Saturday, 8 December 2007

They just don't Understand

I spend a lot of time traveling thanks to a job that sees me living in Manchester and working in Birmingham. One of the things that keeps me sane (ish) as I suffer the regular hell of the M6 motorway is listening to Radio five live - a BBC sports and news station. Apart from when Nicky Campbell is presenting the breakfast show - but that supercilious Scotsman is another story... and don't get me started on how Eamon Holmes ruins my Saturday mornings.....

This week has seen a lot of attention on Newcastle United, mainly as I expect that the Southern based press expected the Toon to loose heavily against Arsenal and then sniffed the potential sacking of Allardyce by the time that Nicky Campbell next pollutes the airwaves with his self publicising opinions - oops, there I go again.

Last night there was an edition of 5 Live Sport from Newcastle to discuss the malaise at the Toon. Well, of course they were slightly scuppered as the expected capitulation against Arsenal hadn't happened and its unlikely that Allardyce will be taking up the England/Scotland/Eire job in the near future. Therefore, they drifted back into the lazy stuff about why Newcastle never win anything. The panel consisted of Mick Lowes (a BBC Newcastle match-day reporter) Steve Claridge (ex player, manager) and Gabrielle Marcotti. The ensuing discussion was about what constituted a "Big Club". Lowes suggested that it was due to the level of support and Marcotti kept on suggesting that what defined a big club was the size of the trophy cabinet. The killer statement was from Marcotti when he suggested that Leeds and West Ham were bigger than the Toon because they had won stuff more recently and they had more potential. Needless to say I was shouting at the radio and the people in the lane next to me as I crawled along the M6 at 10 miles an hour started to stare.

Its not that I object to my team being portrayed as a small club - I really don't care, they are the club I support, if they were in the Premiership or the Rymans League... But, its the complete misunderstanding of journalists as to what drives 52,000 people to turn up at St James Park every other week despite not having anything to add to the trophy cabinet for the past 40 years. The reasons for this are legion, just some of them are:-
  • Mis-management of the club by owners over the past 100 years from Westwood to Shepard
  • Linked to the above, panicked managerial appointments (McFaul to Roeder)
  • Linked to the above, poor player purchases (Givarch to Luque)
  • Being just good enough to sit at the top table, but lacking the resources, guile or funds to maintain to win
  • Being a long way from London, and therefore making it difficult to attract overseas quality players
Linked to the last point, Lowes asked Marcotti how often he'd been to Newcastle, he confessed he'd been twice... Twice from a supposed "expert on Premiership football". So, he'd just taken the usual Southern based prejudices and made a few sweeping generalisations. Claridge had more sense, saying that the Newcastle managers job would be the dream job in world football if (and my god that's a big if) Newcastle ever won anything.

Anyway, its Birmingham City today - and no win in the last six games. Those green shoots of recovery that started at Blackburn and have grown a bit more after Arsenal, need to start to bloom....

We'll see.

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