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Taking the Mike

Robbo Robson | 12:13 UK time, Monday, 15 September 2008

I've tried loads of times to begin this blog about the latest goings on at Newcastle United but you know what - it's impossible to know where to start. so I'm going to go to the basics - the Toon Army.

Now, I know a lot of Geordies - and most of 'em have a healthy sense of humour. But put 'em in a barcode outfit and stand 'em on the terraces and they go mental.

First of all, let's get it clear. Sam Allardyce's reign produced deathly dull football but the team weren't doing much worse than normal in terms of points.

When Big Sam was shown the door and Ashley consulted his tea leaves to get a replacement, there wasn't a thinking person in the whole country who didn't think that Keegan's return was going to lead to disaster.

He is football's version of the Runaway Bride, although I reckon Julia Roberts has more underarm hair and is less prone to a hissy-fit.

Just to prove that this was a decision motivated entirely by sentiment, the chairman popped into his own shop and bought a jersey with "King Kev" on the back and sank lager in the stands like a natural.


Now this is a bloke who's a billionaire - a business success story and some. He gets up to Newcastle and his brain and belly turn to jelly.

On the one hand Ashley plays the "I'm one of you" card - on the other hand he tries to play the businessman.

It's like Del Boy Trotter has bought the gaff and employed Rodney and Trigger to help him out.

No-one really ever bought the "man of the people" act and now it turns out his true loyalty is to the mates he brought in, and not the club. And that's his biggest misjudgement.

He's not one of the boys no matter how many XXXXXXXL footy shirts he buys, no matter how many pints he sinks, no matter how many times he sings the Blaydon Bloody Races. But Keegan is.

Keegan's exactly like your average Toonite - passionate, over-expectant, a bit irrational. He loves attacking free-flowing stuff - he's all for 4-3 rather than 1-0.

And he nearly did it before. He nearly fulfilled the dream. To be honest, Kev, we'd all have "loved it" if you had.

So Ashley has drawn on the sloppy sentiment of the fans without understanding the true meaning of what he did. And now they feel betrayed. He's turned from the Angel Gabriel into Judas in a few short months.

And Kev's walked (obviously straight out of the door across the Tyne without getting his two-inch heels wet if you believe the Gallowgate End).

In a nutshell, what Ashley didn't get was that if you want to stay on the side of the believers, then it's best if you don't undermine God. He's committed blasphemy, which was why he didn't show up on Saturday to the Hull game (Mind you, neither did the team and who can blame them?).

The thing I really don't get - and maybe I'm jealous cos we Teessiders learnt long ago that we should be grateful for what we get - is where all this massive expectation comes from.

I mean, Newcastle United have won precisely nowt for nigh on 50 years. That's diddly, nada, zilch. In that same period the FA Cup has been won by Sunderland, Southampton, Portsmouth, West Ham, Spurs...

The League Cup has been won by Boro, Villa, Leicester, Norwich, Oxford Bleeding United, Wolves, even the League somehow found its way into the hands of Leeds, Derby, Forest, Villa, Everton.

In all that time, Newcastle have done nothing. So where does this inner-belief come from?

When a woman says "he ruined me life", you've got to ask whether that woman ought to have more important things to worry about.

I mean, I love Middlesbrough football club but I don't think Bryan Robson made me suicidal - he just made me bloody miserable for a bit.

Ashley's put the 'For Sale' sign up but you've got to ask who's going to want to fork out money to get this sort of treatment from a group of fans living on virtually non-existent past glories?

Ashley put 250 million quid into the club and it's still struggling financially. That aside, Ashley has been a disaster but until the fans get a grip on reality it's going to be an impossible job for anyone.

We seem to be saying this about Newcastle every three months but whoever comes in now needs to be given time, lots of time, be it owner, chairman, manager, director of football, or even tea boy.

What's more likely to happen is that there'll be a glorious sentimental cartel of great Geordies from popular culture who'll form a showbiz take-over.

Just imagine Alan Shearer, Mark Knopfler, Sting, and Brian Ferry singing Brothers in Arms as they mount a podium at the centre of St. James' Park, while the chairmen Ant 'n' Dec look on with pints in their hands and pride in their hearts.

Actually that won't happen cos it might work. Let's be realistic: what does a prospective buyer need to be successful?

They need to be:

(A) Local
(B) Thicker-skinned than Simon Cowell
(C) Richer than one of me Nan's Christmas puddings
(D) Maybe a bit delusional
(E) Probably a bit stupid

Well, there's only one person that fits the bill if you ask me - Heather Mills, your time has come.


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