• Sat. Jun 15th, 2024

North East Connected

Hopping Across The North East From Hub To Hub

2016 saw the North East’s football clubs in a state of uncertainty. The season started with Newcastle United relegated to the Championship and arch-rivals Middlesbrough back in the Premiership.

Meanwhile, Sunderland stayed up by the skin of their teeth and have been frankly struggling under new manager David Moyes.

Football powerhouse

Of course, it wasn’t always the case. The North East was once one of the great powerhouses of English football, and during the second half of the 20th century, Northern clubs dominated the game.

However, the past 20 years have seen footballs seats of power move steadily south, and the North East’s clubs have been the major victims of this frequently money-driven trend.

Over the years, the North East has produced some of football’s greatest players and characters. One of the most legendary is Northumberland-born Bobby Charlton, whose name is still practically a byword for everything that is most loved about the beautiful game. Paul Gascoigne and Alan Shearer will also go down in history, and Middlesbrough produced two of the game’s most unforgettable managers in the shape of Brian Clough and Don Revie.

Glory days

It’s now 20 years since Newcastle United’s glory days, when Kevin Keegan’s side finished runners-up in the Premiership in 1995/96 and 1996/97, with a team boasting players of the calibre of Alan Shearer, Les Ferdinand and David Ginola. However, within months, Keegan had gone, and with hindsight it was downhill from there. He returned in 2008 but resigned before the year’s end, citing a lack of financial support from the board. The next year, Newcastle were relegated, and although they bounced back in 2010, they were soon struggling again. Since going down last season, they’ve done well in the Championship and may stand a good chance of being promoted.

Anything can happen

If 2016 has taught us anything, however, it’s that in football anything can happen. Leicester City’s Premiership win took almost everyone by surprise, and as 888sportsbetting points out, their winning form went almost uncommented upon until the title was virtually within their grasp.

Middlesbrough are currently struggling in the bottom half of the table, but they have some excellent players who are frankly under-utilised. Manager Aitor Karanka is too cautious and too attached to his favoured 4-2- 3-1 formation when the side desperately needs shaking up. Boro have also been blighted by injuries, but with a bit of luck and a fresh approach, they have a huge potential for success.

Transitional period

Over at Sunderland, the problem is different. Moyes is not a popular manager, but if anything, his mistake is trying to achieve too much, too soon. He wants to bring a more progressive style of football to the Black Cats while also being under massive pressure to win games. So far, it’s not looking too good, but if Moyes is given a chance, then maybe this will prove to be a transitional period before a steady recovery begins.

The golden age of football in the North East seems like a long time ago, but deep underground, the seeds are there for a recovery. Only time will tell if the North East can rise again.