I don’t know about other Newcastle United Fans, but I went to bed last night with the nerves and excitement I had as a child on Christmas Eve.
I liked Steve McLaren, at the start. He just seemed like a nice old man – a nice old man who was going to mop up all the mess at the club, and restore a smidgen of pride to football in the North East. Alas, he did quite the opposite.
You can’t blame him for the poor signings, as nobody really knows what level of control he has over them, but he is culpable for the way he has used these players.
And for the poor tactics.
And for the lack of drive and passion within the team.
And for starting Riviere against Bournemouth.
And for leading us to an alarming 19th position in the Premier League.
Apart from those little, tiny problems, he has been exemplary.
I actually feel a little sorry for the guy. His career has been very up and down, and I think this one is going to sting for a while. So thank you, Steve, for coming up to Newcastle and giving it a go, but I don’t think you are quite cut out for this gig. The devastating decline of his Derby County team at the end of last season, when they seemed to be headed for promotion, should have been a warning sign for the board.
NOW, lets look ahead to the future. Rafa Benitez is now the manager of Newcastle United, on a three-year-deal. RAFA BENITEZ. He was Real Madrid manager a few months ago, and now he’s going to be living in the North East. Not Spain, but England. Not Madrid, but Newcastle. Why has he done this? I have to say, Newcastle United have surpassed themselves here. How on earth have they persuaded him to come here. He’s one of the best managers in the world. It’s madness. What a signing.
Newcastle fans will be hoping that with Benitez at the helm, our club will be saved from the apocalyptic freefall that we’ve found ourselves in.
I have some reservations, however. We aren’t in the Champions League; we’re in a relegation scrap. This is a situation that will be rather alien to Benitez. We’ve upgraded from a Citroen C1 to a Rolls Royce Phantom, but is our garage big enough to handle it? (No innuendos intended here, I promise).
I went through Rafa’s managerial record, and found something interesting. His only experience of being at the bottom of the pecking order was in 1999 with Spanish side Extremadura. They had been promoted to the first division under Rafa, but were relegated the next year. I’m sure Benitez will have learnt a lot from that experience, but that was nearly 20 years ago! There’s no doubt that relegation scraps are not his speciality.
Saving Newcastle United will be one of the biggest challenges of Rafa Benitez’s career, and I whole-heartedly wish him the best of luck.
I remember 2009.
I remember that game against Aston Villa. I remember Gareth Barry’s 20-yard shot seven minutes before half-time that deflected off Damien Duff into the back of the net. I remember the tears in the fan’s eyes. I remember the sickening look on Alan Shearer’s face. We cannot go through that again. Think of the players that would leave, the money we’d lose and the effect that relegation would have on the region, let alone the football club itself. It’s said a lot, but football really is a religion up in Newcastle. It is more important than just about anything. Perhaps we need to sort out our priorities…
But until then, an angel has dropped down from heaven to save us.
Lets not fuck it up.