Newcastle United, Open letters, and the manipulation of loyalty

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Yesterday, Fabricio Coloccini wrote an open letter to the Newcastle fans, apologising for the side’s recent form and imploring the supporters to put aside their differences with the club’s ownership for the sake of the greater good.

Also yesterday, a rumour was published in the British press about Newcastle’s apparent interest in Aleksandar Mitrovic, Anderlecht’s exciting twenty year-old forward.

The two incidents appear to be unrelated, but they’re actually one in the same: they are both part of a constructed PR effort.

Coloccini may well have written the letter himself - the club insist that they simply translated it from Spanish into English - but it still feels like an orchestrated attempt to redirect Newcastle’s surrounding narrative.

Similarly, that Mitrovic’s name appeared in connection with them on the very same day is highly suspect; the Serbian is one of the most coveted talents in Europe and the notion that Mike Ashley would sanction the spending of the kind of fee needed to sign him is laughable.

Mitrovic isn’t a £4m or £5m player, he would cost upwards of £15m and, to sign him, Newcastle would have to fight off interest from all over the continent.  No chance, no way, never.

But you can see what this is an aid of…

Beyond net-spends, commercial interest, and sporting apathy, Ashley’s time at in the North-East has been characterised by a palpable indifference towards the supporters.  He has, at every turn, trampled on the traditions and values that they hold dear and, invariably, he’s smiled as he’s done it.

For an outsider like myself, someone who has no vested interest in the team’s short-term future, it’s satisfying to watch him squirm.  Having disregarded the fans for so long and having flicked figurative v-signs towards them so many times, he’s now in the unfamiliar position of having to crawl to them.

The team is managed by someone who has no place in this league and populated with players who emotionally checked-out a long time ago, so - in search of form - where else can Ashley look to protect his investment but to the crowd?  They are the intangible force, they possess an energy that the side desperately needs, and they are being targeted with these transparent little stories.

“Mitrovic?  He’s a good player; maybe this is the turning point, maybe Ashley has embraced a new direction?  You know what, I’m going to turn up to the final games and get right behind the team.  And Colo…maybe he’s a good guy after all, maybe he didn’t really try to do everything in his power a year ago to extricate himself from his contract.”

That’s the desired effect.

In a way, it’s actually more insulting than anything that has gone before.  The supporters have had their loyalty tested year-on-year and now Ashley, with his chubby-faced smirk, is testing their intelligence.

This isn’t on the fans and it isn’t up to them to rally behind this middle-finger of a team.  Manipulating a supporter’s loyalty with cheap tricks is as about as low as an owner can sink - and that’s exactly what’s happening here.  Ashley has created this situation and the players have offered as little resistance as they can possibly get away with; but now the fans are obliged to turn up, to pay and to dig the club out of a hole?

How can this possibly fall on their shoulders?  And does anyone imagine that, if Newcastle are saved from the drop by those beneath them, this cycle won’t just be repeated next season?

This becomes more insulting by the day.  This club needs to be relegated and while that’s a harsh reality for those who still head to St James’ Park every other weekend, maybe - if that were to happen - they can take some comfort in knowing that they would just be watching a marketing platform collapse rather than a football club decline.  This, after all, has not been a football club for a long time.

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5 Comments on "Newcastle United, Open letters, and the manipulation of loyalty"

  1. Spike (@nufcmag777) | May 6, 2015 at 1:01 pm |

    David E,
    i have never read such drivel in all of my life.You must of never set foot in Newcastle because we have many fine michelin restaurants(17 actually)so by this point only you are a fraud and the rest of your rely can only be taken as lies.Please do some research before commenting on things alien to you.Tosser.

  2. Howard Linskey | May 6, 2015 at 12:46 pm |

    Agree with every word of that article. Well said. I’m a lifelong NUFC fan and I detest Ashley and everything he has done to our club.

  3. excellent article, summed up to a tee.

  4. Relegation is nothing new to Ashley. He’s been there before and managed to get out in 1 season. He has made no secret of his dislike of Cup competitions because there is not enough money in them. His sole aim is to finish in the EPL as high as they can. As for Mitrovic, apart from the top 4 clubs Ashley if he wished could outbid any of the rest. He has spent over £10 mil on the likes of Cisse and Cabella. Has Ashley ever forced any player to leave who didn’t want to. Debuchy has openly come out and stated that from day 1 he used Newcastle as a stepping stone. Cabaye managed to get into the French squad after signing for Newcastle, although strangely he is currently stating he is looking to leave PSG having only played 20 odd games this season. Carroll left for loadsamoney and Sissoko a current French international will leave for a bigger club at the end of this season. Newcastle may have the 3rd highest home crowds in the EPL but that does not make them a big club. Fans have always had much higher expectations than was feasible. Newcastle is not number 1, 2 or even 3 on any top players wish list for any number of reasons, little chance of CL football, no Michelin restaurants, no top bars or clubs, the weather, no mixing with top footballers, music or film stars, lack of £10 mil houses etc. etc. Ashley needs to employ a coach who has vast knowledge of the Euro market, replace all the coaching staff. I have never seen a more obese coach than Andy Woodman, the goalkeeping coach. Replace all the medical staff. We have had major injuries this season but whilst other clubs can get their players back with similar injuries in weeks, with Newcastle it takes months and months. So of the 3 highest transfer fees Ashley received, one is at a mid table EPL club and is injury prone, one wants to leave PSG after just 2 seasons and the other obviously didn’t know there was a RB called Bellerin at Arsenal because he is now on the subs bench.

  5. toontoonblacknwhitearmy | May 6, 2015 at 10:53 am |

    Totally agree, and it doesn’t take a genius to see through it all.
    Unfortunately, it has been well timed and will hit the mark.
    You will see the fans reaction on Saturday when another 50k plus crowd watch in silence as the team get crucified by a well organised and disciplined WBA.
    It will be too late after that for the wailing and gnashing of teeth that will follow.

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