AlanPardew12Alan Pardew, for reasons only he can explain, changed the team set-up from the one that proved so successful last year and somehow got us a fifth place finish, to the beautiful long ball 4-4-2 formation this year with disastrous results.

Maybe he thought a more defensive approach would take the opposition by surprise but whatever the flawed thought-process behind the decision,  it proved to be an abject failue. Whatever the reason, it didn’t sink in that we were playing rubbish and that the new system wasn’t suited or liked by the players we had on the pitch, we now find ourselves fifth from bottom and in a real relegation battle.

I’m often slagged off by many supporters about my constant criticism of Pardew but in my opinion his biggest mistake this year was persevering with a formation that clearly wasn’t working. Good managers like Mourinho would famously change tactics after 10 minutes if he saw his set-up wasn’t right during a game but Pardew stuck with this flawed formation for 17 games before he realised it wasn’t working. Then again Pardew isn’t fit to lace Mourinho’s boots so maybe a tad unfair to compare the two.

Layout 1After the QPR game Pardew must have suffered a serious blow to the head (probably by simply trying to get his big head through a standard size door because rumour has it all the doors in St James’ Park had to be widened after he got the LMA manager of the year award) and in his concussed state decided to revert to the winning formula of last year.

As we saw against Man U and Arsenal, we do in fact have the players in the team that can play football in that newfangled 4-5-1 / 4-3-3 formation that everyone else plays, and that we can in fact compete against the better teams in the Premiership. Even with all the injuries we have that the pro Pardew lobby use as a defence to our lowly league position.

Our injury ravaged team took the game to Man U and Arsenal and it was great to watch, even though we lost, because the players knew they played better that way and they much prefer playing within a 4-5-1 formation….but that’s all history so let’s move on.

So here we are in January fresh out of being humiliated yet again by a Brighton team that hadn’t won in December and we have 17 games to scrap it out for our Premiership survival.

Question is, do we attack our way to survival or try and defend our way to survival.

Number of factors to consider….

Captain Colo’s mind is knackered, we can’t rely on him to tighten up our defence so most definitely a cause for concern.

Santon is attacking very well but defending poorly.

Williamson is a disaster waiting to happen and Perch’s best position is no doubt as a defensive midfielder.

Our new signing Debuchy likes to go forward, therefore more than likely going to leave a big hole behind him when he races forward which we need to watch out for.

If any of you Pardew fans out there really do think we’ll get in any more defenders better than the ones we have now during this January transfer window then you really are living in lala land.

Good chance we’ll get a striker in but not one that has real Premiership experience and can make the same impact Ba would have if he had stayed.

So in summary we have a back four that for some reason just can’t defend this year even though they did very well last year (I wonder if Pardew has noticed this yet!) but reinforced by Debuchy, we’ve lost our main in-form striker so there’s no doubt we’re worse off in that department too, but the very good news is Cabaye looks like he’s back tomorrow and there’s no way Pardew will opt for the long ball game with him in the team, but then again who knows what goes on in Pardew’s head.

But hold on, there may be light at the end of the tunnel, there’s news we’re after a left footed left back…what a novel idea that is…pure genius…why didn’t I think of that!

Just imagine; a left footed left back, Santon at right back, Debuchy on the right side of a midfield five with Obertan sold off to France with a bit of luck, Marveaux on the left hand side of a midfield five, Cabaye, Bigi and HBA when fit as the middle 3 with Cisse as the main striker.

Does that sound like it’s a bit more balanced?

BenArfaSQ71That formation should do us when we’re playing the weaker teams that come to St James’ Park and when we play the better teams at home and for away games we could keep the same formation but change the personnel…

Debuchy right back, HBA right hand side, new left back, Jonas left hand side of middle, Perch, Cabaye and Bigi in the middle with Cisse up front.

What Pardew sometimes forgets is you need different players within the 4-5-1 formation depending on who we’re playing and where. We should be sticking to the same system so everyone knows their duties and we should revolve the team accordingly.

In my opinion with our defence being so uncertain I think we have no option but to go for the 4-5-1 set up and attack our way to premiership survival rather than try to defend it by using that pathetic 4-4-2 formation, combined with a back four that aren’t playing at all well this year…what do you think???

Buy the new Mag from your local newsagents (on sale at over 450 different ones) from Saturday if you live in the north east, alternatively buy a single issue (only £3) or a subscription (from £23) in our online shop and get it delivered through your letter box wherever you live in the World.



I can't understand Shearers reluctance to criticise Ashley directly. Is it just me or is there a rabbit off somewhere?


I don't think Newcastle will get relegated, having said that though I also feel that they look least likely of any PL club to get another win this season, they can't score enough goals, and are conceding far too many! I'm really hoping that having Cissé and Sissoko back will make some kind of difference, combined with the potentially positive influence of De Jong coming back there's a slim chance we could get another win out of somewhere and save ourselves! We have a couple of winnable games, however I think if we don't beat one of Leicester or QPR, it'll likely be an extremely nervy final day of the season!

Keegan Quitter
Keegan Quitter

He should know about getting relegated. How dare he have the barefaced cheek after his pitiful performance as a manager in 2008-09. He couldn't even get anything out of his "mate" Michael Owen to get us one measly point.


You have to remember that a) Shearer only had 8 games in charge, by which point they were basically relegation fodder anyway, and b) the man had never coached before, a great player doesn't necessarily make a good coach, and you can't deny that Shearer knows a hell of a lot more about football than Carver!