We talk promotion and relegation a lot on this site. A long time ago I said that most Americans probably support pro/rel because they want their team in the MLS and nothing else – they don’t actually support the system, just their team – which is 100% fine, just be honest about it.
Pro/rel seems like a really good idea when you are at the bottom, when all you have is “up”.
What’s it like when it seems like everything is spiraling downward?
Well let me tell you.
My name is Nick Kendall and I am a magpie.
I love Newcastle United. I have irrationally clung to this team since I picked them nearly at random freshmen year of college to fit in with the other EPL fans. Why? ‘Cuz beer. Because they have the same black/white get up as Kendal Town. Because they felt like the kind of team I wanted to root for – not big, not fancy, not filled to the brim with over-paid twats. Hometown heroes, beloved by a passionate and dedicated group of fans.
All these years later, I will never stop rooting for Newcastle. But rooting for Newcastle can be hard. It seems like every season is a challenge but somehow we nearly always pull out of the stall.
None of us are sure. None of us are sure what is happening as we lose game after game after game. As the interim coach makes every mistake in the book. As the players revolt, as the fans let out a sigh of desperation. As boycotts go underway. As the owner is investigated by the government. As everyone points fingers at everyone else.
A trip to /r/nufc is a sad one.
You can hear it through voiceless text.
Defeat. Pain. Agony. Eventually it becomes subdued, emotionless, surrendered.
Relegation is hard.
I’ve already dealt with relegation once as a fan. It isn’t any easier the second time. It really shakes you to your core.
Americans who bang on and on and on about pro/rel probably haven’t dealt with it like this. Haven’t seen a decent team that can be dangerous when in form, fail so spectacularly, so unprecedentedly, and so completely.
I know there are fans of yo-yo teams out there who deal with it every alternative year. I’m sure it sucks. I’m sure getting into top-tier is pretty awesome too.
Newcastle isn’t supposed to be in this fight.
We’re supposed to skate by in 11th place like always, comfortably above this fight and comfortably below the “good teams”.
The hardest part, when a team fails like this, is what do you do? We have three games left, they are all critically important to the club, but if we win all three does that mean the idiot man-child Carver stays? That we are potentially stuck with him for a whole season or more? If we lose and get relegated, can we still get a decent replacement? Will we be considered so poisonous no “real” coach will consider us? What about Mike Ashley our ass-hat owner?
In my book the best scenario is win two. As long as we stay above. We need to win and stay alive, but we need to lose in the end to make sure the season ends on a sour note. We need to get rid of Carver. We know the rot is deep. The real problem is Mike Ashley who has time and time made sure that we the fans know that he doesn’t care about winning – only making money.
The club is literally in his debt and not in a mushy emotional way. Literally. We owe him wads and wads of cash because he’s essentially schemed that even if forced to sell the club is still stuck in his shadow. The Ashley years will go down as disastrous to the club both internationally and domestically.
Mediocrity has become our lot and going so far as to ask for a decent team gets met with a bunch of ManU/Chelsea/Liverpool/ManCity/Arsenal fans putting us back into our “place.” The same twats who constantly bemoan finishing fourth, falling 3-2 in the cup final, getting a single yellow card, or – gods forbid – even losing a game.
Yeah, we’re the one with unrealistic demands.
Is it so much to ask that our team be decent? That it be watchable? That whenever I answer the question “What team do you root for?” I don’t have to preface it with a sigh and a look of indignation?
Is it so much to ask that players not be sold simply for Ashley’s bottom line? That we allow talent to blossom? That we actually hire a manager and not a fucking “head coach”?
That for one, single, solitary, fucking, season I watch my team with a small slice of dignity while we sit comfortably at 9th.
That’s all this magpie asks. Is that too much?
Unless we get relegated, then it better be fucking 1st.