Newcastle United – 1.

Howay the Lads !

When searching for potential clubs to manage on Football Manager – I like do study my subjects, much like a portrait artist or auto-biographer would. This might seem somewhat obsessive or over the top but, for me, it’s the only way to play; immersing myself in the ‘game’.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been able to narrow my choice of team down to a select few;

  • Eintracht Frankfurt
  • Hamburg
  • Rangers
  • Newcastle United

An array of great clubs, each  with tremendous history attached to them.

After much deliberation and extensive research – I’ve decided on Newcastle United.

Growing up in Glasgow and being a Rangers supporter – I can see huge similarities between the industrial cities of both Newcastle and Glasgow, with the working- class men and women from the local shipyards on the Rivers Tyne and Clyde – woven into the fabric of both football mad cities.

These days Newcastle United and Rangers are unfortunately linked by their association with current Magpies owner Mike Ashley and his company Sports Direct.

Rangers have recently been embroiled in a fierce court battle to rid themselves of said  ‘parasite’ once and for all – after he’d managed to dig his claws into the club during their more troubled times. Ashley managed to gain an 8.9% stake in the Glasgow giants and tied the club to a long list of erroneous contracts, which severely hampered Rangers.

What damage is Mike Ashley doing to Newcastle United where he currently has 100% control ?

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“History teaches everything, even the future.”

1995/96

  • Owner: Sir John Hall
  • Manager: Kevin Keegan

From the brink of relegation to the third tier in 1992 to beating Manchester United 5-0, it had been one hell of a ride. As Kevin Keegan stood at the top of the tunnel afterwards, Eric Cantona shook his hand and said: “You have a fucking good team.”

By modern standards Keegan’s tactical approach may look simple. Operating with a 4-4-2 formation and two traditional wingers, Keegan approached the Premiership with the belief that his team could always outplay their opposition.

Newcastle United were, at one stage, 12 points clear at the top of the table during that campaign, but eventually Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United overhauled them to lift the trophy. However, the Magpies’ swashbuckling, attacking style under Keegan made them many people’s second team – with the likes of David Ginola, Peter Beardsley, Les Ferdinand and Faustino Asprilla dazzling on the field.

I watched ‘The Premiership Years 1995/95’ whilst doing research, and what an amazing season that was.

The championship went right down to the wire – with Newcastle losing 4-3 in an epic encounter at Anfield which would see Manchester United take the crown on the final day of the season.

Liverpool v Newcastle United: 3rd April 19961996 tactic.png

Managers of newly-promoted teams nowadays are accused of naivety when adopting such a philosophy, but in Keegan’s case it worked. In the four Premiership seasons following promotion the team finished third, sixth, second, and second. They may not have won silverware, but that team inspired a generation of supporters on Tyneside.

And one wee boy from North Ayrshire…

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Faustino Asprilla: Left — David Ginola: Right

At nine years of age – football was really beginning to have a big impression on me, and this was the first English side I had affection for. I remember my cousin and close friend, Paul got the 95/96 ‘Newcastle Brown Ale’ shirt for Christmas that year.

Rangers are my one and only team (naturally).

Nobody can have two teams..!!

1996 was a special year to be alive, with the birth of Britpop, and Euro 96 fever sweeping across the land.

Gazza, anyone ?

I was in attendance at Ibrox Stadium on 28th April 1996 (one day before my tenth birthday). When Geordie hero, Paul Gascoigne scored a majestic hat-trick against Aberdeen to seal eight domestic league titles in a row for Rangers.

At 28/29 years-old, Gascoigne was at the peak of his powers whilst in Glasgow, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. I recently watched a full match re-run of his virtuoso performance against Aberdeen.

Full Match: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ogXfHIqUx3g

Goals: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kZGbDSOAbBE

To see Gazza strut about the park in full flow is a thing of sheer beauty.

Gazza 8 IAR.pngPaul Gascoigne: Middle

There’s so many little sub-plots and stories that can be shaped into the narrative throughout this save. Either here for everyone to read, or perhaps stuck in my head.

I’ll certainly do my utmost to try and get everything down in the blog.

In this vast globalised world, people crave history; narrative; institutions and traditions that they can make sense of through time.

Something with a clear narrative containing icons of the past.

This tradition is key to how we make sense of the world.

Almost like the next chapter of an unfolding Football Manager story.

Kevin Keegan – 2008

“The season is at an end, the future starts now; ticking-over at Newcastle United will not be tolerated.”

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To say I’m excited about this project would be selling it short.

The magnitude of the job is one that I can’t wait to get stuck into.

I think the main thing to concentrate on at first will be to make the team competitive, which in turn hopefully sees me keep my feet under the desk.

It’s clear to all and sundry that Mike Ashley is hampering the club, so let’s all hope the recent talks regarding a multi million pound takeover are true.

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If Ashley decides to sit tight then, much like my predecessor Rafael Benítez  – I could be in for some turbulence and a bumpy ride.

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It’s so good to be back.

Let’s enjoy FM 19..!!

I’ve got a feeling this is going to be the best one yet, and by a long shot..!!

Come and follow all things black and white over at;

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For the finer player.

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