Newcastle the gift that keeps on


How we’ve all laughed at Newcastle football club over the years. They keep telling us what a huge club they are but have spent many a season languishing in a lower division and have won bugger all in most peoples’s lifetime.

The Inter Cities Fairs Cup doesn’t really count as they finished 10th in the old First division the season before and only qualified for the competition because only one side from each city could compete, so the likes of Everton who were 5th and Spurs at 7th were excluded because Liverpool and Chelsea finished higher and took that cities spot. So with West Brom winning the Cup and going into the Cup Winners’ Cup, you end up with the Toon’s first European outing.

Yes there was a period when people liked Newcastle, when Keggy had them playing good football and entertaining in Europe, we would have “loved it” if they had wiped the smirk off Fergie’s puce face. But then we got to know their owners and then Keggy decided he’d had enough and did one of his flounce offs and we had a succession of even more laughable Messiahs. Alan Shearer was elbowing everyone in site and Tony Blair was boasting of his allegiance.

And ever since they’ve given us year after year more laughs than most clubs put together. Fun, fun, fun, from Gullit pissing off Shearer to sacking Saint Bobby Robson to picking Sam Allardyce to the desperation of the Messiah’s return – Keggy was back – to the bizarre replacing of him with Joe Kinnear.

How we all laughed and then they started to plummet and the laughter started harder and then to top it all an even newer Messiah arrived. Of course he made sure he arrived just late enough that when they were relegated he knew all his mates in the media would be able to say it wasn’t his fault, he didn’t have enough time and the damage had been done well before his arrival. But at least it got the dullard off our TV screens of a Saturday night.

But then the fat buffoon in charge of the Toon, actually got something right, he turned his back on plastic messiahs and went for a steadying presence of one time caretaker manager Chris Hughton.

Now Chrissy took a bit of stick in his final days at Spurs, he did always seem to be there when things were going tits up but it’s because he was a loyal servant to the club he represented nearly 300 times between 1977 and 1990 and then as a coach from ’93 to Martin Jol’s sacking in ’08.

And Hughton did the job, when many thought they were going the way of Leeds or Man City when they went down, in other words dropping even further and taking sometime to get back in the top flight, he help them cruise to the League title with 102 points at the first attempt.

And so back but chastened there seemed to be a realism finally surrounding the club, a realism that even stuffing their biggest rivals 5-1 and beating the Woolwich scum away didn’t test. But this is Newcastle and it’s Mike Ashley’s Newcastle so it couldn’t last and after a run without a victory, even though they held the Champions to a draw and had dropped to lowly 12th spot, a whole 7 points off Europe, Chris never really wanted by the owner, as shown by the lack of any decent contract, was gone.

To be replaced by which new Messiah? None other than Alan Pardew.

I know, how the hell did they pull that one off. Well too cheap to go for a real big name and Martin Jol showed a bit of solidarity with his old number 2 after walking out on Ajax and well it was their intention all along and to show it they give him a five and a half year deal. I wonder how long his stay will be, closer to that second part than the first?

Yes when everyone was thinking they were trying to take a step up their only thought was an out of work, lower division manager was at very best a sideways move from the man they already had. A man who after all in their 118 year history starting with a selection committee through 32 managers had at 59.38% the highest winning percentage of all of them – who’ve managed more than 1 game.

And so after a couple of months when they’ve entertained on the pitch it’s back to the off pitch stuff and people who might have been happy to see them back in the Premier League will probably be hoping for a repeat of the last time they were in it.

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