In May of 2009, Newcastle United fans were in mourning. The owner, board and executive management team were in shambles and not even Alan Shearer, the ultimate Magpies legend, could save them from relegation to the Championship.
Despite the crash and burn events of 2009, Chris Hughton did manage to ferry the team back to the Premier League after just one season in football obscurity. And how was the then Newcastle United manager thanked by owner Mike Ashley? He was given the sack half way through the 2010/11 season. Newcastle United fans returned to mourning. Their club was once again being dragged through the football mud. And more horror was to come.
Mike Ashley followed up the sacking of Hughton by hiring Alan Pardew, which at the time, appeared to be a like-for-like appointment. Ashley continued to rip through the club by selling fan favourites like Joey Barton, Kevin Nolan and Andy Carroll. It seemed the team were doomed to fail again and a date with Championship football was a certainty for the Toon Army. Surely there would be no return from this for Mike Ashley or the team? Or would there?
The history of Mike Ashley as owner of Newcastle United did not instill any confidence in the fans that he was making decisions that were in the best interest of the club. But for once, the big man may have got it right. Furnishing Alan Pardew with the funds to bring in players like Hatem Ben Arfa, Demba Ba, Papiss Cisse and Yohan Cabaye, has all but erased the bad memories and given everyone belief that the return of Newcastle United could definitely be on. Fans can smell it, but dare they believe it?
Alan Pardew has a lovely blend of foreign and British talent which surely makes many Premier League fans envious. Liverpool fans especially must be wanting to kick their own club right now. Think of the money they have spent in the transfer market in comparison to Newcastle United. And think of the talent the Magpies acquired compared to Liverpool. Bet the Kop would exchange Stewart Downing, Charlie Adam, Jordan Henderson and Andy Carroll for any of those Newcastle United players right now. Yes Liverpool won the Carling Cup. Yes they are in the semi-final of the F.A. Cup. However, their league form has been woeful. Liverpool could have acquired Ba or Cisse but they didn’t. Newcastle’s scouting team should be credited for the talent they’ve seeked and acquired this season. And Alan Pardew should be a consideration for Manager of the Year.
Life hasn’t been this good on Tyneside since the 1995/96 season that showcased phenomenal talent like David Ginola, Les Ferdinand and Alan Shearer. And with only five weeks left of Premier League action, Newcastle United fans can finally believe the changes at the club have worked as they could also return to Champions League football for the first time in almost 10 years.
The return of the Toon Army is definitely on. The questions is, how long will it last? Hopefully, this chapter in Newcastle United’s history will go on for a good few pages…