Most supporters would have been happy when the line-up was announced for Newcastle’s match with Maritimo. With the exception of Demba Ba who was on the bench, Alan Pardew named his strongest eleven available players.
The question is though, was the manager brave or reckless putting players like Hatem Ben Arfa at risk of injury for what the manager has always said is by far the biggest priority, the Premier League?
Thanks to Shola’s injury and the failure to replace Peter Lovenkrands and Leon Best, he had no choice but to play either Cisse or Ba, but it was a major departure from the games so far when he chose to play Ben Arfa rather than Europa League regular, Shane Ferguson.
It is also the first time the manager has played his entire first choice back five.
Winding the clock back I have no doubt Alan Pardew wishes he’d left Hatem Ben Arfa on the bench, or at home on his sofa.
The manager was obviously looking for his team to put on a decisive display, get the game won early on and bring the likes of Ben Arfa and Cisse off for an early bath…at least part of the plan came together.
With Yohan Cabaye out for a minimum of weeks not months I think it was a really bad call to play Hatem, especially when Ferguson has found the Europa League standard to his liking, unlike the Premier League where he has struggled.
The irony of course is that now there is a strong possibility that Ferguson will be involved on Sunday when Newcastle travel to Southampton, a match that many are looking at as (yet) another chance to get the season back on track.
Massive improvement is needed from last last night’s match if Newcastle are going to come away with a win.
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