The outlook for the toon is pretty gloomy right now, any team lining up against us clearly has no fear and realises we are there for the taking. I think a lot of ‘mid-table’ teams have improved this season and every game is proving difficult with all the demands on our small squad.
Looking at the fixtures coming up, the only games where I fully expect a win are at home to Wigan and QPR, although I am fully aware Wigan are a half-decent side and QPR will be a different prospect in a few weeks time.
I predict Christmas will have come and gone and 2013 Calendars will be on the wall before we hit the 20 point mark, it’s far to early to mention the R word and I firmly believe it won’t need mentioned but it’s bad enough I just had to type that.
I have watched nearly every game this season and I honestly cannot remember a good 90 minute performance. I would say only in the first game vs Spurs did the players show some fire, where they went for it with a high tempo approach; against Southampton we just looked scared and ultimately, defeated from the start. No leadership, no belief, no spark from anyone, the confidence looks totally shot. We couldn’t string more than 3 passes together. It could easily have finished 5-0.
Pardew needs to sort it out pronto and I think he is capable. Last season proves that. You can’t finish 5th by chance but some of the tactical decisions he is making at the moment seem crazy to me and clearly to others as well. 4-4-2 is a non-starter, it should promote width and attacking at pace down the wings but we rarely got behind the Southampton defence and we simply don’t have the players to play that system. Ferguson isn’t ready, Jonas rarely produces (I love him like most of the fans do but he isn’t good enough in my opinion), and Sammy was poor when he came on, although our expectations of him can’t be too high, he is a raw talent.
Ba and Cisse don’t appear to be able to work together and they both appear badly off form, their ability to retain or pass the ball at Southampton was hopeless; mind you the service mainly came from 50 yard Williamson hopefuls, it’s like he has a default setting that nobody can change! I think Pardew has been flummoxed ever since Ba stated that he doesn’t want to play on the left of a front 3.
Pardew has talked in the past about wanting us to become a team that can keep the ball and control games, there were times last season when we managed that but this season we look lost. There is no cohesion, no rhythm, and no high tempo stuff, while defensively we look like conceding 2 or 3 goals every game.
I would love Pardew to experiment with a 4-3-1-2, or a midfield diamond. Surely a midfield of Tiote, Anita, Cabaye and HBA would be able to keep the ball/control a game and provide some decent service to Ba & Cisse. It’s a shame this theory is knackered and will never be put to the test at the moment due to all the injuries. At this point I must add that I probably wouldn’t be writing this if the injuries weren’t so bad but c’est la vie.
Ashley missed a huge opportunity to take this team to the next level in the summer, a few signings could have made a huge difference. We punched above to finish 5th last season but it’s true that the potential was there to kick on and challenge for the top 4 this season. What makes it worse is 4th place really seems up for grabs with Arsenal, Liverpool and Spurs all looking inconsistent. Unfortunately, this season is flatter than my granny’s pancakes when compared to last year and for me it’s not changing any time soon and may forever be a case of what might have been, if only the head honchos had committed the cash to improve the squad.
Yes I am just a fan on the outside that doesn’t know what goes on behind the scenes with transfer fees etc. I think other clubs would try and squeeze a good deal out of us for a player we wanted, due to our recent success stories, but I never got the sense we were actually willing to spend a little bit extra to get the players in.
Williamson continues to infuriate me, while Simpson and a few others simply aren’t good enough to be considered our first team/regular players. We have a lot of fringe players who seem unable to step up to the plate.
It is laughable that Pardew talked about challenging for the top 4 during the first few weeks of the season after we had signed next to nobody and had the Europa League to contend with. If I ever see Williamson in a toon shirt with that Uefa Champions League logo on his sleeve then I am lacing up my boots again. Just to add to the negativity…what happens to HBA, Cabaye etc if/when we finish around 12th this season? I certainly wouldn’t blame them for considering a move elsewhere.
I apologise for the doom and gloom nature of this article but that’s just how I see it at the moment, maybe it’s just me venting my frustrations, anyway feel free to present a case for me to be more optimistic…