By Andrew Warshaw
October 18 – It was the start of a fresh era, the club’s new Saudi owners all smiles and decked out in black and white, an electric, expectant atmosphere and a tickertape welcome for the players.
And on the field it could not have started better with a goal after just 107 seconds.
Thereafter, however, the gaping frailties and fragilities that have plagued Newcastle United all season and several before – came back to haunt them as they lost 3-2 at home to Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.
If the Saudi-backed consortium, that overnight turned Newcastle into one of the richest clubs in world football following their recent £305 million takeover, didn’t know the extent of the rebuilding task at one of English football’s sleeping giants – or how much money they will have to pour into the club to make it successful – they certainly do now, regardless of when (not if) manager Steve Bruce is replaced.
“No noise from the Saudi boys,” chanted the visiting Tottenham fans mockingly as Newcastle remained winless in the league and one place off the bottom.
It was something of a surreal afternoon with the match suspended for 20 minutes towards the end of the first half when quick thinking from Tottenham Hotspur duo Sergio Reguilon and Eric Dier – named joint ‘Man of the Match’ for their actions – alerted medical staff who raced into the stands to treat a fan who had collapsed and was taken the hospital.
By then, Tottenham, hardly world beaters themselves this season, were leading 2-1 and never relinquished the lead.
And by the time the game ended, the pre-match euphoria had given way to calls for Bruce’s head from the Newcastle faithful.
Whoever takes over from Bruce will no doubt be handed considerable funds to spend in January and will surely manage to keep Newcastle in the division.
The question is, will that be enough to attract the right kind of player to an area of the country where footballing passion is second to none but where the club in question, despite its massive support base, has not won a trophy for decades?
The ambition may be to win the Premier League within five years but there are far more pressing priorities for now.
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