Steve Harper spent 20 seasons at Newcastle, and the goalkeeper has seen it all, including the good days under both Kevin Keegan and Bobby Robson, but Steve – before tonight’s charity game at St. James’ Park – has spoken out about owner Mike Ashley, and Steve thinks there is now a real disconnect between Newcastle and its fans, and if that’s not fixed quickly, whatever is special about Newcastle United will die.
Mike Ashley – disconnect with Newcastle fans
Newcastle have just completed another summer transfer window when we seemed to show no real ambition to sign top players, and once again money got in the way of signing our top target – this time Bafe Gomis.
It seems Newcastle asked the French International to take a cut in wages, after a deal had been struck with Lyon, and if these things keep happening then Newcastle will become known as the Premier League club which is just too thrifty and miserly with their money – maybe that’s already the case.
It’s good to have the financial side of the club under control – don’t get us wrong – but you can also overdo it.
This is what Steve Harper said in the Telegraph today, as he gave a little biology education on Newcastle and its fans:
“If the club was a body, the fans are the heart.” “It’s a cliché, but the fans do bleed black and white. They are its heartbeat, but the link between the brain and the heart is no longer there.”
“Newcastle are bleeding and if that isn’t addressed, if the wound is not allowed to heal, whatever is special about the club is in danger of dying.” “The fans make the club tick, but they feel detached from it.”
“Whenever the club has done well over, the fans have been on board. They have been fully behind their team, their club.” “I think their loyalty has been tested far too often in recent years.”
“It’s one of the great clubs, but it should be competing amongst the very best in Europe. It’s getting harder and harder to break on to the top table and opportunities have been missed.”
“We finished fifth a couple of years ago, but to sustain that you need investment in the team.” “If I had a message to Mike Ashley it would be to engage with the fans, to repair that relationship. It’s not totally broken, but it doesn’t just need a plaster on it, it needs to be fixed.”
It’s good that somebody as respected as Steve Harper is trying to get Ashley to change the way he runs the club, and one thing Mike seems to continually do is to upset and annoy the fans, and sometimes it even looks as though it may be deliberate, but maybe it just looks that way.
Newcastle fans want their club to be great again, and as these transfer windows show – the smaller clubs have a lot more ambition than Newcastle, and are willing to spend more money.
Time is running out, and in truth we just don’t see any real ambition at Newcastle, where the main preoccupation seems to be showing good financial results each year.
That’s not good enough – not for a club like Newcastle United.
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