As I was walking along the Formartine & Buchan Way out of Fraserburgh this morning I watched the sun rising over Cairnbulg Castle in a blaze of glorious colour and wondered what I could write about Newcastle United at the moment. As an aside, Fraserburg’s Highland League football team has historic links to the Magpies. They play in the same colours having had their first kit provided by Newcastle when they were formed in 1910, supported incidentally by local boy Wilfred Low who played for the Magpies at the time. Anyway, to return to my morning thoughts fuelled by the fresh sea breeze and the general ambience of the daybreak, I felt that I should be jumping for joy and filled with excited expectation of triumphs to come after three straight wins, the first two of which were somewhat unexpected. My mood, however, was one more of mellow satisfaction when I should have been fired up and looking forward to the next game. That made me think about the motivation present at the club. What is it that currently motivates the management, the players and the fans? As far as it is possible to tell, Mike Ashley’s plan for the club this year is playing performance terms is not to win anything but to be mid table, an average Premiership side. Not much to get fired up about there! So what is it that is pressing the Pardew Kinnear buttons, makes the supporters smile or, for one game at least, turns Shola into the player he always seemed to have the potential to be, whilst remaining the ‘nearly man’ until his performance last Saturday? Most sports people are highly competitive and it’s a strange thing about people with a competitive nature – if there is no chance of winning, they tend to stop competing. If the manager and the team focus on one game at a time, their competitive nature might motivate them to try and win it but when there is no chance of winning any silverware, there is an underlying psychological factor urging them to ‘switch off’. As a collective unit, the fans have a similar psyche and, as with the management and the team, there has to be some other strong motivation to urge them on and suppress the tag that labels them ‘average’ or ‘failures’. Alas, I can’t answer the question that I have posed with any confidence but can merely surmise that the management’s motivation lies somewhere within the privilege of holding the positions they do at a great club, and the fans motivation to continue their support lies within the securely encased tribal loyalty that is virtually impossible to shift. As for the players, I can’t help thinking that for most, the motivation lies not in respect of loyalty, passion and respect for the club but within their personal ambition to play for their country in the forthcoming World Cup, to secure a move to a more ambitious club that perhaps will pay them more or simply to ensure that they continue to be able to play for somebody in the elite confines of the Premiership. Hence, as the sun continued its ascent into the morning sky, I wondered how fragile was whatever motivation that surrounded us and if the fresh, inspiring dawn would later set into renewed gloom and discontent.