Well. that has been a bit of a whirlwind seven days.
Last week I penned a piece saying how I was done with Newcastle United until such time as Mike Ashley has sold up and left the toon.
I truly believed that the players didn’t care, that Bruce didn’t have a clue what he was doing, and we were in for one hell of a long season.
Fast forward seven days and I still feel the same, just maybe a bit less vigorously.
What happened Sunday was one of those Spurs miracles I had mentioned in my last piece. It always seems to be the case with us. We can’t beat Brighton or Watford, invariably we don’t even bother to turn up in those games – but bring one of the big teams to the door and we all of a sudden know how to play football and seem to want to.
This isn’t a doom and gloom piece, I couldn’t be happier with Sunday’s result, and again, harking back to my last piece – the CEO that I had needed to email is a Man U fan, so our chat in the office on Monday morning was a good one. I get great pleasure from winding him up – he is one of the entitled fans and can’t understand why they aren’t winning, as if they have some god given right.
I don’t think a lot has changed in the last seven days; Bruce is still an extremely bad appointment, one that will most likely see us in the bottom three, or very close to it at the end of the season. MOST of the players still don’t care that much (I want to clarify this though, as it may not have come across properly in my last article – their non-committal attitudes are a direct symptom of not knowing what the hell they are supposed to be doing, a failing of the coach, not theirs), and yes, we are still going to struggle this year.
The best thing that Bruce has done since he came to the club was giving Matty Longstaff his debut. Was his hand forced slightly by Ki’s injury and Hayden’s suspension?
Of course, but he still could have given Shelvey the start instead, even though he may not be 100% match fit. Every now and again you have to be a bit brave and push the boat a bit further than you normally would and that decision on Sunday was the defining moment of our entire weekend.
Yes Matty got the winning goal but without the decision to start him in the first place, I don’t think we would have had the game we did.
A 19 year old kid, playing alongside his brother in the centre of midfield, his boyhood club, against one of the biggest teams in the world; the pride and passion that invokes in a young lad, the rest of the squad would have to be robots for it not to rub off on them. Then factor in a great performance, committed running, brave passing and a calm attitude that a seasoned professional would be proud of, I mean it doesn’t get much better does it.
Again, my opinion hasn’t really changed that much from last week but what Sunday did was bring back a small bit of pride.
I know the Longstaffs. They grew up on my street in North Shields and whilst they are considerably younger than me, my brother was often out playing with them. You would always see them with either a football or an ice hockey stick, smashing whichever shaped ball they were playing with against one of the garage doors in the street. My car took a bit of a pounding one afternoon when Sean had unleashed a thunderb..tard across the road.
My dad drinks with their dad and my cousin is marrying one of their dad’s Ice Hockey prodigies. They are part of Newcastle foundations. They are from here, they love being from here, they are proud to be wearing the shirt, they want to do well, and having that kind of enthusiasm around the club might, just, be a catalyst for a bit more passion from the rest of them.
We aren’t seeing a revolution. This isn’t going to be the beginning of a charge up the table and I still don’t expect us to have many good days this season. It is still going to be long and painful, but IF, whatever happens, we come away this season with a couple of Local Heroes in the Longstaffs, then it might just be worth it.
I don’t like the money in football. It has ruined the game in my opinion. Long gone are the days of young local lads coming through the ranks – of course it happens, but for every Matty Longstaff, there are five £50million Freds being brought to our shores, killing the opportunities for our young ones.
Local lads are the building blocks of Newcastle United. Wor Jackie, Shearer, Robson, Gascoigne, the Charlton brothers, Waddle, Beardsley; Young lads that and set the world alight. Players that make you proud to be from the same place on this little earth of ours.
Sunday was a great result. Three very much needed points from a game we probably didn’t expect any and it is a result that certainly eases a few of the mounting pressures, but waking up today, I feel proud to be a Geordie. That’s what I want from football, that’s what I want it to do for me.
Trophies, European adventures, I would love to have those, but if we can’t, then pride is the next big thing. For a few days at least, I think we can all have that for a change.