Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Warning - Even the Devoted Toon Army Can't Be Expected to Always Forgive Failure

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Warning - Even the Devoted Toon Army Can't Be Expected to Always Forgive Failure

Article excerpt

Byline: By John Gibson

To A Geordie nation, Newcastle United is the great love affair of their lives.

However, to those of a neutral disposition, they are currently Graham Norton's comedy club starring Julian Clary. Plenty of sniggers to entertain a nation.

Roll up, roll up. Fisticuffs and farce, rebellion and redemption. All in one package.

If it's not Craig Bellamy, it's Kieron Dyer and Lee Bowyer, or Laurent Robert.

Equally, St James' Park appears to double as a rest home for fading stars with little passion, aka Patrick Kluivert and Nicky Butt. And for those not quite up to scratch ( fill in who you will.

How let down Alan Shearer and Shay Given must feel, how those thrown out like Gary Speed, Nobby Solano and Olivier Bernard must wonder why. How Bellamy goes but Dyer and Bowyer don't. How, how, how . . .

And the endless queue of offenders who trot out the easiest word in the English language ( sorry ( leaves me particularly cold. They aren't, more often than not, sparked by a genuine feeling of remorse but prompted by agents who can see thousands of pounds walking out of the door.

A lover's tiff likely to be gratefully patched up? It has always been thus between club and fans but if I were one of the men in suits I wouldn't keep betting on it. At some stage, unless radical repair work is done immediately, it is all going to change.

Platitudes about being one of the biggest clubs in the world with the greatest fans won't wash forever. Even the wife gets sick of a bunch of flowers as an excuse for drunken behaviour.

Someone within the confines of St James' Park dared to suggest that United are worse this season than last.

Well, to those in power who were affronted by such boldness, let me reiterate that United most certainly are worse. By a country mile. And last season's side was inferior to the one performing in season 2002-3.

The barometer, the most accurate guide, is league position rather than cup runs, which are a sprint not a marathon and can be propelled by a lucky draw.

The Premier League proves conclusively that United are going backwards at a rapid rate of knots from Champions League soccer towards no European qualification at all. …

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