Newcastle United is a club very much divided

Last updated : 21 February 2005 By Craig Hope (website editor)

Decision to make?
There are too many dividing issues circulating in and around St.James Park. It is these issues that are causing animosity between players, coaches, manager, chairman and supporters alike.

I have never witnessed so much arguing amongst fans in the stands as I have since Graeme Souness was appointed. I’m not blaming the Scot, but his arrival immediately divided a set of supporters straight down the middle.

Then the Craig Bellamy issue proceeded to further divide the terraces, then Laurent Robert, then Olivier Bernard etc. etc. There are so many factors that divide opinion that it’s impossible to find a fellow supporter with whom you agree on everything. There are even still arguments about Nolberto Solano!

It is this dissent and divide that is currently undermining our club. On Saturday I had a go at a guy behind me for booing an individual, Andy O’Brien, and argued that to single out one player will do nothing for the morale of that individual or his team mates. And so it went that for the last thirty minutes against Charlton our whole defence seemed terrified to make a mistake – with O’Brien totally abandoning defensive responsibility following his costly error and subsequent heckling. It was as if some supporters wanted him to make another mistake!

When teams come to
St.James Park they come with a simple game plan. Keep the score level until the hour, limit opportunities afforded to the home team, force Newcastle to sustained periods of possession in and around the halfway line and then let the home crowd do the rest before you head back south with at least a point in the bag – ask Chris Coleman, David Moyes or Alan Curbishley if the aforementioned tactics reaped any reward?

The club is full, from top to bottom, of loathing and bitterness. Until this general feeling of animosity is eradicated then the ship that is Newcastle United will be heading nowhere fast. With so many forces pulling in so many different directions we are only going to remain stationary or worse still, plummet.

What can we do? Let the issues blow over? Not likely – see earlier reference to lingering Solano debate. Replace Graeme Souness? Would achieve nothing other than cause further unrest and a lack of faith in our board – Souness has to prove one way or another whether or not he is good enough and only then will he be sacked or backed. Some may argue he’s already proved that he isn’t good enough.

I feel he deserves at least the summer to bring in his own players with Faye and Babayaro both looking to be promising acquisitions. With regards to tactics, the ex-Blackburn boss has done little to inspire confidence – four central midfielders the supply line to a player with the aerial prowess of Alan Shearer defies footballing logic.

As I write this I feel I don’t even agree with myself. So many issues, so many opinions, sadly, not so many sensible solutions. Every solution comes with an opportunity cost. Sell Bellamy – lose your most effective player/get rid of a trouble maker. Start Robert – more crosses for Shearer/run the risk of a performance like the one he put in at Highbury.

These decisions ultimately rest with one man – Graeme Souness. In the short term we have to back the Scot in the hope that come August he has reshaped our ship and we are heading once more in the right direction – who knows, we may even have some silverware in our cabinet with our current Uefa and FA Cup dreams still very much alive!