Do or do not, there is no try

By Lee Ryder on Sep 3, 11 11:58 AM

In a passionate working class area such as Newcastle, telling people "we tried" was always likely to go down like a lead balloon.

Therefore, it was hardly a surprise that the statement released 48 hours after the transfer window was bolted firmly shut until January contained the "we tried" line, it was half expected.

In a nutshell, actions speak louder than words in the world of Newcastle United and failing to emerge without a marquee signing to don the number 9 shirt was never ever going to go down well.

As Yoda once put it: "Do or do not, there is no try."

To rub salt into a very open wound, unlike the January window, Newcastle had much more than a few hours to get a replacement in.

When Andy Carroll was flogged down the road to Liverpool many anticipated the arrival of a new striker pretty early on in the summer.

It didn't happen.

It has been made clear to me that Alan Pardew is far from happy about the situation but there is very little he can do other than walk away.

He couldn't anyway, after signing seven players and making a great start to the season, to some extent he has been backed but it hasn't been easy, losing Kevin Nolan, Joey Barton and Jose Enrique along the way.

It was scant consolation that there was at least some explanation, but the facts of the matter are that United's board have to work hard on a strategy to keep fans informed.

Pardew has fronted all questions about transfers this summer but in reality, the words coming from his mouth would appear to be what he wanted to happen as football manager, rather than what has been happening above his head.

In fairness, the board have agreed to answer the questions of Newcastle United fans via the Chronicle, with 12 questions to the board having been granted.

This is YOUR chance to ask the questions that you want answered and fairest way possible is for us to calculate what the most popular questions are.

Obviously, the question of where's the money gone/going will be one of the most popular but there are plenty of others to be asked.

That is now in the hands of the fans and you can submit your question by going to

There's every chance people will not like the answers.

But hey, this is a start for Newcastle to reopen the communication channel between the board and the fans.

Ideally, it would be an operation worth carrying out on a more regular basis and in doing so, fans wouldn't be so shocked when Newcastle do it once in a blue moon.

At Man City, Garry Cook has regular dealings with the Press and fans much in the way of Chris Mort.

The idea of a general manager/fan friendly chairman (Sunderland have Niall Quinn) is also a route other clubs have gone down and the appointment of a former player would be an interesting development at St James' Park.

Fans will find it difficult to take in some answers anyway.

It would be of little value to come out and say that Newcastle will spend in January and then not follow it through with actions.

But then the board have tried to go the other way too, when claiming there would be "no capital outlay" back in May 2010, which again landed them in trouble.

It all goes back to selling a product, but if the product is trying to save money and produce a team that has only potential, the chances are some fans won't buy into the idea.

It goes back to the old football or business logic argument, and as stated before on this blog you can't be expecting to order an open top bus to celebrate breaking even on financial sheets.

Indeed, it is all about winning football matches, exciting football and moving up the leagues.

That's what generates excitement in this city and as Sir John Hall found out, it also generates money - albeit during a different financial era.

When Newcastle went from the old First Division to the Premier League, everybody and their gran wanted to be seen in Toon merchandise.

Just 12 months earlier, as Freddie Fletcher will testify, the club shop were not even selling an up to date replica kit with fans still swanning round with those awful ironed on blue stars to cover up the Greenalls logos.

Speaking to Alan Shearer yesterday, he stated that Newcastle are unlikely to get into the top six unless money is spent on the team.

So basically, Newcastle United are left trying to sell tickets for a team that might finish in mid-table and might have a run in the cup if we're lucky.

Life is short, and seems even shorter when you've gone 42 years without seeing your team pick up any silverware.

Of course, winning football matches changes things but asking the current crop of players - who have done very well so far by the way - to challenge the top four is a massive ask.

Some of Man United and Man City's performances so far this season has been frightening - but that's what mega money buys you.

Nobody expects Newcastle to be splashing that type of money because that's the way it's been for the last few years.

Without encouragement though that it might change with one or two big signings, the sight of empty seats could be a more regular feature.

As Mark Jensen of the Mag put it nicely: "The sight of any empty seat at St James' Park is a sad one."


toontoon89 said:

great article lee, not everything newcastle are trying to is wrong atm, but i think being stubborn with regards 2 a striker might massively let us down this season - nearly a good window.

dyerturner said:

"it is all about winning football matches, exciting football and moving up the leagues."

