If you cast your mind back ten years, then Newcastle United were in 4th place in the league under Sir Bobby Robson, having beaten Everton 4-2 at home on April 3rd of 2004, and still in the Europa League (UEFA Cup in those days), after we had been knocked out of the Champions League in the previous August in the two-legged qualification round.
The teams above us in the league were Chelsea (1), Arsenal (2) and Manchester United (3), although we were 14 points behind the Red Devils.
Sir Bobby Robson – Newcastle manager 1999-2004
We finally finished in 5th place, and in those days that was a disappointment, after we had finished 3rd in the previous season, and we had been eliminated at the first hurdle of the Champions League, and that was not good either.
In August of 2003, we had beaten Partizan away 1-0 in the first leg, but in the return leg they beat us 1-0, and after extra time we lost on penalties 4-3.
And we reached the semifinals of the Europa League – in those days called the UEFA Cup – in May of 2004 – and drew the first round tie 0-0, but lost in Marseilles 2-0, with two goals from Didier Drogba, and after finishing 4th and 3rd in the previous two seasons, 5th top was a disappointment.
And Bobby Robson paid for that with his job in August of 2004, when then Chairman Freddy Shepherd sacked him.
Bobby was sacked to enable Newcastle to continue to be in the top four in the Premier League, but the best we have done since that time is 5th top in 2012 – and Glenn Roeder got us to 7th top in 2006, after he took over from Graeme Souness in February of that year.
Graeme had taken over from Robson in September of 2004, but lasted less than 18 months.
So in the ten years since Bobby Robson was sacked, the club has been bought by Billionaire Mike Ashley in the summer of 2007, and it’s just our luck that he is one of the few Billionaires who doesn’t invest some of his massive money into the club he owns.
Newcastle were relegated in 2009, promoted back as Champions with a fantastic 102 points in 2010, finished 5th in 2012, and the next season we only just avoided relegation – which brings us up to last season.
So it’s hard to point to too much success in those ten years, and certainly under Mike Ashley we have precious little to show for it – 5th top is the best we’ve done in one season out of seven – and we’ll probably finish 9th or 10th this season – mediocre at best.
Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United were the top teams ten years ago, but since then big money has turned Chelsea and Manchester City into top four clubs, and this season Everton, under new manager Roberto Martinez, are now pushing for a top four place.
And Everton hammered Arsenal this afternoon 3-0 and now have a chance of qualifying for the Champions League, as they are one point behind Arsenal with a game in hand. And if Arsenal don’t qualify for the Champions League it will be the first time since Arsene Wenger became the Arsenal manager back in 1996.
So after being one of the top four (maybe top five) clubs in the last three years under the great Sir Bobby Robson, we have finished 5th once since Bobby was fired, and now we have the two Manchester clubs, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham who are bigger clubs than Newcastle, and maybe Everton and Southampton have also moved above us this season.
So we could now be 9th “biggest” club in England, and we have been in almost constant decline since Bobby Robson was fired.
Fans would love to see a more ambitious owner than Mike Ashley at the helm, and maybe a change of manager would also help.
When you look at what Roberto Martinez has done at Everton in his first season, and what Brendan Rodgers has done at Liverpool in his second season, those two clubs play the way Newcastle United should always play.
But we just cannot see Mike Ashley selling up any time soon, but it may be that Alan Pardew is replaced in the summer, but we doubt that will even happen.
The point is that Newcastle are in decline, and the only way we can see this thing turning around is if we have a good clear-out of players in the summer, and get the six or seven good players in that is apparently the current plan.
But of course the problem is it’s going to be difficult to compete for the best players with the bigger clubs in England, and that number could now be as many as eight clubs above us.
Where’s that Geordie Billionaire who’s hiding out in Saudi Arabia – time for him (or her) to come and buy Newcastle United and pump some big money into the club, and get us back to our former glories.
And we hate to end this on a negative note – but we just cannot see that happening – and it seems that Mike Ashley will be around for a few years yet.
With everything that’s happened in the last ten years, and everything that’s happened since Christmas, with Newcastle limping to the finish line this season, it’s not surprising that Newcastle fans are fed up.
Make that completely fed up. 🙁