January is tough for several reasons. The stroke of the New Year, among other things, signifies the re-opening of the transfer window. Roughly half of the schedule in most of the major European leagues is gone and most clubs have a pretty acute knowledge of what exactly it is that they need to do to [insert one of the following: (challenge for the league/challenge for Europe/avoid relegation)]. Many of those same clubs have an acute knowledge of whether [insert one of the following: (this will happen completely/ in part / not at all.) If you happen to be a club that has been relegated recently, overachieved mightily in a season and are having tremendous problems during the current season, the slowing of the fixture load combined with the opening of the transfer window is an invitation for every insidious rumor to take legs and every supporter that loves your club to worry that a) the rumors are true and b) it means doom for your club.
The meltdowns are hotter in January, the level at which disbelief is suspended is lower and morale is about as low as it could get (at least when you're only sitting on 20 points after 21 matches). The newspapers know this... and they love it. The internet also loves it because there is so much chaff out there you can throw handfuls upon handfuls at a time at the wall to see if it sticks. Some sites make a point of vetting rumors at least to a certain extent. Some do not. The internet, being a funny old thing, feeds into this with it's pay-per-click based payment schemes.
Every January like clockwork, the entire squad is said to be leaving Newcastle. Players who have recently re-upped contracts with the club, or have recently joined the club, players who have been happy at the club and given of themselves to crazy levels, who have been relegated with the club and came back with the club... they're all going. Why? Because we go batshit crazy over the stories. We click them, pass them around, tweet about them. We are the Internet Marketeer's dream. We're firing the manager before we even get actual solid information that the rumor we want him fired over is even a thing.
You can't blame us, though. The club have a history of flogging off our best, most popular players from under our noses (Glen Hoddle, Paul Gascoigne, David Ginola, Peter Beardsley, Andy Carroll spring pretty immediately to mind). Especially under the guidance of Mike Ashley, we have been bridled with the mantle "selling club". It's not our first transfer window if you will. Already this January, we've seen Demba Ba out... so why not Davide Santon, Fabricio Coloccini, Yohan Cabaye and fire Alan Pardew? I get it and all - once bitten. But sometimes, it's best to just take a breath, grab a cuppa or a pint or whatever you would like to have and look at the big picture. I've read two outstanding pieces today - one was a column by George Caulkin of The Times that was available outside the pay wall only for a limited time so I can't link it which does not help you - the other was this logical look at Fabricio Coloccini's current situation. They were breaths of fresh air amidst all the Twitter meltdowns today.
It is a little tough in January - the holiday programme of two-a-week fixtures (unless you're Arsenal or West Ham) has finally slowed down, and you finally have time to decompress. For Toon fans, that meant recovering from a 4-3 loss to Manchester United, a 7-3 loss to Arsenal and plenty of other losses sprinkled in and around just for good measure... so the decompression was always going to be a bit messy. Factor in the sale of Demba Ba and then a rumored departure of popular club captain Fabrico Coloccini and it was an emotional bridge too far. Of course - being emotional and impassioned about our club is our hallmark, so maybe you should go ahead and smash that pint glass against the wall and cuss a blue streak over the name of Alan Pardew. It'd sure beat being a fan of [insert name of your favorite "shite support" target club here].
How are you feeling this January? Let us know down in the comments! Also, check out our transfer hub for all of our stories related to transfer rumors, gossip and innuendo.