Mark Brophy

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Notes from the Inside of a Waste Compactor


It’s the morning after the night before and sleep hasn’t helped the feeling. Prior to yesterday’s match at Norwich, the consensus seemed to be that the game was make or break, that defeat would leave Newcastle to be inevitably relegated. That holds true in the light of the new day, Newcastle probably have too much to do, 6 points adrift with 7 fixtures remaining. We can’t allow that to affect how we approach the rest of the season however. The drop is not yet a certainty. There are points to play for, and anything could happen between now and May; a dramatic turnaround in our form, natural disaster or illness striking our rivals. We have to keep plugging away for wins and hope results go our way elsewhere. The balance of probabilities is that we are going down though.

I like Rafa Benitez. Performances have improved in the 3 games he’s been in charge, just not enough for us to pick up the wins we needed. If he’d taken over in January I think we’d have been alright, though that is a hypothetical situation. He had only just been relieved of his post at Real Madrid so even if he’d been approached then he’d probably still have been gathering his thoughts and unlikely to take another job. He has a fine record and given time I think he would make this club successful. He’s certainly the best appointment we’ve made in over 15 years, since Bobby Robson took over. In fact our impending relegation is less of an issue than persuading him to stay. If he does then going down just means starting his long term project from a lower baseline. If not we are cast adrift once more on the stormy seas of Mike Ashley’s whims.

The trouble Benitez is currently finding in kick starting his under-achieving charges into a unit that can win matches casts interesting light on the short time in charge of another panic appointment, Alan Shearer. Viewed as a failure by the wider footballing public after failing to save us in his 8 games in post, Shearers time here should perhaps be reevaluated. Like Benitez, he was saddled with a non-performing squad he couldn’t change. Also like Rafa so far, there were improved performances without that being enough to drag us away from trouble. The point being that both men were on a hiding to nothing and shouldn’t be viewed too harshly for failing to achieve what they set out to do though Benitez still has time to make a difference against the odds of course.

The squad isn’t just not performing at Newcastle though, it’s unbalanced to the point it’s virtually incapable of performing as required. In hindsight, the early successes of Graham Carr were a disaster for the club in the long term as he gained more and more influence and his successful signings became more and more infrequent. Perhaps without Cabaye, Ba, and the early form of Tiote and Cisse the “model” would have been ditched a long time ago.

This season would be the 4th relegation of my lifetime supporting Newcastle. We’ve always come back before and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t again, should it happen. Benitez and the promise of doing things right that comes with him is a rare chance of positive change for us and in contrast to bouncing back we don’t often take those chances. Maybe we can look back in years to come and say this is when we started to get things right.



  1. sc says:

    Feel for you, mate. A long and winding history of gross mismanagement at Newcastle. Reminds me on a weekly basis of City under Swales/Lee/Thaksin etc. Still, I’ve lived through five relegations and seen a large heap of mismanagement lead to what we have today. There is always light at the end of the tunnel and it’s not necessarily an onrushing train.


  2. toontalk says:

    Wow Mark, normally your posts show some real insight, however here you have your eye on the ball but you fail to prospect at architect of the disaster. Maybe it’s too late for name calling or told you so edicts. There is no way Rafa is staying if we go down or stay up, and therein lies the rub. Rafa is symptomatic of the speculation Ashley has employed at SDFC since he stupidly bankrolled Allerdyce.

    It has been a downward spiral of achievement ambition and league places and nothing has changed. No bounce for Shearer. No bounce for Rafa. No relegation clauses. The man has learnt nothing except to bet more each time. When Sissoko and Debuchy came in, it paid off. Leaving the season to the Janitor last season luckily paid off. For as many successes in Ashley gambles there have been more bad decisions rotting at the core.

    If we go down, Rafa is a gamble in which there is a relegation clause. Paying him big money to stay in the Championship is a non starter. Rafa himself unlikely to gamble his reputation in the Championship, when so many other clubs in the Premiership are likely to want his services. He wants to stay in the Wirral so let’s see if 3 or 4 clubs are after his services come September.

    If we stay up, Rafa will be seen as a gamble that paid off. Money well spent to keep us in the league. But Rafa is unlikely to stay due to an incumbent scout whom is unlikely to see eye to eye with the scale of overhaul and changes to the policy that were STILL in place in January. To keep Rafa would mean a big spend all round. More likely graceful/disgraceful turn around of beliefs/direction such was the don’t call us we’ll call you message to Shearer in 2009. There are so many reasons why Rafa is a 10 game gamble only.


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