The North East was once a place for great footballers and managers alike. With players coming from all over the continent to play in the famous Black and White of Newcastle United and the famous Red and White of Sunderland. Nowadays, when you think of North East football, you tend to think of boring, dull and poor football. With Sunderland staring back-to-back relegations in the face and Newcastle facing yet another relegation battle, what has happened to North East football over the years?
The fall from grace that Newcastle have experienced is nothing short of remarkable and unsurprising. With a total lack of investment and refusal to break a nearly 13 year-old record transfer fee is it any surprise that Newcastle are now a relegation team? Since Mike Ashley has taken over the club, they have finished in Europe once, been relegated twice and very rarely spend money. This shows why they have fallen from grace when other teams have started spending money. For example, Bournemouth spent £20 million on Nathan Ake in the summer, Newcastle barely even spent £20 million in the whole transfer window. With an average player being priced at £20 million, or more, Newcastle will struggle to stay in the Premier League for very long if Ashley doesn’t sell up or fork out for Rafa Benitez to build the team he wants. However, the problem isn’t just Ashley not spending money, the problem goes much deeper. With people like: Joe Kinnear (twice), Dennis Wise, Alan Pardew, John Carver and Steve McClaren being given jobs has been a big problem over the years. Every single one of those people have had a hand in turning Newcastle United into what it is today. This is from signing poor players, offering poor advice, not knowing how to pronounce one of your own players’ names to coming out with ridiculous statements. All these things have made Newcastle look like a laughable club that has no idea what it is doing.
The exact same can be said for Sunderland, who not so long ago were finishing in the top half of the Premier League table. Now they’re staring relegation into League one directly in the face. It seems that between the two big teams in the North East that it is more of a competition of who’s owner can be the worst. Ellis Short isn’t a fan favourite on Wearside at the minute as he continues to not spend any money on players and only put the bare minimum into the club to keep it afloat. Sunderland have gone from a steady top flight team, to a team that can’t even compete in the second tier of English football. This is all down to poor decision making from the board. They went for so many years chopping and changing managers every year to survive and it eventually caught up to them with relegation last season with no stability at the club has ultimately resulted in what can only be described as a disaster.
No matter how big and well publicised the problems are at the top North East clubs, the struggles for the teams lower down are growing. Hartlepool are experiencing their first season outside the Football League and are finding it tough. They have been sitting just above the relegation zone for most the season. If it wasn’t for two back-to-back wins in the last week they could have been facing the possibility of another relegation. However, the news of a takeover being completed soon it seems to have boosted the mood at the club. This season just needs to end as positively as possible and then look to push for promotion back to the football league next season. Which seems ludicrous for a team like Hartlepool who, not so long ago were minutes away from potentially going into the Championship; however, once again poor ownership and boardroom decisions has cost this club more than anyone could have imagined.
Gateshead are a different team all together as they just can’t seem to get those few players into their team to push for promotion and seem to be stuck in the National League mid-table, unable to make any progress. Which also shows once again that a lack of investment into a North East team is costing it dearly.
This is the main reason why North East football teams have went from being in the top leagues, competing for cups and titles every year, to just looking to survive from now on as that is seen as an achievement. North East football lacks investment, commitment, passion and desire from owners and boardroom alike. They lack the geographical location that other teams have as it is not near London, it’s cold most of the year and this is one of the key reasons why players decide to go to other clubs over teams like Newcastle and Sunderland.
What do you make of these thoughts? Let us know in the comments below!