As an NUFC fan, I’ve been pretty depressed in the last week or so – as have the rest of this godforsaken fanbase. However, looking through social media in the days following the humiliation at Carrow Road, I’ve been totally shocked at the reaction towards the players.
The likes of Miguel Almiron – our best player, as well as record signing Joelinton and others have come under some very, very undeserved criticism. Yes, they were poor at the weekend – but to not be able to see that it was the fault of the system, not the players, suggests you must be registered blind.
Almiron, for example, almost single-handedly transformed this Newcastle team in an offensive sense last season. His infectious work rate, clear skill on the ball and willingness to make something happen made us a force going forwards. That was under Rafa Benitez, in a system that worked, with players around him with whom he had an instant rapport – possibly due to speaking the same language as his two buddies in attack – both of whom have now left.
Now, he’s being played drastically out of position, he’s lost his two pals, he has a manager he can barely understand and he’s being expected to carry the weight of the team’s entire attack on his skinny little shoulders. Baring all that in mind, of course he wasn’t amazing on Saturday – who would be with all that against them? Somehow he’s expected to flourish in a system where he’s the only one who creates anything and only has Joelinton to pass to.
Actually, that gives me a nice little segway into talking about the Brazilian – he’s had TWO GODDAMN GAMES! TWO GAMES! Despite that, he’s already been written off by half of the NUFC fans. I’ve seen tweets this week describing him as “a total waste of money”, “the second coming of Shola” and much, much worse. Yes, he hasn’t scored yet in the league – can some remind me how long it took fan favourite Salomon Rondon to score a league goal last season?
Oh yes, he didn’t bag one until mid-November when he scored a brace at home to Watford. Even away from the goals, Joelinton is another one who is totally out of place in what is a p*ss poor system. He’s totally isolated up front – whether the defenders are Steve, Gary and Alan from Cramlington or they’re Virgil Van Dijk, Aymeric Laporte and Gerard Pique – it’s easy to defend against someone when it’s three/four against one.
At the end of the day, what I’m trying to say is that there’s no way in hell the players should be attracting the amount of heat they are when they’re playing with unfamiliar teammates in a poor system. Blame the manager for his system choices all you want, but give the players a break.
Us lot getting on the backs of the players isn’t going to help anything – especially with the new players. Last season and the season before, aside from the Rafa factor, one of the things that kept us going was how much the team cared for the club. How much do you think these new boys will care when they log onto Twitter and see waves of abuse from their own fans? How long do you think they’ll put up with that?
Last week, after the mistake that led to Arsenal’s winning goal at SJP – Jetro Willems received comment after comment on his Instagram post telling him how “rubbish” he was and how he “cost us the game”. It’s absolutely bizarre.
These boys have come here and been told how NUFC fans are the best in the country – even the best in the world sometimes. How we’re famous for our loyalty, for sticking by our side no matter what’s happening. Despite that, less than a month into their NUFC career they’re being abused online by those very same fans.
It’s almost as though a lot of our fanbase have forgotten what it means to be a fan. It’s about always being there to roar the boys on, it’s about pulling on those black and white stripes proudly, it’s about being the twelfth man and driving the boys on. The last thing we should be doing is abusing our own team – especially in a time where they need us more than they ever have done.
Stats come from https://www.transfermarkt.co.uk/
Another NUFC opinion from today: https://lazyfansports.com/boycotts-arent-the-answer-for-newcastle-united-fans