In which I divide to conquer…

The State of the (NUFC) Union

There’s been a great deal of musing about the fate of this man lately:

Alan Pardew

go on Alan, smile creepier, you can do it…

As ever, it started with the ‘highly connected club sources’ on Twitter, who dole out wisdom on the ‘inside line’ at SJP in toxic, hard-to-swallow portions; 140 characters at a time. Of course, these so-called club sources don’t tweet themselves, no, they talk to the prophets of the modern age, the taxi driver. Dave, 48 from Cramlington has been driving taxis for 20 years and once picked up the club tealady and I’m sure that tells you all you need to know about his qualifications to reach the upper echelons of football, and toon, knowledge.

And yet. And yet there are those who listen to Dave, our taxi-driving false prophet. Those who proclaim ‘the season hasn’t been good enough, Pardew out, Rafa in!’, or more worryingly ‘Pardew out! Somebody in!’ — like the man who steps out into traffic without looking this most pernicious of sentiments has the potential to cause great harm to Newcastle with very, very little upside.

Do you forget your history??

Remember where we were not four years ago, in the direst of straits being relegated from the Premiership and cast aside from the top table of football — destination: certain doom. In the years since then, we’ve won the Championship at a canter with the highest ever (I think..) points total and made a magnificent charge to Europe. Those, however, that forget the past are doomed to repeat it. Let us not forget that we haven’t won a real cup since 1969, and that last year we ran better than every other team in the Premiership and that this year, whilst we most certainly ran bad, we’re closer to our natural position in the league than we were a year ago, that much I know.

Newcastle fans have a reputation and a history of expecting the world, of thinking we’re a bigger club than we are, and so on. I think that’s true of any club, I think any supporter thinks ‘with x, y and z we could push for Europe’, but the micro-focus which being such a storied club in a one-club town brings does rather amplify this affect. Note also that the willingness of Dave and apostles like him to appear on Sky Sports News holding court about the trials and tribulations of being a Newcastle supporter is another magnifier. At the risk of sounding pompous, I do think it matters more here, too.

Football is everything and has an intensity that you simply do not get outside of the North East and Glasgow; regardless of your position on which team you support, it does matter more here and I can’t help but think that the fact that both regions are massively working class is reflected in their respective passions on the terraces. For that alone, I’m proud to be a Geordie and follow the Toon — whatever happens to the Club, there can be no more hypnotic and engaging way to watch and enjoy football. Many of you may recognise also that there is also no more destructive or painful way to watch football either, but one has to take the highs with the lows.

Who Next?

I’m pretty certain it won’t be this guy:

Rafa, pondering his next choice of ‘project’

I don’t think he’d fit into Ashley’s plans to keep the club on a financial even keel, although he’s the only manager I’d swap Pardew for right now — pointless swapping one average manager for another, I think. In any event, the speculation is, in the end, mildly soporific — the only person who knows Mike Ashley’s mind is him, and I’m not convinced he knows what to do. I’d stick with Pardew, but what do I know?

I’m reminded of the great novelist and screenwriter, Willam Goldman, who once turned his acerbic wit to the business of show in Hollywood as a whole and had the wherewithal to say what many had suspected for a long time:

 Nobody knows anything.

I think that’s true of most things, especially football.

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