Newcastle United fans feel ‘queasy’ but does that stop them feeling happy?

Newcastle United supporters at Wembley for the EFL Cup final Credit: Alamy
Newcastle United supporters at Wembley for the EFL Cup final Credit: Alamy

Newcastle United fans have never been so vocal in the Mailbox. They are here to defend their Saudi corner.

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A long one on the new Damned United
I’ll admit I enjoyed Matt in Berlin’s response to my mail about how it felt to be a Newcastle fan at the weekend. It ticked all the necessary boxes – an assumption that I’m deluded, a reference to our highly questionable owners and a reminder that other clubs have it worse than we do. We then wrapped the whole rant about the thought police up by policing my thoughts on whether I’m allowed to enjoy us winning, if it ever happens. I assume the implication is that there’s a right and wrong answer there, Matt.

So here’s the other side of the coin labelled Proud Newcastle Fan from the weekend. I considered including a lot of this stuff in my first mail but it did make it read a bit clumsily – fighting talk doesn’t really work when you add a bunch of asterisks to every other sentence.

I’m in my thirties. I felt all of the emotions any other fan would feel, seeing their team in a cup final for the first time in 24 years. But if I do that, I’m a war-crime apologist. So I’m not allowed to feel those things, which feels a little harsh but maybe I’m not allowed to feel that’s harsh either. Anyway, let’s tackle some other points Matt raised.

Firstly, you may not know this but there was this guy who owned Newcastle and took all the hope out of it. Mike Ashley Bad. Other clubs also having bad owners does not imply Mike Ashley Not Bad. It really is that simple. I live in Leeds, I bloody well know they did have it much worse – no argument there. The day they secured promotion was a brilliant day to be here, just to see normal people happy and being happy for them getting their moment. It’s a nice thing! I’d recommend it.

Now, will it be worth it if Newcastle ever win? I don’t know. I’ve never seen us win a major trophy. I don’t know the difference. A very good friend of mine was a Manchester City fan. The day they won the Premier League for the first time, he tells me the emotions were indescribable. Then they won again, and it was… fine but way less good than the first time. It turns out winning all the time is quite boring. Then he started to ask where the money was coming from.

He doesn’t support City now. He did his own research, developed his own opinion, made his own decision. Nobody has ever come and handed him a medal for doing it. There’s no prize for doing the right thing but he’s done the right thing, and now he just doesn’t have a football team. His life is worse, because he still loves football but there’s nowhere to direct that love. Turns out when you support a team because you were born and raised there, it’s tricky to just pick up another one. It’s perfectly possible I’ll go the same way eventually.

Of course I was uneasy when the Saudis took over. My dad’s opinion was “well if they hadn’t bought us, they’d have just bought someone else, and I’m tired of it being everyone else so it might as well be us.” I didn’t agree, but I did get where he was coming from and ultimately both of us are helpless in the decision anyway. Was I dancing in the streets? No. Was I happy to be rid of Mike Ashley? Yes. Does it feel better to have a club that seems to want to restore some pride in the local area? Yes. Would I prefer that to be possible without being bankrolled by an oil state with an agenda? Also yes, but that’s simply not the hand we’ve been dealt.

Ultimately I’m now damned if I do and damned if I don’t, same as every other Newcastle fan. You can have no sympathy for that, you can criticise my position if it makes you feel better – you do you. In Matt’s world, if you’ve ever had it bad you’re best to just keep your mouth shut if anyone else has ever had it worse. Those other clubs who’ve had it bad – I want them to have it good too and even better if it’s in a way that doesn’t leave a nagging doubt in their conscience.

Fine looking high horse, though.
Greg, Newcastle fan in Leeds


…Yes, if we win something, we will celebrate. I’ll celebrate quite hard to be honest – I dread to think what would have happened to me this week if we’d won, considering how rancid I’ve felt the past two days even though we lost.

I’ve never seen either of my teams (Newcastle and England) win anything. I don’t know what the feeling is actually like? I was at Wembley for the Euro final, I was in Hyde park for the WC semi-final, I was in Wembley on Sunday – the euphoria running up to each, especially the latter was incredible, and I am desperate to imagine the feeling of going one step further. And yes, for a generation we haven’t had that opportunity, parking your whataboutery for a sec – we actively avoided the cups, we went on record saying staying in the Premier League was the priority – the club was lifeless and you feel that in the city. Fair enough, many teams wish they had that, but it’s our right to feel how we feel pal, and for a one club city in a relatively starved region both economically and in football, I think we should be allowed to get emotional about our football club and ‘dream’ as you say it. The city thrives off it’s team doing well.

And the comparisons to other teams is all relative. Are we supposed to be constantly happy with the club’s direction because there are clubs worse off? What would you like us to do here honestly? By the same argument I should be furious at Man Utd for celebrating the end of a SIX year trophy drought, but I really honestly couldn’t care less what emotions it stirs for them – each to their own, I just want to beat them.

