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  • The Jonas Reaction

    Haven't posted owt on here for a while and I know how much all of you - without exception - love this sort of thing so here goes..

    What a horrible, gut-churning piece of news it was to receive last night when Jonas Gutierrez revealed via Argentinian TV that he has been fighting testicular cancer. Whatever opinion people may have had about his footballing ability there seems to be almost universal agreement that he always gave 100% effort on the pitch whilst being a genuinely popular, friendly and engaging character off the pitch.

    It’s never nice, of course, to hear news of this nature about anyone but Jonas is held in very high esteem amongst Newcastle fans for those reasons mentioned above. The reaction on Twitter as soon as the news emerged reflected this affection as a deluge of positive, supportive messages were sent in the direction of @elgagojonas.

    One of the things this story did highlight is a strange peculiarity that still exists in this ever-shrinking world of global communication. It’s strange to think that it’s still possible for people to give interviews in their home country and for there to be so much left open to misinterpretation. In reality this still happens all the time. We often used to find that the likes of Ginola or Robert would go home to France, make a hugely controversial statement in a newspaper interview and then explain it all away by saying that they were misquoted or the meaning of the comments were lost in translation. And that was just France – a mere swim away! In that context South America almost becomes an indecipherable black hole. Players have the most weird, exotic quotes attributed to them and we end up simply shrugging and left wondering what they meant.

    It seems weirdly anachronistic that we are still left speculating like this. Especially in the case of the Jonas Gutierrez interview as it was on TV therefore there can be no suggestion of being misquoted. What seems to be the root of last night’s confusion is that a very literal translation of Jonas’ quotes emerged shortly after his interview. Those quotes included two lines relating to Newcastle. Specifically “I came here (to Argentina) and I took care of the costs, despite being contracted to Newcastle. Money isn’t important and what matters is your health” and “I then went back to England and Newcastle told me to leave”.

    Taken on face value as a literal translation (with no context) those quotes can be (and indeed have been) used to paint Newcastle United in a very poor light. Yet what is remarkable is that these “literal” quotes are the ones that stick. No real, thorough translation is being widely quoted in the press. No fluent Spanish speakers who actually watched the interview are being included in these reports to give a more rounded interpretation of the tone and content of Jonas’ comments. Instead we’re left with two rather cold-sounding statements that imply the club i) refused to pay for his treatment and ii) told him to go away as soon as they found out he was ill. It’s equally possible that Jonas i) decided to take his own course of action and go home for treatment as he’d feel more comfortable there and ii) the club insisted that he go home and be with his family while he’s being treated rather than stay in England.

    While that uncertainty remains the case, particularly with such a serious story, it’s crucially important that people don’t jump to conclusions. First and foremost we’ve yet to have a statement from Newcastle United. All we know up to this point is that the club kept the information in-house and asked the press not to ask questions regarding Jonas’ absence. Furthermore we’re yet to get any flesh on the bones of these rather stark translations of the quotes Jonas gave last night.

    Essentially, football becomes of secondary importance. This is a good, popular, respected man fighting a very serious illness. We have no idea what the interactions were between the club and the player. We know there were contract issues, we know he was sent out on loan to Norwich but we don’t know how much or how little support Jonas has received from Newcastle United during his illness.

    In addition to the context of Jonas’ quotes on Argentinian TV we also cannot ignore the club background to this rotten scenario – namely that we’ve played terribly in 2014, and Alan Pardew’s popularity is currently at an all-time low. The two facts are, of course, totally unrelated. Jonas’ illness doesn’t in any way change how bad our results and performances have been. However, there’s a definite undertone in a few articles I’ve seen that this whole sad situation could become another stick to beat Alan Pardew and Mike Ashley with (as though we were somehow short of sticks!).

    When I see respectable Newcastle publications using antagonistic, Daily Mail clickbait-style headlines like “JONAS GUTIERREZ BATTLES CANCER WITHOUT HELP FROM NEWCASTLE UNITED” (that’s a genuine headline!) I feel hugely disappointed to see that sort of speculative, spiteful rubbish being used to report on such an upsetting story. Stories like that have genuine influence. You only need to scan through the #NUFC tag on Twitter to see how many people are now also suggesting that Alan Pardew has been out of order through all of this. You end up trivialising a horrible illness into mere leverage for the sacking of an unpopular manager.

    We expect this kind of brainless tat from some of our tabloids. But we as fans really ought to be able to rise above it. There are plenty of other reasons to criticise the manager – indeed, he should still be made fully aware of those criticisms at the weekend – but let’s leave this story off the charge sheet.

    Get well soon, Jonas. Los mejores deseos de partidarios de Newcastle United!

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