I haven’t written an article for a while but have recently been stewing on this one.
Before you all wince at the thought of me taking you back to the 24th May 2009…. there is a point. Was the relegation one of the worst things that could have happened to us as a club, a team, a city of adoring fans?
I think only now we are lying 5th in the table it is safe to drag out those memories for reflection….. Alan Shearer led us out at Aston Villa knowing that a draw could have possibly been enough for survival. Alas it wasn’t to be and after a spineless performance lacking in urgency, fight and desire, we were relegated. Here’s a quote from a summariser at the game;
“No fight. No urgency. No desire. No willingness to put limbs on the line to get the desired result. No wonder Shearer looked shattered in his post-match inquest”
We were a laughing stock if we all remember and this was the worst thing any fan could envisage. We all knew where we were that day. I happened to be at my mates house with two fellow Geordie fans. We all were convinced we would survive. We hadn’t been able to get tickets and we were gutted. The mixture of nerves and excitement probably would have killed us anyway, the sheer desperation and agony of the drive home would have been too much to bear. I remember getting a call from the Mrs after the game urging me not to do anything stupid. We will leave it at that.
This is starting to make me sad again. I had never felt so far away from the Sir Bobby Robson days of Champions league and Craig Bellamy scoring against Feyenoord to take us into the next round. And lets be honest relegation has been a curse in that sense. No Europe for a long time, a massive hit on our finances; massive. We had to start to drive out all the dead wood and players who had cost us so much. Michael Owen, Obefemi Martins, Sevastien Bassong, Mark Viduka. It seemed the end it really did. It was a damn curse.
However, just to put this into slight perspective not even three years on and we are 5th in the Premier League. Can I just repeat 5th; we have a team that, my word, would make even the best think twice and we have a man in Alan Pardew that has with the help of Chris Hughton before him has turned us into a completely different animal.
How many of us could say the players lack fight, desire, or that passion for the shirt is missing as it was three years ago? How many of us can say that the players lack skill, a mix of youth and quality? Newcastle United have gone from strength to strength. We have a new number nine and we have had our fair share of problems. But we have never given up, one thing this new era as brought is fight and a determination to succeed.
So was relegation a blessing? Would we be another mediocre team in the Premier League if we had survived? Would we still be paying absurd amounts of money for very little return (ie Owen). Would we have seen this transformation and rebirth of Newcastle United had we survived.
Obviously it has damaged our bank balance and hindered the growth of the club initially but that is the price relegation brings. But it has transformed the club into an animal we have long since forgotten existed. With us sitting 5th in the Premier League and looking at a team that really could push for Europe in just three years since relegation it does beg the answer…..