You despise us, as do other fans? Well fantastic, I am sitting here trying to count how many fans and other football teams I love outside of my own, and I’m struggling. For the record I’d love to see Boro and Sunderland back in the Prem again, I don’t have to like any of them though.
Harry, York Geordie


…The myth that we as Newcastle fans feel like we’ve suffered more than other fans is entirely a media created construct. It’s broadcasters and newspapers that push this agenda. Well done for buying into it though…

Not entirely sure that it’s healthy to despise the fans of any club, but you do you.

For the record, the current ownership of the club is always going to make me feel queasy, but it’s not going to stop me celebrating if we eventually win something.

I’ve seen a lot of people say that they’d walk away if it was their club, which is a very easy thing to say when it isn’t.
Chris Stockdale, NUFC


What’s a fit and proper owner anyway?
I may be a little late to this topic, and doubtless it’s probably been asked before, but humour me here please: what exactly makes the owner of a football club “fit and proper”?

Initially, the expectation would be that the owner is financially viable, right? Then what else? Have a clear plan in terms of how to develop the club sustainably? How to develop the infrastructure and structural hierarchy? Positive community engagement?

Surely an owner, or owners, can do this without being particularly good or nice people? It seems that since the murky oil money and morally suspect billionaires started to throw their hats into the ring, we talk about their ownership not being fit or proper. But why not?

What exactly is the criteria that defines someone as not having the personality or moral credentials to run a club? To what extent is it ok to separate the owners personal activities from their business activities? Can we ever separate them? Seemingly at some point, we will run out of financially viable owners if we reach this point in proceedings?

I am, generally, of the belief that anyone who has the wealth to throw £100 million upwards at a bid for a football club has most likely earned that wealth by being a bit of a C-Bomb at some point in time, perhaps even more often than not.

For example: The new owners of Newcastle United have an appalling record related to human rights in their country. This is beyond doubt. From a moral standpoint, they are on (unbelievably) shakey ground. But it’s hard to argue that in the year or so of owning the club, they’ve not done an excellent job.

The question becomes: how do we separate the two? Can we? And how does an independent regulator strike the balance without damaging the mechanics of the current game?

I just don’t know.
Alex, Madrid


Rebuttal to a Tottenham fan
I just read Chris (btw, what happened to Chris MUFC, haven’t seen him here for ages or did I miss him?), the Spurs supporter’s hilarious break up my points. So, here’s an explainer to Chris. I am not going to go point by point, but specific rebuttals as follows:

On the war – I am sorry, Chris, you need some history brush up and need to see what I wrote clearly. Either you don’t know history or didn’t bother to read what I wrote properly (likely both). I was clear that I hate violence, and it is not acceptable, and the situation in Ukraine is bad and I wish for peace. My annoyance is with Western hypocrisy in general (you know no one talks about the War in Yemen or take it seriously for starters, and guess who supplies a lot of money and support to Saudi?). War, violence is bad everywhere – I voice against it, just not selectively like by the Western politicians/media.

On ESL – I understand, Chris. You support Tottenham. That means misery after misery to the point spursing it is an English term. So money for Daniel Levy run club is paramount to break free of said misery. But I don’t think Chelsea-Roman and Man City needed it. Roman practically lost a million pounds a week for 19 years he owned Chelsea, and the last few years, we were breaking even anyways. It was the other 4 that needed ESL, and FOMO was why Chelsea and City joined ESL. Of course, whatever delusions that make you think we were in it for money alone, continue. After all, we all need whatever gives us sleep, right?

On the so called contradictions on Boehly, vision and my views on Tuchel sacking being bad. So here’s the thing, Chris – long term vision wise, wait, let me explain: investing in infra of stadium, investing in infra around all aspects of club, investing in mens, womens and academy, clear organizational structure design to maximize all of this (hiring of data driven sports science experts, btw Man City are pioneers in this) – all of these point to long term vision, something I really like about Todd and co. But, I can be critical where I see fit – e.g. the ridiculous summer window, the decision to sack Tuchel. New owners, are going to make mistakes (a lot) in a new sport, in a new continent. That doesn’t mean their vision is bad. Whether all work depend on their ability to reduce mistakes and execute said vision well in the long run, and given their success in other sports where they understood things from scratch, I see no reason for lack of optimism. I don’t seen an issue to be critical where I have to be while giving credit where due.

On me not watching football and posting twitter views. I’ve been a regular Chelsea writer in this website since Benitez’s Chelsea won at Everton (and a reader from 2010). I’ve been writing here before I even knew of twitter. Also, given my views that Chelsea-twitter is one of the worst spaces to learn football, that was a ROTFL comment. What happens is while condensing 2 years’ of views in one mail, these things happen. My point is – Tuchel had an identity, the 3-2-2-3 build up play (btw, I was one of the first to quote Cox and write about top teams building in a 5-5 shape as early as 2016/17 season in one of the mailboxes), one of the structurally good things about Chelsea. What Tuchel did was tactical rotations in games to target opponent weakness while maintaining the 5-5 specifically. Under Potter, the elite build up or the structure we had has vanished. Team is confused, with a loss of identity. I get it, Potter wants a fluid team, but fluidity as a second order condition with structure as first order condition for 80% of games is what most top teams do. Without a structure, wanting to be fluid is not going to work out if you’re a top team. Continuity is the key to success when you have top players. That is my issue with Potter. And I don’t need random idiots on twitter to tell me that. I trust my football knowledge to speak about these things!

