A rotund, boozy chairman standing on the terraces. An ex-professional with the business sense, let alone common sense, of Derek Trotter as ‘Executive Director of Football’. A scouting system that involved splashing the hard-earned cash of the club’s tens of thousands of loyal fans on unknown players with a few hundred YouTube hits. Oh, how far the ‘wee club in the North east’ has come since the doom and gloom of relegation to England’s second tier.
Since the relegation of the Toon Army and it’s overplayed and overpaid ‘stars’, Mike Ashley has set about his business in a very credible way – albeit with one or two questionable decisions in the process. The five year model that Derek Llambias has often spoke about and publicly supported seems to be in full swing with some early progress bringing those longed-for European nights back to SJP. Those questionable decisions from MA and DL are those of the sacking of Chris Hughton, and reluctance to release the purse strings and strengthen the squad after such a successful season are, in my eyes, two blips in an otherwise safer-sailing Geordie ship.
Now, the core topic and real purpose to this post is the much improved communications coming from those above at NUFC. It seems as though the big boys at SJP have taken their fan-friendly approach to running a football club to a new level. Llambias, in recent times, has certainly understood the frustrations of many of the Toon faithful in that all they want from an owner and a club’s Board of Directors is questions regularly answered. After a difficult season to date with such high expectations from large portions of the clubs supporters, the main question hanging over the club was simply, WHY? WHY are a club with such gifted footballers in this position? WHY, as a Top 6 club, are we ill-prepared to deal with the tough and tight fixture schedule ahead? WHY were such little reinforcements brought in to add an obvious, much needed squad-depth to the club? Finally, WHY do we, the fans, not have the slightest of communication from those to blame for such a struggle this season? Although it’s long overdue, Ashley and Llambias, I take my hat off to you for those questions have been answered after such a ridiculously pleasing month to be one of the Toon Army.
In a recent interview, NUFC’s MD was willing and forthcoming in lifting the lid on the answers to the questions on the Geordie football nation’s lips. He was able to answer questions with truth and honesty, at the same time pleasing the ears of the fans. Some of the answers may have been too honest in the sense that he owned up to the fact that he and Ashley assumed the squad was strong and good enough to compete on all fronts this year. This probably had every fan screaming expletives at the idiocy of these two when reading the articles; however, for me personally it was more of a ‘WOW, honesty and answers at last!’ The fact that Llambias was open to providing answers on; players we missed out on in January, the work that was put in to acquire the French Revolution during January, the hierarchy listening to the fans, and more importantly the ambition they have to take the club to new levels.
To sum this up and to join in the NUFC trend of being honest, I really am excited about the future of my club. The approach and prevailing common sense that Ashley, Llambias, and of course Alain Pardeau seem to be showing in staying in touch with the fans is warming and trustworthy, really. For an MD and owner to be transparent is barely thought of in the modern game of Football, especially where the issues of transfer dealings are concerned. Football would be an even happier and relative place for the clubs and their fans if they were able to simply stay in touch. I, for one, hope it spreads through the game and more importantly carries on well into the future at Newcastle United Football Club.