There was an article in The Telegraph last night entitled: "Has Steve McClaren formed a team #NUFC supporters can love again?" It made me think....
Although a season ticket holder, I no longer live in Newcastle and am therefore surrounded by fans of other clubs. Whenever I've been talking football this season I've found myself in quite a surreal position. It goes something like this (do you recognise any of it?)........
On McClaren I've repeatedly found myself defending him, saying 'to be fair the football is far better than the hoofball we played under Pardew and we've mostly been playing better than our position suggests (think Arsenal / Watford / Chelsea / Mackems)." And don't forget the Carver mess.
McClaren wants his Newcastle United to play 'football'. Playing out from the back with even the goal kicks going short now. I don't even mind the Mbemba pass back for West Ham's goal on Saturday (probably as it didn't cost us any points). Mbemba could have smashed that ball into row Z the way he was facing, but he is trying to play the right way. It's the same right way that lead to our first goal whilst some of the passing a movement in that game was the best I've seen for a decade.
On Ashley, yes it's far too late but over £50m in the summer and £17m so far this window. I realise he's just trying to protect his investment but hey, others aren't spending that sort of cash. Is credit finally due or is it a case of 'one swallow does not a summer make'. I shall now write words like 'stability' and 'sound footing' as these are mandatory at this point. You get the point. Hate him or hate him, the money has been there this season.
And as for players, how is it that we are 4th bottom (could be worse by the end of the day) and yet in my footballing heart I am genuinely starting to lift players back into hero status again?! Not since Cabaye and HBA before him have I been so heartwarmingly excited to the point I can't wait to see someone pull on the black and white stripes. Only this time it's becoming silly as I almost have a list.
Think of the Newcastle of recent seasons and Wijnaldum doesn't belong here. I mean, he's bloody brilliant. And then there's Mitrovic. How can any Geordie fail to watch with joy as he celebrates another player scoring a goal like it was his own - and as for when he scores himself, I seriously worry the lad might just explode! Cult hero in the making right there. And what about Perez, he seems to genuinely give a monkeys and to play like he has done, at his age, and with all the pressure the club have put on him is a huge credit to the lad. Now Shelvey too might just be another one we end up calling 'one of our own'. Yes, I know it's one game and the lad obviously has issues but don't tell me you've not already thought it!! I know you have. Mbemba and Janmaat too, surely the so called 'big clubs' must have looked at them and thought they'd missed a trick. Even Sissoko seems half bothered (there is a back handed compliment in there somewhere), Colo has remembered he can play again, and Elliot continues to defy the laws of physics in moving that massive frame of his through the air like some kind of out of shape ex superhero.
Most of me just doesn't understand this feeling I have for NUFC right now. And I'm almost trying not to enjoy what I'm seeing. Yep, we are 4th bottom after all and how stupid is this going to look if/when we get relegated, or even in three weeks when we've not picked up another point.
I will continue to temper my potential happiness as it is surely only a matter of time before something goes wrong and we get that feeling like a child having all his Christmas presents taken off him a hour into Christmas morning. This is Newcastle after all.
So what to do? I may just let myself be both confused and happy and deal with the disappointment when it comes. Hey, it's been too long since I let myself enjoy NUFC even just a little bit. Even the absolute clarity in my mind that it is the years of underachievement and the brutality of continually dragging my expectations down is the reason that a glimmer of hope can now be classed as good news. I almost don't care.
This week I've decided to live the dream and look upwards. Oh dear, what have I done.....