So, Chris, all in all, banter aside, I wish you a good season and week ahead!
Aravind, Chelsea fan


How do I find the highlights?
Am I the only one that has had real trouble recently finding where to find the highlights programmes for Cup competitions? This week we have the FA Cup fifth round and I’m honestly lost as to where I’m supposed to watch the highlights – no MOTD, no ITV equivalent that I can find – is it showing? Am I supposed to go to Youtube? (I won’t, I’m not 12)

I’m a working dad and I can’t commit to watching everything, and even if I could the games are on at the same time so how are we supposed to keep up?

We had the same thing with the Carabao earlier in the season (and don’t get me started on the UCL ‘highlights’ on the UEFA website, 2 minutes of goals isn’t highlights).

Are we seeing the end of the highlights show or is it just crap programming? (Or just me being old and can’t find things!) If it’s the former then it’s a shame, highlights shows are a perfect pre-bedtime treat with a cup of tea and I’ll miss them if they’re going.


Rovers Return
Great coverage via the Red Button on the BBC tonight for a last 16 FA Cup tie between 2 of the 7 teams to have ever won the Premier League! That is genuine praise with nuance…

Honestly though, so proud of a very young team tonight, it would have been very easy for Jon Dahl Tomasson to have played a youth team due to injuries and the priority of the Play Offs. He went for momentum though, fair play.

For a team that bought the league in the ‘90’s (for the price of a Dominic Solanke) we won a fizzy cup against Spurs but been in the lean times since, due to new owners who didn’t understand football and recruited management without said knowledge.

Hoping that we can emulate Forest last season with a young team, FA Cup run and promotion via the play offs!
Brian (BRFC in case you were wondering)
I totally accept that an occasional fizzy cup and 15-30th best team in the country is our level


Treble talk
To Paul, Manchester on the subject of trebles. Yes, winning a treble comprising a second tier European Cup, a second tier domestic cup and the FA Cup is and will always be a mickey mouse treble, regardless of the club who wins it. This is because the Treble is your own league title (the single best competition to win imo), the Champions League and the main domestic cup. I believe only six clubs have ever done this.
Will I still celebrate like made if United win the treble? Of course I will you muppet.
Samwise, MUFC


…To Paul, Manchester and his comments on the Mickey Mouse Treble:

In 2001, I was a United fan in year 7 and therefore in the perfect demographic to spout that sort of derision to Liverpool fans.

And I vividly remember why: the wording. Liverpool fans were calling it “The Treble”. Not “a” treble but “the” treble.

United’s treble that included the Premier League and the Champions League was very fresh in the mind and therefore Liverpool fans acting like it was on par was just absurd and worthy of mockery.

However, 22 years later (f*ck me what happened?) I would happily celebrate a treble of cup competition victories while recognising it is not the same as the treble United won in 1999.
Silvio (the word treble no longer looks like a real word to me) Dante


…Paul, Manchester I get what you’re trying to do but it just doesn’t work.

Manchester United won THE treble in 1999 – Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup. The top three objectives of elite English clubs.

In 2001, Liverpool won A treble – EUFA Cup, FA Cup and League Cup. Two of these are considered ‘Mickey Mouse’ trophies as they are lesser objectives. Liverpool fans bragged about A treble as if it was THE treble and were rightly put in their place by fans of all other clubs and print media at the time. It became known as a Mickey Mouse treble.

Utd won a cup competition on Sunday and celebrated after 6 years of drought. If Utd win nothing else, or win a double, or a treble (a quadruple is not going to happen) then the club and fans can celebrate success. Just not as much as if they won THE treble.
Simon (Is the Treble police a thing?)


Potter is Chelsea’s Moyes
An overpromoted British coach who was working magic with a mid-tier club but now looks clueless and lacking strategy at a Top 6 club. Am I talking about Graham Potter 2022 or David Moyes 2013?

In another parallel, Everton 2013-14 outperformed United that season as Brighton is doing to Chelsea now.

Trust me I’m a United fan and I know a bad coach when I see one (lots of recent experience).

And as for Potter’s sacking, I bet it won’t happen until Chelsea can’t mathematically qualify for the CL. Moyes had a clause in his contract and was fired the day after it happened. So Chelsea fans, you just have to wait till mid April.
Gaurav MUFC Amsterdam (Instead of £1.75B spend, Abramovich should have included a mandatory coaching change clause)

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