Magpies Need To Evolve To Fly Again
I watched Sunday Supplement this morning and evolution was the running theme of the show. Now, having sat through Manchester United’s crushing 3-0 defeat of my beloved Newcastle this weekend, I feel the time has come for Alan Pardew to finally embrace change and evolve this current Newcastle side.
Pardew has started virtually every Premier League match with a standard 4-4-2 formation, the game at Goodison Park against Everton being the exception. Hatem Ben Arfa was shifted to the left in a five man midfield, with Sylvian Marveaux a virtual passenger on the right hand side and effectively Newcastle only had 10 men during a hapless first 45 minutes. So why is the 4-4-2 formation that served the magpies during the first half of last season so well, now becoming a total hindrance?
If Ba and Cisse are both starting as strikers, you’ve got to give them two wingers who can supply good service. This brings me to my second point…Jonas Guiterriez. I for one adore Jonas, his work-rate is unquestionable. However , his end product is average at best and rarely troubles the stat makers when it comes to assists. His place on the left wing has to come into question on output alone.
On the right hand side, Hatem Ben Arfa does have end product, but is not an out-and-out winger and will quite often drift inside. This combination on both wings is continually starving both Ba and Cisse of service and ultimately goals for both.
With the lack of creativity in this system, goals are not flowing and the midfield two have been outnumbered every week.
With the current crop of players at Pardew’s disposal (mainly since the January transfer window), 4-3-3 has been pretty much Newcastle’s most successful formation. Pardew has found himself switching to this in virtually every match this season and why the magpies haven’t started with it more often, is curious to say the least. The manager’s willingness to accommodate both Ba and Cisse in the starting eleven, can be the only reason he hasn’t deployed it on a more frequent basis.
Having watched the Bordeaux game on Thursday, I thought I had started to watch the team evolve. Although the side was a mixture of first team and fringe players, the shape looked perfect. A centre midfield trio of Tiote, Cabaye and Anita looked composed, assured and nigh on world class at times. Obertan, Shola Ameobi and Cisse were rolled out as an attacking three and the outline of the eleven looked seamless.
Moving forward to the weekend, I wondered whether Alan Pardew would be brave and roll this out for the Manchester United game. I was hoping to see the same midfield three again, and maybe a front three of Obertan, Ba and Ben Arfa.
However, deep down I suspected we’d see a 4-4-2 again and so it was. What was also predictable is that once again, the midfield was completely overrun until changes were made mid-game, moving players out of position just to get a foothold in the game.
Pardew needs to be brave. The team needs to evolve. If fan favourites such as Cisse and Jonas have to sit on the bench for the good of results, then so be it.
Let’s see the Magpies get 21st century and embrace the 4-3-3.
Neil also writes for the excellent State Of The Game Website.
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