Newcastle’s fervent supporters deserve more from the club’s owner and players
On the final day of the season, away at Villa Park, Newcastle United where relegated by a Damien Duff own goal. One couldn’t have asked for a better metaphor. A fortnight earlier, Newcastle had given themselves a glimmer of hope by beating Middlesbrough at home (subscribers can read about this in my article for the new issue of Prospect).
In their last game they needed just a draw to overhaul Hull City who were playing Manchester United and were expected to lose. Hull did lose, but Newcastle playing with what has become for most of the year their charactersitic torpor, put in a tepid, disjointed, disconsolate performance crowned by the first half own goal that they simply could not recover from. This was a pathetic return for the extraordinary ferocity of support that I witnessed at St James Park.
Newcastle fans can perhaps console themselves that relegation ensures that the collapsing revenues and value of the club make it temporarily unsellable to the foreign vultures hovering over it; but then, by the same token, they remain lumbered with the incompetent, inconsistent and naive ownership of Mike Ashley and his friends. Their management of an era of financial plenty and largesse has been laughable; one shudders to think how they might manage a period of scarcity and recession.
I still can’t decide if Alan Shearer, the fourth manager of the season, is brave or foolish to remain in post. If he can take control of this lot, or at least minimise their influence on the running of the club, it won’t be the pundits couch that is calling him away but the highest echelons of management consultancy.