Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Tune in for an Eight-Episode Thriller in Best Soap Tradition

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Tune in for an Eight-Episode Thriller in Best Soap Tradition

Article excerpt

Byline: Tony Henderson

THERE must be TV soaps meetings where scriptwriters gather weekly to dream up ever more bizarre plot lines to surprise jaded viewers.

Well, even they couldn't have invented the twists, turns and dives of Newcastle's season.

And just as the not so good ship United drifts seemingly inevitably towards the rocks of relegation, comes the biggest jaw-dropper of them all.

Can Shear magic save The Toon? It's an eight episode cliffhanger in best soap traditions.

Make no mistake, only Alan Shearer could re-ignite the spark in a disastrous season and re-invigorate supporters drowning in disillusionment.

That has its roots in a sorry saga which began last summer.

Shay Given went public and pleaded with the United regime to buy and strengthen a squad short on quality and numbers.

It didn't happen. Then the fallout from a misconceived management structure saw Keegan quit.

With the club set to be sold, the appointment was made of a stop gap manager which stunned even the bookies.

The club couldn't be sold, Given left after another display of transfer torpor in January, and United plunge into the last crucial few weeks in the hands of a couple of coaches.

Now Newcastle United have had plenty of poor seasons, as 54 years without a major domestic trophy will testify.

And no, the Texaco Cup doesn't count.

But what has been starkly different about this time round is the growing disenchantment of supporters who are justifiably legendary for their loyalty.

Once unthinkable, many have opted to miss matches, gates have dipped, tickets increasingly difficult to even give away.

At every turn, previously committed fans declare that they will not be renewing expensive season tickets. Nobody likes being taken for a ride .

What was driving this disenchantment was the lack of vision, energy, purpose or planning at the heart of the club. …

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