Whenever I look online to see the reaction to Newcastle's situation I tend to sigh. Their past, including legends such as Shearer, Asprilla and the rest, seems to be the only good thing about the club at the moment. Although this season hasn't been the best with a lack of stability and the inexperienced Carver at the helm, surely next season can only get better?
The first thing the fans need to do is know their station. Newcastle aren't a top six club anymore and realistically finishing in the top 10 should be their aim. From my point of view, an onlooker in the States, there's three main areas that need to be addressed if this goal is to be achieved.
As you're probably aware, Mike Ashley is the owner of Supporters Direct and has his fingers in a failing ship up north in the blue side of Glasgow. His time and his money, if he were to spend it on Newcastle, are somewhat divided. Newcastle is the safest investment in his portfolio, though. Although he gets hammered for his tightness and for running the club on a fairly limited budget, the club aren't in terrible financial shape like many others in the country. It may be depressing for fans but in a climate where clubs are struggling left, right and centre and owners with unrealistic expectations seem to be on the rise, surely Ashley's safely does it approach, although painful at times, could be much worse? Of course he needs to add better players and perhaps spend that little bit extra but, realistically, Newcastle are never going to attract the top talent until they become a top four side again. Until then, finding bargains seems to be the way forward. The only issue then is that the club need to try a lot harder at fending off any interest and get the signings right. In recent times there's been far too many duds and players being sold easily.
Other than Kevin Keegan and Sir Bobby Robson, can you name any manager that has been with the club that was considered a success? Outside of Manchester United there have been many top coaches in the Premier League. Alan Pardew was mediocre, nothing more. The club need to find the next big thing, just like on the playing side of things and be progressive and positive in their approach, instead of just opting for a safe and cheap option. It's hard to be successful when you're essentially standing still in your approach and failing to look at alternative options. Surely this summer is the time when Ashley and Newcastle United will adopt this philosophy? One thing's for sure, Carver's certainly not staying. Maybe a young manager with fresh ideas or a manager with experience abroad can come in and reinvigorate the club? Stranger things have certainly happened and the fact Carver was appointed suggests that perhaps that the club are taking their time and want to get the next appointment right.
I touched on this earlier, but Newcastle must re-establish themselves as a shrewd mover in the transfer market once again. The days of Yohan Cabaye and Demba Ba feel like a hell of a long time ago. Far too many average signings have been made in recent seasons, almost as if it's to fill in a few gaps and hope for the best. There's a distinct lack of quality in the squad at this moment in time. Yes, there's the likes of Papiss Cisse and Tim Krul, two fairly well known players, but they don't strike fear into the minds of the opposition, certainly not like Alan Shearer, Asprilla and Gazza used to. The fans want talent and, I'd like to think anyway, realise they can't attract the best players in the world but at least hope to find a gem or two along the way. That process was once in motion but it seems to have well and truly stalled. Something has to give. This approach will surely come to fruition once again, perhaps this summer?
The academy, like many other clubs, needs to be looked at too. It's well documented that England aren't producing the talent they once were and Newcastle need to assess their role in this decline. Surely there's a few good young players that deserve a chance next season? Of course the likes of Dummett have broken in recently, but there needs to be more coming through. Newcastle need to find their soul again and promote from within.
That all being said, think of it logically - outside of a down season or two, Newcastle are a stable mid-table club. I know this season they aren't, but it's nothing more than a blip, for me. The fans needs to keep their expectations real and not shoot for the moon. Keep fighting Toon Army, you're a great club, you've just been mismanaged for so long. Newcastle are in the wrong hands, but it can still be successful to an extent. Mike Ashley is by no means ideal, and him departing could be the answer, but for now he's all there is. Until he goes the fans need to be patient and hope some of things I touched on fall into place. Things can only get better after this season, surely?
By Stephen Brandt – Liverpool fan – @yellowcardSCB