Remember the excitement when Alan Shearer was through on goal, before slotting home his record breaking goal? Remember Tino Asprilla’s hat-trick against Barcelona? Remember Kevin Keegan leaving St James’ Park in a helicopter? Remember Philippe Albert’s delightful chip against Manchester United? That was the real Newcastle United, not this imposter we see now.
The Newcastle United of present is a broken, soulless club with a lack of identity and direction. Going nowhere fast and aspire to nothing. A crumbling St James’ Park, even with the half hearted attempt to spruce it up with a lick of paint, if you look closely the cracks remain. Supporters are like lambs to the slaughter, taking to their seats for 90 minutes of pure horror.
The real Newcastle United didn’t have to give away 10,000 tickets to fill the stadium, in a bid to mask the issues at the club with a capacity crowd. In fact, there used to be a long waiting list for season tickets. The Newcastle United of old didn’t have to rely on three other teams somehow being worse to avoid yet another relegation.
Newcastle United are Sports Direct FC. Awful working conditions, employees who are unhappy and fed up, desperate to leave for something better. St James’ Park is a huge advertising board for Mike Ashley’s only love. Sports Direct signs everywhere, there’s even one on the roof.
Newcastle United was once a wonderful club, a club with identity, soul, passion and ambition. St James’ Park roared louder and louder each week, now you can hear a pin drop - The supporters have lost their voices, lost their passion and have had the soul beaten out of them by a man who couldn’t care less about the club, a man who just so happens to own it.
Takeover story after takeover story, lie after lie, threatened boycott after threatened boycott, Newcastle United are hard to love and have been since Ashley bought the club. Ask any of the hierarchy what their vision or plans are for the club and you’d get a muted response, vision and plans mean you have an interest, you have a sense of ambition to move forward - That is not in Newcastle’s current vocabulary.
The devastating thing is Newcastle United can be great again. The club is the true definition of a sleeping giant. It’s a sad state of affairs when supporters are OK with simply surviving in the Premier League, being thankful for three worse teams to get them out of trouble.
It's more of a chore to watch Newcastle United this season, a feeling of “If I have to go, I will” or “I have nothing better to do” that’s reflected in the zombie like atmosphere. This is by no means the fault of Steve Bruce, a man thrown in at the deepest of deep ends with no lifeboat in sight. Bruce somehow managed to steady what many saw as a sinking ship. Though, after another alarming defeat Bruce is back in the trenches again, praying for some support.
Newcastle may just survive by the skin of their teeth this season, it’s hard to imagine what the next campaign will bring. Will the club give away more tickets so the TV cameras give the false impression that everything is well at the club?
Remember when Keegan stood on the steps explaining his decision to sell Andy Cole? What’s that called? It’s been so long since the club have done it, oh yes, communication! Supporters are constantly left in the dark, constantly ignored and the club foolishly wonder why some have taken the decision to walk away.
Supporters have been taken for granted for far too long. They are the ones that suffer, players and managers come and go - The supporters are the one constant. Without supporters there simply isn’t a football club.
Ashley has destroyed a once great football club, surrendered it to its knees. Beating and kicking it until it cannot take any more.