Newcastle United are heading into the Championship. After Saturday’s 3-2 defeat at Norwich, it’s sadly inevitable, although plenty would argue it was coming way before that result and, personally, I tend to agree. So what exactly has gone at the club?
Well, where do I start? As a season ticket holder of 24 years I can endlessly rant about the various issues surrounding the club, usually concerning owner Mike Ashley as he is essentially the man behind all of this, but for me the players really need to take responsibility. According to a sports betting website I checked, Newcastle are odds on for the drop, unsurprisingly. The first team need to to start asking themselves why.
Steve McClaren was a likeable bloke and, as well documented since his departure, a very good coach, but his leadership and managerial credentials always seem to be questioned wherever he goes. Can he really inspire a group of players? Will they, sorry to use a cliché, run through brick walls for him? Is he brave enough when it comes to making tough decisions? Ultimately, in my view, the answer to those questions is probably no, but the players need to ask themselves why they didn’t respond to him also. They probably saw him as the perfect man for them to take advantage of and just stroll through the season without any real fuss being kicked up.
The strong sense within the Toon Army is that regardless of who’s in charge, Rafa Benitez included, the players simply don’t care. In an era of football where inflated transfer fees and wages are rife (see Townsend and Shelvey), and egos are bigger than ever, players just don’t seem to be up for the fight like they used to be. They don’t care, they aren’t connected with the club and the fans, like professionals used to be, and, certainly in our case, they’re just mercenaries picking up a huge wage every week and planning what designer handbag to buy the wife on the weekend.
Make no mistake, there’s no real players the fans love at the club and there’s nobody I personally can relate to. For a working class club like Newcastle United and a city built on values that require hard work and fight, it makes for an incredibly depressing watch. At least in the past when we’ve been relegated previously we just simply weren’t good enough. That, I can accept, but the lack of effort, fight and passion just leaves me thinking every single one of them can leave and we may as well start from scratch. It’s disgusting, really.
The club is in the wrong hands, everyone knows that, but there’s a few clubs that are in the same position regarding ownership issues, yet they still produce the goods and the players still give their all, especially when the going gets tough.
Moussa Sissoko can be great when he wants to be, Tiote’s head has undoubtedly been turned, the likes of Perez and Janmaat have faded dramatically and, to top it all off, there’s a distinct lack of leaders in the team. Arguably the only one who shows any sort of passion and commitment is Mitrovic, and even he’s been fairly disappointing overall, but he’s just a kid.
Perhaps this can’t be levelled at Newcastle United solely, but modern footballers simply don’t care most of the time. Gone are the days when players really felt a connection to a club and really genuinely cared. Nowadays, it strikes me it’s about getting a balance of those who’ll lead the team and play with a sense of pride every week, as there obviously are some, and those players can then galvanise the others who potentially aren’t at it all the time. But in Newcastle’s case we’ve got a batch of players who all can’t be bothered, who’s heads drop incredibly easily and who probably planned their next move at Christmas.
It doesn’t matter who’s in charge of Newcastle United, we’ve just acquired a horrendously pathetic squad of supposed professionals who should be utterly embarrassed at the way things have gone this season. Modern footballers, eh?
By Matt Berwick - Newcastle fan