As a 17-year-old Newcastle fan, I never got to see the glory days of the entertainers, the Champions League nights against Barcelona, or experience the excitement of a local lad being brought back to his hometown club for a world record fee and going onto to become the most prolific striker in Premier League history.
Instead the height of success I have experienced is a 5th place finish and a Europa League quarter-final. The summer of 2012 is a perfect analogy of the Newcastle United I have grown up loving, yet been ultimately left disappointed by.
The summer after we finished 5th, the club should have invested while we were in a strong position to make sure we were able to kick on in 2012/13 and compete both domestically and in Europe.
The £10m signing of Papiss Cisse earlier that year was perfect proof of what investment could bring. It gave us an injection of quality, a timely boost and some much needed momentum, yet our only signing in the summer before a hectic 2012/13 was Vurnon Anita – who signed for £7m from Ajax.
As we all know too well, this left a squad competing on several fronts to rely on youth players and fringe men, meaning we ended up almost getting relegated (we only stayed up by 5 points) and sacrificing our league form for a decent run in Europe due to our paper thin squad struggled to play on a Thursday and Sunday every other week.
I honestly believe that the summer of 2012 could’ve been a game changer if we kicked on, yet it’s served to be one of the reasons Newcastle find themselves where they are today. That season could, and should, have been a catalyst for Mike Ashley to realise what successful investment into a club like ours could truly bring.
Instead, eight summers later, we’re now in a position where the club has just two fit senior goalkeepers, and only one senior striker who isn’t injured, quarantined or an outcast – and that fit striker is Andy Carroll, who can hardly be relied on to start at all, never mind play consecutive games. It hardly bodes well for the season ahead.
Rather than feel the excitement a new season should bring, fans are left feeling apathetic and uninterested ahead of 2020/21, because they know the best case scenario is scraping a position somewhere between 17th and 13th, and the worst case is something nobody even dares think about.
The reality is, Newcastle United have 15 days to sort their act out and just over a month to salvage our summer and give fans a slither of hope, otherwise they risk losing their greatest asset, and the one thing which has kept us relevant and alive in English football.
Fans aren’t asking for £50 million signings or huge name players to be brought in, they are simply asking for reasonable investment to be made in a club which dominates the lives of so many. A club which in 2019 was the 20th richest in the world, a club which consistently makes one of the highest operating profits in the Premier League, yet sits idly by and lets its squad and fanbase disintegrate to the point where surviving in the Premier League by the skin of our teeth in 17th becomes something we’d probably take once again next season.
We aren’t the worst run club in the country, we aren’t ‘ungrateful Geordies’ for wanting some investment into our club either – there can, and should be a balance between the two – but when a football club is a vital part of everyday life, yet stops operating as one, then people are well within their right to complain and demand change.
After another failed takeover, a budget that’s been cut in half, no striker signed and more injuries than incomings, our club is on the edge of no return heading into 2020/21.
We aren’t deluded or ungrateful for wanting something done to prevent that. We just want our club back so a generation of fans who’ve only known Mike Ashley can feel what it’s really like to see their football club thrive.