Sacking Pardew Won't Fix Newcastle But It'd Least Bring Fans Hope

You know, "hope"? Remember that?
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Sacking Pardew Won't Fix Newcastle But It'd Least Bring Fans Hope

There are three types of people writing about Newcastle United at present.

First we have the nation’s journalists. Trying to delicately prize open the hierarchy like a really old tin of syrup, all playing a little game of how much insight and opinion they can offer without getting a banning order, there’s political editors out there getting more to work with from North Korea. They deserve some sympathy, but there’s only so many pieces on Ashley at Rangers and Alan Pardew’s suitability for life on earth that you can read in one lifetime.

There’s also only so many times I can read the protesting of fan groups. I agree with them, wholeheartedly, but the reasons that either the owner of the manager need to leave the club have been common knowledge for years, rewriting the same thing on your Facebook page isn’t going to ramp up the pressure any.

All that’s left is the liturgy of alleged tactics experts and bedroom bloggers cobbling together think pieces on how Anita and Colback could work as a double pivot. Truly a dark, dark age for a football club who normally give writers the world over so much to talk, argue, and laugh about.

I’ve been in all three camps already this season, so instead I’m going to tell you a story.

My girlfriend is a Southerner with no interest in football, but somehow she’s very quickly taken Newcastle United to her heart. She hasn’t done the background reading, so the internal politics at the club and the fan/owner tension don’t really come into it for her – all she knows is that in this city she’s quite fond of there’s a team that everyone’s really, really into. And she thinks that’s lovely.

So, as Newcastle prepared to welcome Steve Bruce’s Hull City, we acquired some tickets for her first ever trip to St James’ Park. Scarf around her neck, PardewOut flyer in her pocket, her indoctrination into a lifetime of disappointment continued apace.

0-2 down after 73 minutes, the mood in the ground was as tense as it was deflated. I sat there propping my head up with my hand while she valiantly tried to stay chipper by telling me how on-trend Newcastle’s third kit actually was this season. Then something happened that I don’t think anyone in the ground was expecting; we scored.

She leapt to her feet, arms in the air, doing the patented ‘football fan celebrating a goal’ thing that she’s seen countless other people do over the years. She turned around expecting to see the same, but was instead confronted with the image of me sat entirely unmoved and, if anything, looking even more disappointed.

“What is it? Am I doing this wrong? Is this not a good thing?”

I can’t remember exactly what I said at this point, but the main source of my apathy was that it now looked like we’d salvage a draw, or worse still go on and win, and that meant that the whole f***ing charade would continue. A defeat would have put yet more pressure on Pardew, and maybe, just maybe, he might have got the bullet.

He’s not the problem of course, and his removal won’t fix everything, but in the aftermath of his departure there will come something that’s been missing since longer than I care to remember: hope.

I’m not even sure what it is we’ll be able to hope of. Not that we’ll be title challengers again, not that we’ll power through to the latter stages of cup competitions, not that our squad will suddenly start playing brilliantly, not even that our results will improve that drastically. Despite what you may think about “expectations” in this part of the world, nobody here’s under any illusions about where we stand in the pecking order of modern football.

But hope’s still a powerful thing, and a light at the end of the Ashley tunnel is all it would take to lift the mood on Tyneside. Removing Pardew’s no guarantee of that, but it would remind everyone that this administration can’t last forever, and that the fans were here long before them and they’ll be here long after they’ve gone. Right now though, it doesn’t feel that way.

Fifteen minutes later the equaliser crossed that line and I leapt to my feet, arms in the air, and did the patented ‘football fan celebrating a goal’ thing I used to be so good at.

With a point acquired, two goals seen, and having been given a thoroughly entertaining second half the girlfriend turned to me as were leaving and asked “so do you think they’ll be able to build on this and win a game now?”

“I don’t know”, I replied. “But I hope so”.