That Newcastle show, off the rails [football/soccer alert]

Every so often this blog leaves the higher education world behind and engages with that crazy crazy world of Newcastle United FC. Being a Newcastle supporter can be incredibly exciting at times, but more often than not seems just an exercise in needless masochism.

It is not that Newcastle lose games – all clubs and teams do. It is not that there can be longer periods during which things just don’t go right; that’s what makes being a football supporter such fun. Rather, it is because those who take decisions in the club seem to be so determinedly inconsistent, irrational, amateurish, unintelligent. They buy and sell players at the wrong time, they appoint managers and ‘head coaches’ who seem to have no claim to the role apart from an established recent record of failure, they ban communications with the media to ensure all news coverage is bad, they maintain management structures no one understands and no one can operate effectively. And then they seem totally surprised that none of this works perfectly. And because it hasn’t worked this time and last time and the time before that, they try it again just in case it’s going to work now.

So what have we got? An expensive team that should produce results but whose members stroll aimlessly around the pitch during matches. A ‘head coach’ who seems not to have any sense of strategy or tactics and who comments after the game as if he were just a disappointed supporter, not the leader. An owner of very questionable business practices who seems to measure success for a football club with quite different metrics from the rest of us.

What needs to be done? Well, whether he is a nice man or not, the club needs to part company with Steve McClaren. It is abundantly clear that he cannot do the job. It needs to appoint in his place someone whose availability is not occasioned by a string of recent failures in other places. It needs to develop and keep to a clear strategy of battling and (when possible) winning on the field, not on the financial spreadsheets. It needs ambition,  swashbuckling determination, a sense of adventure.

But beyond Newcastle, club football needs to return to being just that. Much of the fun went out of the sport when it became a money game measured by the depths of the owners’ pockets (and strategic common sense). I’m normally all for free enterprise, but actually not in this setting. Football should be a game played for and on behalf of the supporters, not the oligarchs now dominating it. Clubs should be owned by those supporters. It is time to re-socialise football.

Explore posts in the same categories: society, sport

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10 Comments on “That Newcastle show, off the rails [football/soccer alert]”

  1. Vincent Says:

    Be amusing to see José Mourinho up there.


  2. How about switching your allegiances to Hull City FC, Ferdinand or even Aberdeen FC?

  3. anna notaro Says:

    Funny how quick one is in considering brave, *radical* alternatives (re-socialisation) and denounce free enterprise when it comes to sport, as opposed to other fields, say politics or HE. Football is only a game, of course…


    • Well, everything in its proper place. Enterprise is about trade and resources. Football is about the community.

      • Anna notaro Says:

        Not sure I agree with that, the areas I mentioned (politics, HE are equally about *community*), my point was that conceiving of football as some kind of special case where the structures of capital which underpins all our social activities do not apply is a wee bit disingenuous. Then again our passions do blind us to the obvious, occasionally..

  4. Chris Moule Says:

    As a football fan myself (Liverpool and the mighty Ross County) I was interested to read your post and agree that Steve McClaren’s time must now come to an end. It is painful to see such a massive club completely rudderless. Many ex-toon greats will be as fed up as Alan Shearer each week on MOTD. The rich benefactor has truly taken the soul out of the game at the top level, which is frustrating for grass roots fans. Although I understand that Swansea Supporters Trust own 20% of the club and maybe new ownership models could bring about positive change. Finally, your post reminded me of a BBC article I read a few years ago and I thought I would share it…
    http://m.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/21058754

    Ps. Come on County for Saturday’s League Cup Final. (Local population 6000)

  5. Andy Carr Says:

    Hey. It’s only football and not at all important!


    • Bill Shankly: ‘Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.’


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