"Everything is connected to everything." I don't know who said this originally, but I know it was mentioned in that great philosophical classic, "Wilfred", and it's something that I've taken up as a way of looking at the world. I find that it helps me understand literature, some politics, the economy (to a degree) and all sorts of other things.
And now, it has helped me understand Newcastle United.
When the morning broke in England, and the Chronicle tweeted out a link to an article headlined"Fatigue is setting in admits Newcastle boss Pardew after League Cup defeat", the fan reaction was understandable. Here's an example:
We've heard it before. That the players are tired. We make jokes about it, what with "Alan Pardew Excuse Bingo" being a phrase tossed around. It gets old. It sounds like another excuse for another poor performance. It's not one person in the dressing room, coach's box or board room standing up and saying, "I need to do better." It's "well, the lads are tired, but we gave it a good go. Onto the next one." The next one being the game where we lose but "looked like the better side" or the opponent is simply a team that "Newcastle can't compete with".
Here's the thing. I can imagine that the players are tired. They played a match on Sunday, they played 120 minutes on Wednesday and they've got Chelsea coming up this weekend. And this Newcastle team has no depth to speak of. By my count, Newcastle trotted out six regulars in their cup clash with Leeds and seven regular starters yesterday versus Manchester City. You can argue that this is making the cup a priority, but I don't think so. I think you have to be able to run out players that you trust to get results. Can Newcastle trust Adam Campbell to score goals? Not yet. Can Curtis Good be trusted on the back line? Not yet.
This issue of depth is not just merely putting warm bodies in a black and white shirt. It's about having players on the pitch that are capable of getting results. There are clubs that manage much more hectic schedules than Newcastle United do, and they can do so because they have quality in their depth.
Which brings us to the summer transfer window, where Newcastle brought in one player on loan (and aren't we glad they did....where would this club be without Loic Remy?) and did nothing else. Director of Football Joe Kinnear chased away a loan deal for Douglas because he had not heard of the Brazilian-Dutch center back who had been called up to the Dutch national team in 2012. Boy, wouldn't some solid depth on the back line be nice to have right now?
Apparently though, Kinnear and the board felt they had done a job. No matter that this team just barely staved off relegation a year ago (mostly due to being tired, which was from a lack of depth), there was no need for anything new to be added to the team. But then...
That's Lee Ryder, summing up Kinnear's comments in the match program for Newcastle's match with Liverpool. It seems to be saying, "Well, we'd have money to invest if we could get some good sponsorship, but the big clubs take away everything!" Try to put it out of your mind that this is one of the best supported clubs in England and is constantly one of the 20th wealthiest clubs in Europe. Now think about what it would take for Newcastle to bump up from the ranks of Wonga to a bigger brand like Unilever. Unilever is ranked the 12th largest business in England (by Forbes), and is one spot behind Aviva, who in addition to sponsoring the Rugby Premier League also sponsors Norwich City. It should be noted that Norwich may not get a lot out of their shirt deal, but according to this chart, Newcastle lost money in their shirt change, so, you know....whatever.
So, how does Newcastle get more for sponsorships and the like? By making cup runs, getting into Europe and doing well there, and being a constant presence near the top of the table. How does a club accomplish all of that? By investing in quality players, giving itself solid depth, and going out and getting results.
So, we see that the cycle is likely to continue. Newcastle will say they don't have the money to invest and so the club depth will suffer. The club will under perform (quite possibly against fan expectations, but still). Sponsors will be weary of attaching their name to a shirt that may very well be playing in the second flight. Newcastle won't bring any players in.
On some level, one of our league opponents is the cautionary tale against "going for broke" if you will. Newcastle don't want to "do a Leeds" (getting relegated a couple of times because the club has no money), and Mike Ashley really doesn't want that, because than he would never get his money back. The club would also be keen on avoiding administration, lest it wind up like Portsmouth currently toiling in the third tier.
But, given how well supported Newcastle is (very full home matches, away support is always sold out) and how well off it is financially (again, one of the 20 richest clubs in Europe) those concerns should be put to bed. This club has been plagued by bad decisions and a lack of action for awhile. It will take money to get out of this cycle. It may very well be that we'll be having this conversation until Mike Ashley sells the club, which is something he says he'll do one minute and then changes his mind the next.
Trying to read the tea leaves at Newcastle United is no easy task, and I think at this point there is nothing the club could do that would shock me. Pardew fired tomorrow? Ok. Joe Kinnear appointed as caretaker? Why not. Get a shock win over Chelsea? Sure. Lose the next five matches? Possibly. Watch the infighting take over the club? I can see it.
This is leaving me oh so....(dare I say it?) fatigued.