It’s two-thirds of the way through the season, and purported big clubs Newcastle and Tottenham remain entrenched in the relegation rumble.
Newcastle sputtered amid boardroom confusion, after the departure of manager Kevin Keegan. Tottenham played woefully under Juande Ramos and their squad has flat-lined after an early revival from Harry Redknapp and his magical ketchup. Both teams sit within five points of the drop.
Both Tottenham and Newcastle have an odious stench and many neutral detractors. So it begs the question, which big club relegation would be more enjoyable?
Newcastle escaped from Fat Freddy Sheppard’s unctuous palms when Mike Ashley bought the club. Ashley’s had his poorly thought out moments, notably wearing a Newcastle shirt, boozing it up with the patrons and bungling the Kevin Keegan fiasco. But, despite the Cockney Mafia signs, he seems to have tried to the decent thing. Genuinely hurt by the fans’ response, he made a good faith effort to sell. Any more misery piled on him seems gratuitous at this point.
Levy, in contrast, deserves whatever pain comes his way. Spurs are on manager number seven during his chairmanship. Damien Comolli was successful everywhere else. Martin Jol and Juande Ramos are doing decent jobs in their new gigs. Levy has been ever present, as have the same problems – a babied squad, overspending on attacking players and an incompetent back four. Levy has taken no responsibility for consistent failure. Nor has he changed tack. Relegation would be fitting.
Apart from the pantomime Joey Barton, Newcastle’s players pose no problem. They can hardly be blamed for their hodgepodge assembly under a succession of managers, board leaders and financial environments. Most will be playing for other squads next season, regardless of the league. There is no particular glee from seeing these players relegated.
Tottenham, however, would be delightful. Their players epitomize the problems with English players. They would rather toil in lucrative mediocrity while enjoying the London lifestyle at Spurs, rather than challenge themselves at a Big Four club or a Champions League club elsewhere in Europe. Their players are gutless in pressure situations. They celebrate minor triumphs disproportionately. It would be fantastic to see Tottenham’s players down.
Joe Kinnear is a pompous dinosaur. The thirtieth-choice manager rolled into the Premier League on a whirlwind of vitriol. His comments toward reporters, referees, and players have been clownish, both in subject matter and sentiment. During the initial recovery it was his doing, when the team began to falter again, it was the players fault. He deserves the stain.
Harry Redknapp is greedy, slippery and always for sale. He’s been linked, but not charged with transfer corruption. He’s manipulative. But, no one outside the greater Portsmouth area would accuse the man of being evil. He’s no Kinnear and he’s worth keeping around, at least for his jowls.
Newcastles Geordie fans come with all the assorted jokes. They’re louts, lardos and drunkards. When shirtless, it’s hard to tell the men from the women. They are probably unemployed. They support their team beyond all reason on message boards. But, they are true, passionate fans – you would have to be to root for Newcastle. They would be pathetic and heartbroken.
Spurs fans are abusive, racist and homophobic, which is marginally worse than Newcastle’s Mido-directed malevolence. What edges the judgment toward them is expectation. Spurs spent heavily in the summer, forcing fans into the delusion of a Champions League place. For Tottenham fans to travel from those heights to relegation in nine months would be catastrophic, and amusing for those not involved.
Conclusion: It would be far more enjoyable if Tottenham went down.