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Back on the rollercoaster

Being a Newcastle fan has often been likened to a crazy rollercoaster ride and I think that this week in particular has done that comparison justice.

What a week it's been. Starting with a totally empty, hollow St James' Park last weekend and another defeat to lower league opposition. Technically, losing 1-0 to Stoke was an improvement on our last preseason friendly, a back breaking 5-1 loss to local rivals Middlesborough. After that loss to Boro the club went dark on it's fans. Either too ashamed to comment, or too worried about the backlash fans would hurl at the media team. Bruce didn't comment on the game even to the club's official website - strangely enough, he hadn't now spoken in public for over a week. After the Stoke game, he did speak on the record to the club's website and commented that the main highlight of the game was that no one got hurt - a worrying omission just 7 days before the season starts. He did add some positivity saying that the club was finally closing in on "1 or 2" signings in the next day or so. Joelinton also reappeared after having somewhat mysteriously gone missing - he was in isolation (allegedly) but the club hadn't confirmed that. Why a player in his position would go on holiday to a place that was known to require 2 weeks quarantine is beyond me, but we'll save that for another day....

That's when things began to change!

As the weekend drew to a close to seemed clear that Newcastle had done some business. First Callum Wilson, shortly followed by former teammate Ryan Fraser, and then rounded out mid week with the exciting signing of young left back Jamal Lewis. It all happened so quickly, fans barely had time to draw breath and celebrate. It's a monumental achievement in my opinion for Newcastle to have signed these players. Bruce today made reference to owner Mike Ashley having to "flex his muscle" financially to make sure the deals got done. I'm not the first to last this week to make that point that these 3 signings are huge for the club. Some are saying that it's the bare minimum that the club had to do this window - but I've got a list somewhere for hundreds of things that the club have had to do over the last 13 years that remain unfilled, starting with the season ticket refunds!

So, not only have Newcastle signed 3 full internationals this week, they've also just announced new contracts for midfield rock Isaac Hayden (6 years!) but also back up goalie Karl Darlow. Focusing on Hayden for a second, he's legitimately one of the best signings of the Ashley era. Barely costing £2m from Arsenal, he's become one of the first names on the team sheet, a dressing room leader and in my opinion a potential England international. He's exactly the type of player that Newcastle United should be signing to a long term contract. Well deserved.

What a feeling for fans. Is Newcastle United finally acting like the club we all want it to be? Is this some sort of mind shift away from the anger and frustration that we've all felt now for so long? Will the owner and the managing director finally start seeing things our way? Well, I don't think we can go that far BUT something has changed at the the club over the last fortnight. Maybe it was the terrible results, maybe it was Dwight Gayle getting injured, maybe it was even Steve Bruce being able to convince Mike Ashley that was a real chance to make something good happen at the club - I don't care what it was, I'm just over the moon with what's happened and now genuinely a little positive going into the season! Hard to believe what a difference a week can make....

Then the other shoe dropped, and the rollercoaster made a hard turn.

Late Wednesday night the club released a statement regarding the attempted takeover. Not the statement we all wanted, but perhaps the statement we sort of expected. The wording was harsh and militant. Ashley wasn't happy with the League and he made that abundantly clear. He's not known as much of a wordsmith and candidly when he does speak he tends to make things worse. Reading the statement quickly in between meetings my first thought was that he intended to fight for the takeover, and take that fight directly to the league. The statement even went as far as naming Richard Masters and blaming him for his actions during the negotiations. That said, on second and third reading it became clear to me that his main concern was his loss of £300m and perhaps not so much the future of our beloved club. Maybe that's being harsh. Publicly Ashley has always said that his main desire was to find the right buyers, buyers that could take the club beyond his level and reach new heights - which is perhaps why it's only ever been this group that's gotten Ashley to the point we're at.

The Newcastle United rollercoaster is a long one, it's windy, it's filled with shallow highs and deep lows. But, in so many ways, we love to hate it. We love to hate Mike Ashley, it unites us, it gives us common ground and something to have almost total agreement in. Rare these days!

So, what a week it's been. A particularly crazy ride on the rollercoaster, and we still haven't played a game yet. This next week is even more important. We've got 2 winnable league games, and a home cup game against lower league opposition - 3 wins would be a massive boost to Steve Bruce and has team and could set us on the right path immediately. Personally, I can't wait for tomorrow, West Ham haven't had the best summer either and haven't been buoyed by new signings so we've got a great shot at leveraging their own angst and stealing another big London win!

Howay the Lads!





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