More than 19 years after leaving Newcastle United, David Ginola is still able to turn heads on Tyneside.
The Gallic virtuoso captivated the Geordie faithful with some dazzling displays and was a key part of Kevin Keegan’s ‘Entertainers’ side which so nearly won the title.
But as his former club battle to avoid their second relegation in seven years, the Frenchman suggested on national radio that they should throw up the surrender flag.
As supporters salute the appointment of Rafa Benitez and savour a precious point after the 1-1 draw in the Tyne-Wear derby, the timing of Ginola’s vision for the future is bizarre.
It may be depressing to hear it season after relegation-threatened season but next weekend’s game against Norwich has the potential to one of the biggest in the club’s history.
A win at Carrow Road would give the entire city a massive boost, giving everyone a tangible sign that Benitez can bring salvation. Defeat does not bear thinking about.
And yet that is the first part of Ginola’s reboot strategy – stop fighting.
The Frenchman believes after five years in the Championship, combined with a complete overhaul of the club, Newcastle United could rise like a phoenix from the flames.
But the reality of his proposal would be more likely to see decades of history burned up as the club quickly implodes. To assume the club can loiter in the Championship before making a return to the top flight when they are good and ready defies recent history.
Leeds United, Nottingham Forest and Sheffield Wednesday are just three clubs with huge fanbases that have been unable to clamber out of England’s second tier.
And with Mike Ashley in charge, does anyone really believe the prospects for Newcastle United would be any better?
The club were able to bounce quickly in 2009 but make no mistake, there are some serious differences this time around.
First and foremost, the financial ramifications of relegation are greater than ever as television money gives top flight clubs unprecedented sums to play with. Even after a potential fire-sale, simply making ends meet would represent an enormous challenge. Ashley may be “wedded” to the club but that does not mean he has to love it or lavish it with cash.
And unlike 2009, there does not appear to be a core group who you could envisage staying and having the necessary quality to facilitate a change in fortunes.
The likes of Kevin Nolan, Joey Barton, Alan Smith and Fabricio Coloccini gave the club a solid spine to build around.
Who would form that unit this time around? Jack Colback? Jonjo Shelvey? Coloccini? Would they even hang around?
Fortunately for the club and its supporters, Ginola suggests the answers lie in the club’s academy.
Unfortunately, investment in Little Benton has seen precious little return even since the turn of the century. Comparative successes like Fraser Forster and Andy Carroll have not been able to fulfil their potential on Tyneside and took their talents elsewhere.
Paul Dummett and Steven Taylor are the best examples of homegrown players in the current squad, which doesn’t say much, while hotly-touted youngsters Rolando Aarons and Freddie Woodman appear set to depart, incredibly, on free transfers.
Anyone who is prepared to bet the future of the club on an academy with that ‘success’ rate clearly has more money than sense – and that seems to sum up Ginola’s somewhat idyllic vision.
Most fans would enjoy the idea of removing Mike Ashley, ushering in a youthful revolution and cleaning the slate – but without the money and nous to back it up, five years could be hasty. Similar to his ill-fated campaign for the FIFA presidency, the Frenchman’s arguments just do not correlate with the modern world and appear staggeringly naïve.
As a man who played in one of the most ambitious and adventurous teams in the Premier League era, his view – even with its good intentions – represents a stark and disappointing contrast.
Another of Ginola’s teams, Aston Villa is already preparing for life in the Championship. While there is still a chance, Newcastle United should try and stave that same mentality off for as long as possible.