Pardew’s Players, Not System, Failed
Alan Pardew might have been a slow burner for many of us, especially coming in on the back of some shoddy treatment for Chris Hughton by the club. However, especially this season he has increasingly impressed me, a what is a ridiculously hard club to handle, even when things are going relatively well!
Preferring to play Ryan Taylor to Hatem Ben Arfa against Manchester United? What a result!
In recent matches though I have been even more impressed as the manager has risen to the challenge of missing at least half of his best players in long-term injury Steven Taylor, plus our three players at the African Nations.
Considering how small a pack he was left to deal, I think it is inspired the formation he has come up with to get the most out of players who are a million miles away from our best players in terms of ability.
A 5-2 reverse at Craven Cottage will now always be in the record books but the formation had worked to perfection….until individuals let it and the manager down.
The idea of playing Best and Ben Arfa either side of Shola, which then alternates between a kind of 4-5-1 when defending and 4-3-3 when attacking, both gives Hatem the freedom to attack while it has unleashed a whole new side to Jonas Gutierrez in a free role in midfield.
For fifty minutes United were cruising and should have been out of sight by two or three goals, missing goalscoring forwards it wasn’t to be and in football it just needs one slip to change the balance of power.
In the end it was four individuals who conspired to gift Fulham their game-changing equaliser.
A terribly weak and slow Ameobi failed to retain possession up front, Santon was caught further up field than is healthy and in trying to get the right side of Duff he brushed against our ex-pathetic winger. The faintest touch was all Duff needed to throw himself to the ground and from there, referee Lee Mason stepped forward as the fourth individual (shame he hadn’t been the fourth official instead) to award a very soft penalty.
I’m sure Alan Pardew won’t be ‘throwing the baby out with the bath water’ and will be drilling into individuals where they went wrong, rather than his system.
Speaking on the club’s official nufctv from their break in Tenerife, Pardew had this positive message going forward;
“It (Fulham) was a disappointing game, but not a disappointing weekend, fortunately. The other results mean we are still right in there, and that’s where we want to be.
Arsenal lost, Stoke got beaten and Chelsea got a draw, so we find ourselves in a not too different position to where we were at the start of that game.
It’s gone now – there’s nothing we can do about it. We will reflect on the second half and make sure that never happens again.
We just lost our way. That can happen in the Premier League, but there is nothing to panic or worry about.
We are in a fantastic position, and if our fans are a little bit concerned after Saturday, they shouldn’t be. We are looking at those above, don’t worry about that”.
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