Football pints taste better though.
As summer ends and windows close, we find ourselves left outside again, cold, miserable, and thinking about maybe buying a new coat to give some joy to our otherwise soulless existence.
Too much? Most definitely.
We’ve been here before, as some are all too keen to point out. But this time it is different, this time the fan dismay is shared by that of the manager. A manager built for transfer windows, a manager who needs transfer windows, and a manager who doesn’t deserve the transfer window he’s just lived through.
For all the times I’ve criticised Benitez it has been two-fold. On the one hand, I find his football dated, inflexible, at times mind numbing, and ultimately not the type of football I want to be watching or even see a memorable future in. The second reason is being told that I should ignore all those personal, purely football opinions because of his CV and what he represents to people other than myself.
Arguably the first part wouldn’t bother me as much if I didn’t let the second part bother me as much as it shouldn’t, but at no point did it mean I didn’t want him as manager.
Because Benitez has a trait uncommon with his predecessors, that thing our owner seems to regard as a flaw, the desire to be better.
His previous successes have been the result of a system so honed to perfection that upgrading the parts is the only logical next step. A system perfect for cup runs, steady growth and building a foundation with which a club can stand. It’s not based on emotion, but concise thinking. His team, like many others are a reflection of the man himself, which as someone that holds Keegan to be the greatest living human might go some way to explaining why I haven’t quite warmed to him yet.
Respect and understanding is where my Benitez loyalty lies. Respect for what he’s done in the past and understanding that whilst improvements might be incremental, they’re still improvements. I still stand by glorious failure still being fucking glorious but again, blame Keegan, my lord.
Which is why yesterday’s deadline day was more infuriating than usual. It’s not even about the money or him not being in control, it’s about telling him that he was. He loves transfer windows because it allows him to improve the cogs that work the machine, he’s sometimes great at it, sometimes terrible, but usually it’s for the betterment of the side. His side.
I don’t even mind the director of football model, not that that’s what’s happening here, but were it not for Ashley employing coaches plucked from obscurity on the cunt carousel then Graham Carr might be viewed in a different light.
But again, it’s the lies about control and investment that have left us with a souring manager and a fanbase ready to turn on each other as soon as they work out what the Retweet rate is on planning a protest.
St. James’ and the surrounding internet has become quite the psychological experiment. At this point I’m not sure if I should sing, wave a flag, never go again, or join a march co-ordinated with the appropriate authorities.
Being honest, I’ll probably just go to the match with my dad and have some pints afterwards. And if we win I’ll likely not move from the settee the next day. It’s the way it’s always been.
Fan groups however are in vogue, presumably something to do with Borussia Dortmund, and of course they can be effective. The PardewOut campaign whilst arguably only forcing the hand of Pardew himself (which is to be commended) rather than making an owner complicit, presented the facts we’d been staring at for years to an audience south of Gateshead. And more recently on a positive note, the Food Bank and Gallowgate flags have been a benefit to the community and atmosphere. All three have a clear message, which have clarity and importantly, a lack of ego.
As a fanbase we’ve been ridiculed for our delusions of grandeur or our lack of patience. Past failed managers have backed this up so it must be true, even our current manager has spent more time talking about how we need to support the team than anything else. It’s all shite man.
Nothing, absolutely nothing unites a fanbase more than winning matches, and if you can do that with style then you’re onto something worthy of being called special.
Yet here we are again, dividing ourselves because of our despot owner doing what he does. Some say they’re done if Rafa walks and part of me wants to book him the taxi. Others will never go again until he leaves, or unless they get a free ticket or it’s a big game or we start winning. And if he does walk then The Chronicle might have a hard time praising the new singing section for our wins ever again. Attitudes and Honour judged, forgotten and replaced with every passing game.
Ashley is the root cause of all our problems with deceit and an inability to learn proving formidable in the race to the bottom. Hopefully Benitez is hanging around because he knows a guy that knows a guy that wants to spend £300million on a new toy.
But ultimately the fans are the ones watching the shit-storm roll in, shit-storm roll out, shit-storm roll in. It’s not our fault and never has been. Some might be able to walk away and that’s fine for them, but I’m not sure I’d ever be able to truly enjoy something else knowing that the lads, even the utter shit ones, were playing at home.