In today's day and age of the Twitterverse, News Feeds, Streaming, etc. it's very easy to get caught up in the emotion of certain situations and make what some might call a "rash judgement." In the wake of the current situation with the Enrique fines and the Battle of Barton, some might paint Tyneside as a bleak place right now (though the inclement weather, abject poverty, and Geordie Shore certainly also contribute). It's become remarkably facile to throw the all-mighty pointer finger strait at a certain overweight cockney. This, however, is not what the responsible, thinking fan (i.e., Members of CHN) should do. Instead, we should look deeper at the ominous "Board" of NUFC, and it's Cerberus like trifecta of Mike Ashley, Derek Llambias, and Alan Pardew, after the jump.
Now, before we get crazy, let's make sure we understand a little bit of history, in particular, this history. Kind of speaks for itself if you ask me. The facts of the matter are that Newcastle found themselves in some serious debt, and Ashley has repeatedly bailed the club out of debt with personal loans, ones which I believe he is entitled to recoup. As the BBC reported here, Ashley was apparently left very much in the dark on the state of fiscal affairs at the club, and the somewhat schizophrenic nature of his first few years at the helm, I believe, are a result of that. Multiple times, responding to fan pressure, Ashley put the club for sale, and multiple times, he couldn't find a suitable buyer to handle the massive amount debt. Since about halfway through the Championship season, Ashley seems to have resolved himself to swallowing the club's fate and fortunes and has tried to make the best of it.
The manager carousel also seems to have stabilized. Kevin Keegan was an amazing coup by Ashley and then Chairman Chris Mort in the early days of Ashley's takeover, and it seemed like a magical honeymoon at first. Keegan, much like Joey Barton and Jose Enrique Sanchez, then criticized the board, demanding more funds, and promptly resigned when repudiated. Then the chaos of 2008-2010 ensued, one of the darkest times in NUFC history. From Kinnear to Shearer, relegation to attempted club sales, things were genuinely bleak in Newcastle. When Hughton was given control, suddenly there was a light at the end of the tunnel. Chris Hughton really does deserve so much of the credit and reverence we give him at Tyneside, especially given how horrible the front office was at that time. That being said, it was never really "his" team, as the manager, while important, is not the owner. I don't think Ashley or Llambias ever really intended to keep Pardew long, and even though that may seem a bit sleazy and grimy on the surface, but in retrospect, it was a completely acceptable professional decision to make. (Let me be clear, I still LOVE Chris Hughton, as I think most Toon fans do, but I'm just saying I've learnt to deal with the decision).
And then, there was this man:
I mean look at him. The soft eyes, the playful smile, the shiny grey hair that just exudes experience and expertise. He is everything you could want in a manager: a lovely playing career at Palace and Charlton, decent managerial experience (is that a Carling Cup Final I see?), a good working relationship with the players, an eye for experimentation, ambition, and of course, a guy who was once described by the BBC as a "dangerous and distant animal."
To boot, Pardew was apparently good friends with Llambias well before the hiring, which may be seen as favoritism, but I look at it as a huge advantage in dealing with the front office of a top 5 club (size wise, anyway). Pardew has built in political clout with Ashley (the contract) and Llambias (the friendship) and as far as I can tell, he has parlayed that beautifully during his tenure. The three headed monster that makes up Newcastle leadership now may still be somewhat volatile, but with Pardew there to absorb some of the issues, I have little doubt things will get better, both fiscally and on the pitch.
Which brings us back to the players. People have been interpreting Ashley's decision-making as emotional backlashes from hurt feelings. While there may be a tad of credence to that, I still think the man is a smart business player, and understands that to win you need a central objective from top to bottom. Kevin Keegan didn't fit that objective as a manager, whereas Andy Carroll did fit it as an asset. Joey Barton and Jose Enrique don't fit that objective any longer as players, whereas the new boys like Yohan Cabaye and Sylvain Marveaux do, and players like Fabricio Coloccini, Cheik Tiote, Shola Ameobi, and the Taylors have all kept their mouths shut and followed their leader, to decent results at that. I firmly believe that Pardew, Llambias, and Ashley are now all finally on the same page, and that is a huge deal in today's scary, cruel world of professional football. Under their leadership, I think Newcastle will accomplish both of their objectives: win trophies and make money. They are, as it were, cool considerate men:
Cool Cool Considerate Men - 1776 (Restored Director's Cut - 1972) (via FallingRain123)
In looking at the current situation, I am reminded of some the turmoil Chelsea and Inter went through in the early days under The Chosen One himself. Mourinho was ruthless in creating the teams that HE wanted on the pitch, even if it meant making some excruciatingly tough sales (like Crespo, Ibrahimovic, and Adriano), and I think Pardew is moving in that direction. In Mourinho's final brilliant season at Inter, the club spent an astounding 33 Million Euros worth in transfers. Even more astounding though, they brought in an incredible 55 Million from sales! Now, of course, selling Barton on a free is not exactly in that mold, but one of Mourinho's central leadership tenants is "stand like a rock." Barton no longer fits the Newcastle mold that Cerberus has envisioned... good riddance.
One more quick note on the loathe that Ashley receives on a consistent basis. While some of it seems genuine and well founded in logic and rationality, but a lot of it is somewhat alarming xenophobic jargon. The fact that Ashley is not from Tyneside is a sticking point with fans, which seems shortsighted, idiotic, and a little racist/classist. You can find plenty of people who are simply worried about the bottom lines of "GET ASHLEY OUT" like here and here. There is something fundamentally weird to me about people who have such irrational hatred. Remember, without him we may not have a club, at all. The question we always have to ask is: where would we be without him?
Keegan is gone, Shearer is gone, Carroll is gone, Nolan is gone, Barton is gone, Enrique is almost gone, and Jonas Gutierrez may be on his way out too. And yet, the sky is still that bleak hideous shade of stormy weather that it always is over St. James' Park. Newcastle is still standing. And even though Barton acted like a holier than thou douchebag by tweeting about the colors of NUFC and their honor... he isn't wrong. The black and white are still strong, the Toon Army is still united. I wish sometimes we were united more in our love of the club than our undeserved hatred of our owner, but we are united all the same. In spite of our recent Twitter turmoil, I am still confident in Pardew's ability to bring results to our club, with new players or without. At least now, we have a front office that is Newcastle United: