Toon Takeover: Time to reflect
Thursday, October 7th. A time like never before for the Geordies.
What a few months it’s been in the Toon. After 14 long, dismal, disappointing years, and numerous failed attempts at takeovers, Mike Ashley’s long awaited departure from Tyneside was fulfilled. He said goodbye, and handed the keys over to the Saudi Led Consortium, with businesswoman Amanda Staveley playing an integral role in making it all happen.
Photo Credit: Newcastle United FC
The takeover saga had been ongoing for months, with the Saudis showing interest from early 2020. The Owners’ and Directors’ test was taking its time, with many showing their views of disgust and outrage at the possibility of this takeover occurring. The prolonged process caused the consortium to pull out of the deal. It was back to square one for the Newcastle fans - same old, same old.
But the Consortium returned, and this time for good. Many debates and discussions were necessary to deem the takeover safe and secure. And on October 7th, fans received confirmation of the Premier League’s assurance the Saudi state would not be in control of the club. The takeover was complete.
The Toon erupted. The scenes captivated everyone on Tyneside. Everyone was overcome with joy after waiting many long, painful years for this, we had stuck by our club through the good times and the bad. Everything was becoming clearer - the looming, thunderous clouds over the Toon were finally beginning to fade, and we could see the future becoming bigger and brighter - all in all better. We have owners that care for the club, owners that are willing to insert large finances into our club, owners that desire for us to be successful, like we once were. Newcastle United, the best club in the world, we’re worthy of our place in the Premier League - the world’s best footballing league.
Although, it has not come without widespread controversy and criticism, with Amnesty International aiming to prevent ‘sportswashing’, and believing the poor human rights record in Saudi Arabia has not been addressed. They have urged the Premier League to update its ownership rules.
The first game of our new era came against Tottenham Hotspur, and was seen under the prying, watchful eyes of 52,214 fans packed into St James’ Park, and our new owners. What an atmosphere, and that was instantly felt by the players too - Callum Wilson scored the opener in the second minute of the game. Cue the wild celebrations. They were short lived, however, as Spurs swiftly took the lead, and it finished 3-2 to Spurs. The game was overseen by devastating circumstances, which saw Newcastle United supporter Alan Smith suffer a cardiac arrest in the stands. The players were tremendous in getting play stopped and sending help his way. Alan is doing well and recovering at home; he returned to St James’ for a recent fixture.
In the events that followed, 13 days after the takeover was complete, Steve Bruce was sacked, with his job already hanging in the balance long before the longly anticipated takeover. In came Eddie Howe, ready to face the firing line in the fortress that is St James’. A young, hungry manager - a good appointment? Time will tell.
Currently though, he’s got a mountain to climb. This season we’ve only had one win, coming against fellow strugglers Burnley. Performances, such as the Manchester United game, gave hope. We need to be more clinical in front of goal, which is easier said than done. The Norwich game was another bitter disappointment, with the early red card ending all of our hope. We have struggled all over the pitch - our defence has been poor all season, switching between a back four and a back five, and constant changes in personnel don’t help either. Attacking wise, we have some good players, but we can never catch a break with injuries, and when Callum Wilson doesn’t play, we really miss him, and you can really tell. The box is empty; nobody makes runs, picks the right pass or shows desire or impetus to get in there. One positive though, is the re-embellishment of Brazilian Joelinton, he’s made amazing improvements under Howe. As previous performances show, that’s why we paid £40 million!
January 1st - the transfer window is open! We have a chance to invest in the players we want, and players that will add that quality we have been lacking all season. And the first signing of the new era didn’t disappoint either - Kieran Tripper signed from Atlético Madrid for £12 million. He has Premier League experience, which is vital, and he is a top quality England right-back, who featured at the 2018 World Cup and the recently delayed European Championships. He’s a great signing!
Photo Credit: Newcastle United FC
Next in, was Chris Wood, for £25 million from Burnley. I didn’t expect this at all, it rather came out of the blue. However, it’s still a good signing - he’s netted ten or more goals in his previous four seasons at Burnley. Only three this season though, but there’s plenty of time to change that! Tactically thinking, it’s a very clever signing too - effectively weakening the opposition in a struggling Burnley side. His aerial presence will be massively felt; Joelinton is also ranked fifth among top-flight forwards in the Premier League for aerial duels won this season. And when Wilson is fit, this trio could be deadly in the air, braving and bullying the defenders. This sets up tantalising prospects for the near future, and will hopefully reflect on the scoresheet too. Kieran Trippier and Chris Wood link up, anyone? And with twelve days left of the transfer window, who else can we get in the nick of time?
Disappointment at St James’ though, with the calamitous and catastrophic Cambridge result dealing a hammer blow, a humiliating defeat that will have really hurt the dressing room. We’re suffering a defeat off a Cambridge side of League One - how can we let that happen? The FA Cup is a great spirit-lifter, it was the glowing light on what’s been a bleak and miserable season, but we put it out instantly with that abysmal performance. Even new signing Kieran Tripper couldn’t dig us out of that hole.
Fans are not asking for miracles - we’re not expecting to be winning the Premier League or the Champions League anytime soon. But what we are hoping for, is progress in the right direction; with the help of our new determined owners, our new buys in January, our young, attacking manager, Eddie Howe, and the best fans in the world, without doubt we can achieve it. We just have to be patient, and overcome this sticky situation in front of us right now - the relegation fight, yet that will not be easy by any means.
But doesn’t it feel nice to say, fellow Newcastle United supporters, that we finally have our club back?