its owner came back from the brink of the football abyss a far stronger unit 

 

May 24th 2009 is day that will stay in the memory of all that hold Newcastle United close. It is a day that will be remembered as one of the darkest days in our clubs rich history. The day that our club faced falling into the football oblivion after defeat at Villa Park, in front of their gleeful fans, looked to have been the final and fateful blow after years of abuse by Messrs Hall, Shepherd & Ashley. To all who witnessed that day (and in fact the 15 years leading up to it!), very few could have realised that the awful events of that day could now be looked back on as one of the best things to have happened to our club. 

 

By the point we were relegated, we had become a joke, the laughing stock of the Premier League. Thanks to the three chairmen past and present previously mentioned; along with their own cast of characters; Kinnear, Barton, Shearer, Wise, Keegan, Dyer, Allardyce, Souness, Bellamy, Owen etc., etc.; we became a soap opera, a spoof football club that the rest of the football world pissed themselves laughing at as we shot ourselves in the foot time and time again. We had become the Spinal Tap of football.

 

There was never a strategy. Just a succession of highly paid managers on long term contacts given bundles of cash to blow on anyone they fancied, then after 18 months/2 years given the boot and paid off for failing to deliver. By the time we were relegated the team was some kind of mongrel mish-mash of about 5/6 different manager’s players; managed by a former player who’d signed none of them!! It just had to come to a head at some point.

 

Then there were the finances. Now I’m no business whizz so I’m not about to start lecturing you all on how it should have been done, but if all the reports are to be believed, our club was days away from implosion thanks to Sir John’s and Freddie’s reckless running of the club and desire to feed us lot with the trophy signings we all craved so much. God knows where we would be now if Mike had actually checked the books before laying down his cash. It was undoubtedly to protect his own investment, so I am reluctant to give too much credit, but we could well have followed Leeds and Portsmouth into the black hole had he not paid off the debt that had been racked up. I’m sure there will come a day when he wants it back, but at least now we’re in a position to pay it. At the time however, we needed someone to blame, and after the farce that the 2008/09 season was, and the crass, unprofessional even inept way the club had been ran, the owner took the flack.

 

At this point I think it’s high time I explain my reasons for why I believe that relegation was one of the best things to happen to us. When you have a computer that’s freezing and crashing, to fix the problem, wipe the slate clean and start again; you have to turn it off and turn it back on again. That is what was needed at St James’ Park.

 

The first step came before the new season had even started. The deadwood that had accumulated over the years in mismanagement had to be cleared. The likes of Owen, Viduka, Duff, Geremi etc.; who were all paid exorbitant sums of cash to give their all for NUFC, and in return gave fuck all and ended up sending us down, all needed to be shown the door. The most heartening thing at the time was the fact that they were shown the door by the ones who did give fuck, the ones who were embarrassed and the ones who did want to put it right. Step forward Kevin Nolan, Steve Harper, Alan Smith, Shola Ameobi, Fabricio Coloccini, Jonas Gutierrez, Jose Enrique, Joey Barton. These men, along with others, and led by Chris Houghton, stood up and took this club back to where it belonged; and for that, regardless of their exit or who they may now play for, will always have mine, and I’m sure your respect. 

 

Once we returned to the Premier League, the owner and his lieutenants once again did themselves no favours with the fans and media alike with their constant refusal to communicate and their seemingly stronger refusal to invest in the team. Unknown to any of us however, this time there was a strategy. As we are all now aware, Alan Pardew was brought in to succeed Chris Houghton after what was felt by all as a very harsh sacking; and has proved a shrewd appointment and indeed a fine coach. A perhaps more vital component in the structure however, was the appointment of Graham Carr. Our now infamous Chief Scout who was brought into scour the continent for the best unearthed, low cost talent under the age of 26. Long gone are the days of Top 4 cast offs coming to Newcastle for another big pay day without having to bother their arse doing much for the cause. Good riddance. After the sale of Andy Carroll, many of us may look at this strategy and these signings as a way for Mike to make more money “Buy ‘em cheap, sell ‘em high”, unfortunately, and this is the bit that’s hard to swallow, as we don’t have a Russian or Arab billionaire to bank roll us, then the odd ridiculous £35 bid will have to be accepted. It’s the way it is now, you can’t run a top Premier league club on tick like Freddie did, we can’t afford to make the mistakes of the past again; never again can our great club be brought to its knees the way it was in 2009.

 

Relegation also brought about another significant (and necessary) change at Newcastle United; a change in us, the fans. When we were promoted in 1993 under Kevin Keegan, success was instant; straight away we were competing for European places and even league titles, from these early days the bar for success was set pretty high. Then under Robson a few years later, Champions’ League football returned and we were back where we believed we should be, amongst the elite. This belief is a good thing, we should all want the best for our club, the problem comes when this belief manifests and turns to arrogance. Prior to 2009, how many times did you roll through the turnstiles on a match day thinking “Oh its only Coventry/Charlton/Leicester today….3 easy points”? If I’m honest, I did. During the Robson days, did you start taking European football and the UEFA Cup for granted? Again, I did. Relegation has made us realise just how competitive the Premier League is these days and how much of an achievement getting into Europe really is. It has to be this competitive now because of the finances involved; failure now has the power to literally destroy a club. I believe that we, the fans, have realised that we cannot take success for granted anymore, we must fight tooth and nail together for what we think we deserve.

 

The last 3 seasons have been probably 3 of my most enjoyable years going to match; we’ve seen some once in a lifetime matches, a team playing as a unit, together for each other and for the fans; and now, to cap it all off, the return of European nights to SJP. I for one will no longer be taking this achievement lightly. What had been being served up on the pitch, and in the boardroom, in previous years had left me a little jaded; the Championship season brought back my love of going to the match again. Out of the glare of Sky Sports News, the departure of the fair-weather fans from the stands, proper 3pm Saturday Kick-offs, playing proper clubs, with proper fans, proper football!!! 

 

So once again, I state that I believe that relegation was the one of the best things to happen to NUFC. I believe that because that monumental event has made each member of the holy trinity of any football club - The Players, The Owners and The Fans realise that regardless of what club you are at, success doesn’t just happen, it needs hard work, preparation and most importantly in needs unity. For, if we have learnt nothing else from the last few years, when we are all pulling together as one in the same direction, all our dreams can be realised.  



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