The Messiah myth at Newcastle United

By Lee Ryder on Sep 28, 12 10:42 AM

If there's one thing that makes me laugh from people outside of Newcastle, who don't seem to be able to grasp the passion that generates within our football mad city, then it has to be the notion that Geordie fans always feel the need for a "Messiah" in charge of their club.

This notion was neatly summed up by a couple of Aston Villa fans with their banner: "Who's your next Messiah, Ant or Dec?" when the club was relegated and since then I have heard even Alan Pardew referred to as the next Messiah from people that live south of the Tyne.

Firstly, there has only been one bloke known as "The Messiah" and that was Kevin Keegan.

He won the tag by transforming fortunes of Newcastle in 1992 by turning the club around with help from the millions of Sir John Hall and changing the club from a team fighting against relegation to Division Three into a European outfit and then title contenders in the space of a few years.

Don't get me wrong Sir Bobby Robson also turned the club around during his stint in charge and delivered Champions League football.

Was Robson a Messiah?

Well in his own words no, he just said: "Just call me Bobby."

I would say that the Tyneside public were grateful for the job he carried out and we'll never forget the memories, but after Bobby, having covered the club there is no way that the men who came in afterwards were hailed as a Messiah.

Graeme Souness came in with a bullish approach but after realising the enormity of the task soon began blaming everything from his own players to the training fields of Benton.

Glenn Roeder had good ideas and a feel for the club but was never afforded the same pots of cash that were awarded to those before him.

A change of ownership then resulted in Sam Allardyce being backed by Mike Ashley before the club owner, who then sat with fans, appeared to listen to public opinion too much and replaced him with Kevin Keegan again.

But with benefit of hindsight, Keegan the second time was never going to work.

Keegan was a man who loved to sign his own men, sell them the dream and then reap the benefits.

You only need to ask John Beresford or Rob Lee that.

And he also loved the big name signing that got the fans purring with anticipation like a Tino Asprilla or an Alan Shearer.

Yet he was never going to get that while Dennis Wise was picking players like Xisco and Nacho Gonzalez for him and expecting him to get the best out of them.

I look at Newcastle since Keegan walked away for the last time, and I see a board who aren't going to be told what to do by their manager.

And in Joe Kinnear and Chris Hughton that's exactly what they got.

Alan Pardew knew the circumstances when he took over the job and has worked well within the resources available to him, while also appointing some key figures in the background like John Carver and Steve Stone.

With chief scout Graham Carr's eye for talent he is also fortunate to have one of the best scouts in the game in his backroom.

The fact that Pardew was handed an eight year deal shows that Newcastle can go forward under his guidance.

The current board clearly feel they are in it for the long haul - or at least tying the manager down to a long-term deal suggest they are.

However, the commitment must work both ways and the manager must be backed accordingly.

Handing Pardew a long-term deal has been viewed as sensible business by Newcastle.

Yes there are questions that fans would still like to be answered.

But at least it is obvious to the public here now that there is a plan in place.

I personally don't think Pardew would even want to be known as a Messiah.

He comes across as a down to earth bloke who just wants to get on with his job and deliver success.

And I think most Newcastle fans can see him for what he is trying to do.

So those from outside Newcastle who have us down for a demanding bunch that want trophies every season from any given Messiah could not be further from the truth.


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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