Well Lee, if it is all about winning matches then why not give the chance to our current squard and let's see what they can do? So far they are doing pretty well. It is not about just signing a big player or find the striker to fill no.9, I do not mind if Best scored 15 goals and wear the shirt no. 20!!

Little Davey said:

I've never heard top 6 being mentioned, but top half yes. 6-10th would be seen as improvement on last season.
Thats not being unreasonable and would be applauded for sure.
We're not stupid enough to think we are ready for a europa place yet, tho it would be nice. If the board just showed some ambition to improve year on year that would be a start.
But to go into a season without a quality center forward having sold one for silly money 8 months earlier is simply beyond belief, and smacks of gross negligence and incompetance by the board.
Pardew needs to concentrate solely on the football side of things and admit that he has nothing to do with player movements in and out of the club. He is doing a good job as head coach, but should stop being the boards mouthpiece as it is making him look pathetic.

wah said:

Lee, stop letting them off the hook - this will just result in the same responses as they put in their statement on Friday. What is needed is EXPLANATION - press them on their answers, why they weren't bidding for players in their price range? are we really supposed to believe they didn't know the asking price for players as late as 31st August? its simply not credible. As you say actions speak louder than words, and their actions show they weren't seriously trying to spend any money.

Lee Ryder Author Profile Pagesaid:

Unfounded. The Chron is the only newspaper to actually push for some answers. The fact that the board are willing to take questions from fans is a small step forward. I understand frustrations but the right questions have been asked in the past. Sadly, nobody can control the answers no matter how much probing/pressing is done. It will be inevitable that the critics will be out in force when the answers are published.

toonagain said:

Lee, good piece, very good.

If we wanted to watch average football either at the ground we wouldn't spend te money we do on newcastle united. we'd go and watch the Heed or Spartans (No disrespect meant)

Prem football is about fantasy football, if we don't start the season with a fighters chance, even if reality kicks in sooner rather then later why bother showing up..?

Yes we're fans of football and NUFC but if they're going to save their money and not buy players we wanrt to see we should save our money and listen to the game on the radio and read about it in the EC.

Having said that I think bottom line is with 5-6 strikers on the books we were never going to bring another one in simple as that.

I could be way off but it just feels like MA is trying to break the Geordie spirit, spliting the crowd up, bringing the signs down, not buying the symbolic No9, even ripping up the cobbles. To be fair MA's acions and plans are pretty obvious there really isn't any need to ask, we already know the answers.

There really isn't any ned to lie either, most geordies I know are realists and if they said they're not buying then fine we'll take what we've got, but for some reason it appears they think its a good idea to dtring the fans along...

I'd be very suprised if MA didn't try and flog the stadium before he left.

relton said:

this is worrying - the last time I remember there being a question / answer session was our relegation year. this was the same question answer session that saw the inception of Lambias's 5 year plan (! ! ! !).
the very fact that there has to be a question/answer session itself belies a failure of the club. Do man Utd have such sessions - do Chelsea wheel out Abramovich - did NUFC have one when they were running away with the Championship - no, no and no. Forget your questions - the very fact that this forumn is taking place is indicative of failure.

RAF MAG said:

Some good point all round however I have to wonder what the new 5 year plan is?? Empty the ground nearly 20% done already..TICK. Save loads of cash £30,000,000 done already TICK. Have a cluless business man as an owener (with a pitiful board and manager) another TICK in the box.

PS how can AP say he is nothing to do with the transfers once he puts his list in. If thats the case why do the TOP managers go to see players to convince them to join...AP or should I say Oliver...Please sir can I have some more...pathetic.

DJC said:

Lee, i've already said it but clearly MA hasn't added the figures up . Initial outlay for Shane Long would have been about 7 million plus another 2 million per year in wages . First year outlay 9 million thereafter 2-3 million on wages and sundries. Reduction in gates between 10-15000 roughly 10-12 million gate receipts a season without additional purchases , first year break even, thereafter 7 million plus per year capital gain . Whoever has been advising him needs a kick up the backside . This needs to be brought to his attention . For an alleged astute businessman this really doesn't add up. Time toon army showed him that we have our pride and dignity something those in the South don't understand. AS far as they're concerned it's Money, money , money. All we need is an SOS. Perhaps this is his Waterloo. I guess in the end The winner Takes it all


Lee Ryder

Lee Ryder - Proudly born and bred on Tyneside, the Chronicle's chief sports writer has followed the fortunes of the club over the last three decades as a Toon fan and football writer.

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