Newcastle United were the 17th richest club in the world after the 14/15 season. They’ve been ranked as the 8th biggest club in the UK. They also have the 14th highest average attendance in Europe this season, despite being in the Championship. These are numbers that are quite astounding in a world where football is the number one sport. It should make you stand up and take notice, and the clubs fans should be proud of what the club actually is.
Yet United’s fans still fear the upcoming meetings vs Brighton, Huddersfield and Reading. Matches they see as “pivotal” for their season. The focus is on who NUFC should look out for in the matches, which battles will decide the encounters and what the final results will be.
There isn’t any talk of how much they’ll win by. Conversations, arguments and theoretical discussions are what takes up the time, with people being scared of betting on their team to win.
The Newcastle United fanbase has large, visible cracks.
That “gung-ho” belief once instilled in them by Kevin Keegan’s football and Sir Bobby Robson’s winning personality has slowly, but surely, been wiped away. Poor managerial choices, attempts at making Newcastle a Sports Direct promoting brand and two relegations has eaten away at the heart of the club.
Hope remains, especially after Rafa’s unlikely appointment, but United remain different. There’s a lack of trust and belief in the team. Supporters are vary of what their owner, Mike Ashley, might do. He simply can’t be trusted and has shown that time and time again. They are careful with what they say, they offer balanced views and have completely stopped taking anything for granted.
What’s wrong with that? Well, it’s not how Newcastle worked when it was in the upper echelons of the Premier League. The culture has dissipated over time. Newcastle were a team that took what they wanted with wholehearted displays.
Gallowgate Flags has initiated a fantastic drive to have some of the atmosphere of old return to St. James’ Park. They put a lot of time and effort into it and it’s massively appreciated across the entirety of the fanbase. There are people there who understand the sentiment of this piece.
Times change and so have the club’s supporters. Rafa Benitez has started something that has given United’s fans more hope than ever. The majority believe in Rafa’s vast experience and managerial skills and he’ll need that support. But that support can quickly turn into pressure if results aren’t as expected. However, that’s not different at any other club. Many would argue that Newcastle fans are a crowd with a high footballing IQ. Opinions differ, sure, but points are always well made. Though it’s some of that political correctness which frustrates me a bit.
United are a big club. Historically, financially and in terms of their number of supporters. The mentality has perhaps become a bit small. It’s a relationship on the mend, and that takes time. Wounds will have to heal, culture has to change and in time, history will be made.
Brighton, Huddersfield and Reading are coming up. All away. By all means a tough set of fixtures. But feelings transmit. It’s my belief that the mentality of the supporters affects the mentality of the players. There’s plenty of impulses to pick up on social media when it comes to that. The fear of failure can become all too great and settle in as a niggling injury. You just can’t quite shake it and an operation is required in the end.
Rehabilitation is already underway, but now comes the next step. The part where you shake the fear of the injury recurring and return to your former self.
You shouldn’t be afraid to hope for nine points through the next three matches. We’re Newcastle United. We’ll take what we want.