Guess that’s how politicians feel?
You are told what you should be thinking, how you should be thinking, when you should think it, and whatever choice you make, for many you are 100% wrong.
Newcastle United is my football club. It’s my father, his father and his father. One step down on the family tree is an uncle who lives on the other side of The Town Moor and can hear St James’ Park when he rocks, which hasn’t happened much lately. Uncle Bill was going there every week, then Mike Ashley arrived. Joy and hope gradually stifled the natural enthusiasm. He keeps his subscription, even if every year it’s a thoughtful decision.
And now. Now what?
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There is no equation to calculate the level of angst, apathy, utter contempt of Newcastle fans for Mike Ashley who has bathed in the financial lubricant of the Premier League for 14 years.
Yohan Kebabs, JFK (Kinnaer, not Kennedy), Dennis Wise, Nacho Gonzalez, Wonga, Sports Direct Park, Shearer’s bar, Blanking Shearer, Rafa walks, Hughton sacked, Pardew’s header, Jonas Gutierrez’s cancer and two relegations . And that only scratches the surface, beneath which lies a cave full of heartless stories that have sucked the soul of a football club in a city full of hearts that beat strongly when Newcastle United won.
It’s illogical, given the struggles and the joy the rest of life can bring, but in every city around the world there are examples where football is life. Newcastle is an extreme example.
Winning the record championship made a man happy. Has he wanted to sell for a decade? In theory only. Did he save the club? Herein lies the misconception under which Ashley operated. What if the club goes bankrupt? He could be docked at 100 points or sent to the National Northern League for days of derby against Blyth Spartans and there would still be a club and people to back him up, long after we’ve all crumbled to dust. Thank goodness this man left our club.
If Mike Ashley was still the owner, a third relegation was more likely than not. Steve Bruce may have been sacked, but the replacement would inherit the same issues. Change the driver, but if the car is a piece of crap, the car is a piece of crap.
Newcastle made a liar of all modern statistics last season. Expected objectives and others? Bruce-ball danced around them, Allan Saint-Maximin’s unpredictability, the bigger club-worthy prowess of Callum Wilson and Joe Willock on loan are key factors in an end-of-season push that has snatched the 12th position.
This Premier League revival has fewer poor teams, of which Newcastle is most certainly a part.
And in 24 hours, a switch operated by two Arab states compromising TV rights, everything changed. Everything about Newcastle has changed. About inevitability, about the club, about the city, about the latent wait. Suddenly by far the richest club in the world, in what is by far the richest league in the world.
66 years since a national trophy, and look over there at the last club that it happened to; Manchester City.
Even after days of reading about managerial availability, or watching that simulated FIFA video of a team of Ronaldo, Messi, Mbappe and, most importantly, Kante, or hearing the story that there are 13 000 agents worldwide and 10,000 of them would have been in contact with the club by now, the possibilities are unfathomable.
The trap, however, is far from negligible.
Some dressed as Thawbs and celebrated in front of the statue of Sir Bobby Robson. Some got completely drunk, #cans, and all that.
Some, like me, have thought deeply, with #cans of course because 14 years of frustration is worth having #cans for.
Everyone; you, me, the neighbor, australia of the ruling family of saudi arabia, has a past. And now when it comes to football their shadow is mine. A CIA report on the murder of a journalist is a factor. Lots of tips from all points of view online too. And yet I always come back to a question. How is it my fault?
Protesting against this takeover is like protesting against a sunrise.
The private ownership of a world famous league, its obscene wealth multiplying with the seasons, will attract the biggest checkbooks. These meetings in the early 1990s about changing the way England’s Premier League operate are the footballing equivalent of geologists digging in sand for oil in the 1930s.
This Newcastle United transaction, decided by so few, affects a lot. From my point of view, steeped in cognitive bias, there is a lot of hope.
Hope the owners treat the city well. They will invest millions to bring in a new manager and new players, but the most telling appointments will be those that bring world-class football. The right CEO, the right football manager, the right scouts listening to the right agents who represent the right players to rebuild a club, not just build a team. It took three seasons for Manchester City to win a title after the resumption. I would take a delay three times that if that meant an air of durability was rising above all else.
The mismatch between local football in Tyneside and what goes on inside this oddly shaped stadium every other weekend is yawning. Fix it. Start treating everyone in the club well, after the last guy took out the canteen staff pensions to pay player bonuses. These are the stories that bounce in a city, which we talk about in pubs and bridge clubs, far from being a title.
Investing in football comes with a spotlight. This shadow which is now my shadow? He’s rightly more exposed than he was last week.
Investing in Newcastle is different from investing in Saudi Arabia in Facebook, Uber, and Boeing. I would like to think that fans of a football club who are not known to hold back their feelings will react differently to Mark Zuckerberg if the CIA were to start filing reports again.
From watching your team run aimlessly at the wolves to an increased interest in geopolitics and CIA reporting.
Far, it’s been a week.
As casual as it sounds, I just want to watch my team play some great football and no matter where it leads, so be it.
It could take us to Wembley Way, and an explosion of joy has been brewing for decades, like when Manchester City beat Stoke to win the 2011 FA Cup final.
My father turned 82 on Friday and woke up to the news. His brother, Uncle Bill, is a few years older. My son is 16 and a number ten with black and white stripes hangs on his bedroom wall.
The deep thinking of the past few days leads to a possibility: All four of them seated at a Cup final, the older two talking about how much their father loved Jackie Milburn, and why Newcastle, whatever the situation, will be a part of us. .