With the end of the football season drawing to a close, I've watched 2 matches in the last couple of days. Firstly on Sunday I managed to find an Irish pub in Chicago (full on Man U fans!) and watched Newcastle get relegated at Villa, and then yesterday back in England, I watched Barcelona put on one of the best displays I've seen in a European final to beat Man Utd and win the Champions League. If you compare the state of the two clubs it was like going from the ridiculous to the sublime!
Following Newcastle's relegation the BBC commentator Jonathan Pearce talked of how cruel and heartless the Premier League can be to teams. I thought, 'here we go again, another ridiculous statement about Newcastle Utd from the Media'. Newcastle's relegation has been in the making for the last 3-4 seasons and they got exactly what they deserved due to the fact that they are such a badly run club. Yes they might be a 'Big Club' but if you can only pick up 34 points in a season then you don't deserve to be in the Premier League anymore. To be fair it wouldn't have been unjust if both Hull and Sunderland had joined them and we had 5 clubs go down this season.
The media have some strange obession with Newcastle. The way they're perceived by the media you would think they were one of the biggest clubs in Britain if not Europe, but they haven't won a domestic trophy since the mid 50s. Newcastle are part of a group of clubs in the Premier League in what I would consider the second tier after the Big Four. This would include Villa, Spurs, Everton, and now potentially Man City. I would previously have included Leeds in this group, but we've all seen what's happened to them in recent years.
They all have big support and history, and are looking to break into the top four. The thing they all have in common is that with the money involved in the modern game none of these clubs should ever really find themselves fighting relegation or getting relegated if they are run well and run properly. It's no accident that both Everton and Villa have finished 5th and 6th for 2 seasons running. Everton are arguably the best run club in the Premiership.
For this reason I have no sympathy for Newcastle at all, maybe going down will be the best thing for them and they can start all over again, and perhaps look at changing the whole ethos and mentality of the club.
Compare Newcastle to Barcelona, who really are a true giant of the game, who also represent their local region. Their performance last night was amazing! They looked nervous for the first 10 minutes in which Man Utd looked like they were going to dictate the game, but following the first goal there was only one team in it.
Clearly Utd were below their best and some people have been harsh on them saying that they never turned up, but they did come up against the very very best in world football last night and there's nothing to be ashamed of in that. How often if ever do we see Utd struggle to get hold of the ball, and when they lose it go minutes without seeing it again? The speed, touch, and movement of Barcelona was superb to watch. The played the kind of football that reminds you of why we love the game so much.