The national media love to portray Newcastle United fans as misguided moody maniacs who are only capable of experiencing two different emotional states; either getting carried away with thrilling thoughts of imminent success or, more commonly, despondently wallowing in the throes of a deep depression brought on by the turmoil and turbulence that seem to permanently surround the club. It’s either doom or gloom, joy or sorrow and there’s never a middle ground.
Sure, there are some fans like that and Sky Sports News are never short of rabid simpletons eager to have their say but, for the most part, I like to think that we are a reasonable and rational bunch. Gone are the days of sweeping statements, broad generalisations and knee-jerk reactions. One bad defeat doesn’t necessarily imply crisis, just as a few impressive results shouldn’t lead us to believe that all is rosy in the garden.
In recent months I’ve been very vocal about my disdain for Mike Ashley’s regime and while recent wins over the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur were welcome surprises, they don’t really make any difference to the overall landscape of the club. They may well just prove to be flashes in the pan; highlights in an otherwise murky and forgettable season, or, of course they may not. Time will tell. Truth be told, it doesn’t really matter because if this team somehow manages to match the heroics of the side that finished fifth two seasons ago, it’s safe to assume that another season of toiling in the Europa League would not be welcomed – neither by the coaching staff nor at boardroom level.
So, what are we, as a club, playing for? More to the point, what are we, as fans, paying for? That’s the question on everybody’s lips after yet another early FA Cup exit and that’s what Mike Ashley needs to clarify. For some unknown reason he refuses to communicate and he seems determined to alienate the fan base and to keep us guessing. Some of his actions, of course, have spoken louder than any words could and having weighed up all the evidence, I had taken it as a given that he is simply using the club as an advertising vehicle for his retail empire.
Then, however, when we’d all resigned ourselves to the fact that Ashley is just taking the mickey and exploiting us all, the club announced ambitious and impressive plans to plough millions of pounds into the re-development and expansion of the training centre… and it got me thinking again. Maybe, just maybe, somebody hidden deep within the bowels of St James’ Park knows what they’re doing and does actually have the club’s best intentions at heart… then again, maybe not. January’s transfer dealings will tell us more.