Football

The football club that doesn't want to win?

Updated 1036 GMT (1836 HKT) April 20, 2015
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Newcastle United are struggling. The English Premier League club has lost five games in a row and could yet be relegated from the top division. For the club's loyal fans, it is the latest in a long line of recent disappointments. Despite an illustrious past, the third biggest stadium in the top flight and a hugely passionate fan base, the club is without a major trophy since 1969. Chris Brunskill/Getty Images
Newcastle elevated John Carver into the role of head coach when former manager Alan Pardew left for Crystal Palace in January, but the club's increasingly threadbare squad has only won two of the 14 games he has been in charge. Matthew Lewis/Getty Images
The fans' ire is largely directed at owner Mike Ashley, who they accuse of treating the club as an extension of his business empire. The retail tycoon is worth $4.6 billion, according to Forbes, and has turned Newcastle into a profitable club, but supporters say there is a poverty of ambition under his regime.
Newcastle's season lurches from one disappointment to the next, the latest coming on Monday courtesy of a 2-0 defeat at Liverpool. Michael Regan/Getty Images/file
Adverts for Ashley's Sports Direct stores are emblazoned everywhere around St James' Park. The team also has payday loans company Wonga as its shirt sponsor, a decision that has angered supporters and politicians. The leader of Newcastle City Council, Nick Forbes, told CNN the club's association with both brands is "cheap and tacky." Matthew Lewis/Getty Images/file
The oft-used phrase "football is a religion" really does apply to Newcastle, according to Forbes. It is a one-club city, and United's home ground St James' Park dominates the skyline. Forbes says: "It's often said we have three cathedrals in the city: the Anglican, the Catholic Cathedral and St James' Park." Dave Thompson/Getty Images/file
Pardew was not a popular manager after replacing Chris Hughton in December 2010. Under him Newcastle did finish fifth in the 2011-12 season but it narrowly avoided relegation the following season. Pardew's decision to swap Newcastle for Crystal Palace, a smaller club in the English Premier League, also prompted fans to questions the club's ambition. Richard Heathcote/Getty Images/file
Newcastle's policy of recruitment is to purchase preferably young foreign talent with sell-on potential. A case in point is Yohan Cabaye, who was bought in 2011 for a reported $6.3 million and sold to Paris Saint-Germain in January 2014 for $28m. He wasn't replaced and the club won just four of its next 16 matches. Stu ForsterGetty Images
In fact, during the whole of the 2013-14 season, Newcastle didn't sign one permanent player. The club has stated that its aim is to finish 10th or higher in the Premier League but that the two domestic cup competitions "are not a priority." Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
It is a far cry from days gone by when Newcastle were known as "The Entertainers" under Kevin Keegan and came agonizingly close to winning the Premier League in 1996. More recently, the late Sir Bobby Robson led them into the European Champions League in the 2002-03 season. Stu Forster/Getty Images/file