A Little Bit of History…
Newcastle United has been home to many things over the years; great players, great managers and great matches. It’s also been the home to possibly more false dawns than any other club in the country. So many times, they’ve looked as if they’re going to become a serious challenger for European places and domestic cups, and so many times they’ve fallen by the wayside. The words ‘poor Newcastle’ can be heard the length and breadth of the country.
It’s a huge credit to the devoted Magpie fans that they keep supporting their club with so much passion and devotion, when they’ve had so little to celebrate over the years. They deserve much more.
In the mid-1990’s, it looked as if Newcastle United was the new force in English football. Under the ownership of Sir John Hall, the club invested millions in players, creating one of the best squads in the country. They should’ve won 1995-96 Premier League title; 12 points clear at the top of the table in January ’96 with just 15 matches to play.
Then came the ultimate collapse, a period where they suffered five losses in just eight matches, including the season defining 4-3 defeat to Liverpool on 3rd April 1996, a contest so dramatic, so thrilling and so gripping, that it is still considered the greatest game in the history of the Premier League 25 years later. This extraordinary drop in form opened the door for a resurgent Manchester United to win the league by four points, condemning champions-elect Newcastle United to the runners-up spot.
And that’s about it for The Magpies. Following another second place finish the following season and two consecutive appearances in the FA Cup final (both losing efforts), the club that everyone thought would dominate for years to come slowly ebbed away. Very little fortune, very little glory.
In Mike Ashley, they have one of the most unpopular club owners in the country. Things were okay in the beginning when he bought the club in 2007, but the relationship soon turned sour. A lack of clarity over the direction of the club, rumours that executives were allegedly meddling in team affairs and the sacking of popular manager, and club legend, Kevin Keegan soon turned fans against him. In 2015, he appeared on TV saying, ‘Now it’s to win something – and by the way, I won’t be selling it until I do’. Unfortunately, he then claimed in a separate interview months later that he regretted buying Newcastle United. Not the way to endear yourself to the vast army of Toon fans.
The Season Ahead…
With Steve Bruce in the managers seat since July 2019, Newcastle have a comfortable pair of hands on the wheel. But that’s all; Bruce has been a manager since 1998 and has been in charge at five Premier League clubs, but he’s never led a team to finish higher than tenth in the top tier, and has never won a major domestic trophy. It’s extremely doubtful that he’ll buck that trend at Newcastle.
They have a good squad, with a few quality players. Martin Dúbravka is a fine goalkeeper, despite his much publicised gaffe in the Euro 2020 tournament. It took some time for Miguel Almirón to find the net following his move from Atlanta United, but his work rate could never be questioned. The real fan favourite has been Allan Saint-Maximin (below), the French winger who arrived from Nice in 2019. Whenever he’s on the pitch, he plays with such exuberance and gusto, that you never know what he’s going to do next. He’s become the embodiment of what Newcastle fans, no, all fans, want from a player – play with passion, fight for the team and give everything you’ve got.
On the downside, foward Joelinton arrived with a hefty $55 million price tag, and has struggled to make any impact in front of goal. Newcastle fans often fall head over heels for their strikers, but there isn’t much love for Joelinton right now. A better bet is Callum Wilson, who has impressed since arriving from AFC Bournemouth in September 2020. Plus, he now wears the icon number 9 shirt after Joelinton vacated it, which is probably for the best.
This summer, the club have agreed a fee of $34 million for midfielder Joe Willock to join on a permanent contract from Arsenal, following a successful loan spell on Tyneside. At the time of writing, the 21-year-old midfielder has yet to agree personal terms with the club, so this move hasn’t been completed yet. There have also been rumours that the club have contacted Juventus about the availability of 30-year-old Wales midfielder Aaron Ramsey, but nothing concrete has emerged.
Location Newcastle upon Tyne
Stadium St James’ Park (52,305 capacity)
20/21 Final League Position 12th
Opening Game of 21/22 Season home to West Ham United
21/22 Predicted Final League Position 14th
A great club with great fans, but progress never seems to arrive at St James’ Park. Until the club finds a new owner with real ambition and, dare I say, secures the services of a high quality manager with a proven track record, Newcastle will probably be stuck in the same position.