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Newcastle United’s Average Start Puts Alan Pardew Under Severe Pressure

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Another day, another humiliation. Newcastle United’s capitulation against Southampton last weekend was the fourth time this calendar year that the Magpies have lost by a four goal margin. Southampton helped themselves to four last season against Newcastle at St Mary’s in March whilst Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur helped themselves to goal gluts at St James’ Park.

If the stats are expanded out, Newcastle in the Premier League conceded three or more goals 11 times last season – it is an unflattering number to say the least. This season they have already shipped in three or more goals twice having played just four games.

If we look at results from this January to May, Newcastle’s record in the Premier League reads as follows:

Played – 19

Won – 5

Drawn – 1

Lost – 13

It makes for dismal reading and understandably the natives on Tyneside are restless. The target of their ire is Alan Pardew. The manager is far from alone in the unpopularity stakes at Newcastle United but he is bearing the brunt of the criticism at the moment with the quality of football, let alone the results, not being good enough.

Pardew’s record has been laid bare on the website www.sackpardew.com and it doesn’t make for pretty reading.

It is fair to say that Pardew has not, and probably never will be, universally accepted amongst the Geordie faithful. Some of the problems have not been of his making as he has been left hung out to dry by owner Mike Ashley but by that same token Pardew by action, deeds and results has not helped his own cause either.

Former Newcastle goalkeeper Pavel Srnicek claimed in The Chronicle that the blame should not lay completely at Pardew’s doorstep. He believes that the structure at the club needs to be looked at.

“I think the biggest problem at Newcastle is that the owner doesn’t give any responsibility to the manager. He doesn’t control many things at the club so he is undermined by the opinions of others”.

Srnicek went on to say that the structural problems inherent within the club will hinder any manager wanting to take Newcastle to the next level.  He cited the sale of Yohan Cabaye last January as a key factor in Newcastle’s slump. At the beginning of 2014 Newcastle sat in eighth on 33 points after 19 games. In the following 19 matches Pardew’s side only managed to pick up 16 more points and finished the season in 10th on 49 points.

Cabaye’s sale was handled by Joe Kinnear, who left Newcastle shortly after the Frenchman’s departure to Paris Saint Germain. Ashley’s decision to hire Kinnear in the first place as Director of Football was a bizarre one to say the least and for a while appeared to undermine Pardew greatly. Pardew was shrewd enough not to be drawn in too deep into the Kinnear debate and saw off a potential rival to his position.

Supporters of Pardew will point to his first full season in charge of Newcastle (2011/2012) where he steered his side to a fifth place finish in the Premier League and earned him the Manager of the Year award. However that finish was counteracted the following year with Newcastle ending up in 16th place.  The argument goes that if he deserves credit for steering the Magpies to fifth then he’s equally responsible for their poor positions too.

His on field dramatics haven’t shown him in the best of lights. Pardew famously (or infamously) had an ill-advised tête-à-tête with David Meyler. He also had a run in with Manchester City’s Manuel Pellegrini, in the game that Cheick Tiote’s thunderbolt was ruled out for offside and pushed an assistant referee when his side beat Spurs at St James’ in 2012. There’s being passionate and then there’s being Pardew.

In fairness to Pardew though, off the pitch he represented Newcastle United with class and dignity when the club were mourning the loss of two of their fans who tragically lost their lives on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

Looking at purely footballing matters on a coaching level how many players has Pardew managed to improve during his time at Newcastle?

Did Pardew improve Yohan Cabaye’s game or did the Frenchman’s presence raise Newcastle?

Papiss Cissé has been a shadow of himself since his initial explosive start to life in the Premier League. Is Pardew utilizing Cissé properly?

He has alienated the club’s most naturally gifted player in Hatem Ben Arfa and sent him out on loan. Is he really ridding the club of a ‘disruptive’ influence or can he not coach maverick talents?

Tim Krul has matured in goal in Pardew’s tenure but is Pardew really getting the best out of his defense? Last season Newcastle kept 10 clean sheets in the league the same number as Hull City and Liverpool.

Why is the Newcastle attack not functioning properly? Newcastle were found wanting up front last year as they failed to hit the target in 16 of their 38 league games. To put that into context only Crystal Palace, Norwich and Cardiff had worse records. Is Pardew’s perceived dependence on direct football and long passes blunting his forward line?

It is imperative for Pardew and his coaching staff to tighten things up at the back and get sharpen the attack of the Magpies if he is to sway the disaffected support.

Newcastle United have been busy over the summer in the transfer window bringing in the likes of Siem de Jong (who is unfortunately injured at the moment), Rémy Cabella, Daryl Janmaat, Emmanuel Rivière and Jack Colback to name a few. The former West Ham manager recognizes the squad he has at his disposal is probably the best he’s had during his tenure at Tyneside.

“We have more depth and more quality and when I signed a long contract with Mike and the club we both knew there would be ups and downs for both of us,” he said.

“It was fairly obvious he listened to me at the back end of last year and the support I’ve had in terms of the signing of the new players is exactly what was needed.

“I’ve nothing to moan about now in terms of what’s happened this summer.

“We have a strong squad, perhaps the biggest and best I’ve ever had in terms of options so we’re in a great position.”

At the time of writing Pardew is expected to be in charge for Newcastle’s match against Hull City.  David Moyes and Steve Bruce are the leading contenders to take over at St James’ Park should Pardew’s services are dispensed with. A report in the Guardian states that Pardew’s position is strengthened by the eight-year contract he signed in 2012. With six years left to run on his deal and Pardew’s backroom staff on similarly lengthy agreements the cost of clearing out the entire coaching staff will be expensive.

Pardew is pleading for time to allow the new signings to bed in and for the team to gel. Unfortunately, his recent record does not lend credence to the notion that he’s the right man to turn Newcastle United around and the Toon Army is quickly running out of patience, if they haven’t done so already. Most recently at St Mary’s, protesting Newcastle fans clashed with assistant manager John Carver and during the game they vented their frustration chanting ‘Alan Pardew, it’s never your fault’ and ‘we want Pardew out’.

Should Newcastle lose against Hull his position may be considered untenable though, with Mike Ashley in charge nothing is ever crystal clear. The cost of getting rid of Pardew and his backroom staff may cost Ashley and Newcastle a fair few pounds but with Newcastle sitting at the bottom of the table and with genuine fear of being in a relegation dogfight, then it may spur the board to act.

Pardew can rest assured knowing that Hatem Ben Arfa, on loan at Hull, won’t come back to haunt him directly as the Frenchman will not be allowed to play against his parent club. If Ben Arfa was eligible to play the football gods would no doubt ensure that he’d score the winning goal against Newcastle. That said a heavy defeat against Hull could be too bitter a pill for the Newcastle board to stomach. Pardew is fast running out of allies on Tyneside and time is most definitely not on his side.

The Chronicle towards the end of last season published the savagely clever headline P45DUE. If Pardew fails to turn around the club’s fortunes soon then he can expect his P45 (the UK equivalent of a pink slip) in the post.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. StellaWasAlwaysDown

    September 17, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    Average start? They currently sit at the very bottom of the table! New Castle definitely needs to figure out some things as they’ll have some tough competition in 4 of their next 6 matches with the likes of Swansea, Liverpool, Spurs, and Hull.

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