Life comes quickly to Newcastle United supporters. No sooner had they reared up in Arab headdresses while contemplating the appearance of Kylian Mbappé in the cafes of Jesmond that they had to swallow an exit from the FA Cup at the hands of a club whose previous claim to fame was the completion of 31 games without a win. .
Before we go any further, it should be noted that Sunderland followers have no reason to chuckle; such is their own race to competitive irrelevance that Cambridge United provides routine opposition. Elsewhere, however, laughter was audible. Cambridge’s 1-0 victory was hugely popular. Sympathy for the long-suffering fans in black and white? A distant memory.
The buyout of Newcastle by the Saudi Public Investment Fund resulted in the club being replaced as everyone’s cuddly second team. There are nuances of jealousy attached to that – who wouldn’t want their club to be controlled by an entity worth an estimated $ 500 billion? – but also an element of moral repulsion. Saudi Arabia’s appalling human rights record and its reported involvement in Jamal Khashoggi’s death matters far more than the image of the flags waving in the Gallowgate End.
And steal that they have; the demonization of Mike Ashley on Tyneside was such that you felt like Jack the Ripper would be offered herograms as long as he removed the Sports Direct brand from St James’ Park. “We’ve got our club back” was the cry, as if Newcastle had been bought by the Giants cast from Jossy. A deflated company, so predictable. As Newcastle passed Burnley – Burnley! – On December 4, players engulfed in a relegation battle to the Premier League completed a lap of honor. The dawn of a new era, undermined by subsequent tanking in Leicester.
In Jim Barclay’s absence, Amanda Staveley and Yasir al-Rumayyan – reportedly flanked by bodyguards – delivered a message of support to the beleaguered Newcastle players as their Cambridge counterparts partied. The players, surely, Newcastle would be upgraded in the blink of an eye. The cost of doing precisely that skyrockets with every embarrassment in the field. Newcastle should have had more than enough to beat Cambridge, four points off relegation places in League One, but they’re a side lacking in talent and, more worryingly given the difficult situation on the pitch, character. . Newcastle’s response after conceding Joe Ironside’s goal was more pitiful than the fact that it happened in the first place.
Neither Staveley nor Rumayyan have any experience in running a football club. Despite years spent on the messy deal to buy Newcastle, PIF took office in early October without a manager – Steve Bruce was forced to limp in uninspiring style – or a director of football. Three months later, the Saudis provided Eddie Howe (after a failed attempt to take Unai Emery from Villarreal) a 31-year-old full-back in Kieran Trippier and Nicky Hammond, a recruiting consultant whose performance at Celtic should have sparked balls. alarm long before Hadrian’s Wall.
Howe’s coaching credentials are widely praised, but he’ll admit he’s in a movie that’s totally different from anything that came before him. When West Ham and Crystal Palace can pay players over £ 100,000 a week, Howe’s challenge is to convince individuals of the proper frame of mind and the ability to join a team with a win in 19 attempts to championship is quite clear. Geography has never been in Newcastle’s favor when it comes to transferring business.
It may seem petty to take a hit in Newcastle – a formidable city that is home to passionate and good-humored footballers – at this low ebb, but episodes such as Cambridge provide an opportunity to assess what exactly the Saudis are up to. purchased. And for less money, according to reports in the United States, than the recent acquisition of Real Salt Lake by an investment group.
Newcastle last won the FA Cup in 1955, with the list of those who lifted the trophy from Bolton, West Brom, Sunderland, Ipswich, Coventry, Wimbledon, Portsmouth and Wigan. Newcastle were the last FA Cup semi-finalists in 2000. We are five years from the centenary of Newcastle’s last top-level victory. Newcastle have never won the League Cup; even Luton and Swindon did. There was glory in the 1969 Fairs Cup and the 2006 Intertoto Cup; a tournament long forgotten and one so useless that even UEFA abandoned it.
So much is continually being done about Newcastle’s esteemed past and potential, but this is somewhat undermined by the club’s staggering lack of success. Yet people persist with the bizarre idea that Newcastle is destined or ultra-worthy of fame. Other clubs, like Leicester, actually deliver it.
Fans will blame Ashley’s frugality for recent Premier League struggles, but statistics dating back to the 1950s show the top-five of the elite ending the exception rather than the rule. “Newcastle United deserve to be top of the Premier League,” Staveley insisted in October. It was then as legitimate as it is today to wonder what this assertion is based on, with the exception of a large number of spectators who ultimately do not count much. Football leagues across the world include clubs with huge fan bases that have been inexorably forgotten.
It seems safe to assume that kind of fate will not come to Newcastle. Saudi resources should at least ensure that. However, it is a club that has willingly sold its soul to a rather dubious regime, for so far little apparent advantages. Had Ashley and Bruce been at the helm, the loss to Cambridge would have led to an incredible level of screaming and moaning. Instead, the Toon Army has no choice but to keep the faith. It is an unenviable position.