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???

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  • tbpierrot

    More negativity… but i agree with large parts of your formation idea – but respectfully, id rather keep debuchy in defence and push santon or marveaux to left wing, then hba right hand side with freedom to roam, cisse through the middle and cabaye, anita and bigi or tiote in the middle – whoever protects the back 4 better from bigi and tiote.

    • Mark Roberts

      again that could work depending on who we’re playing…there’s defo a possibility of Santon replacing Jonas as the wide left man and I wouldn’t be opposed to that either so long as we play the right system and get the team playing like we did last year then I’m sure we’ll start getting the results we need to stave off relegation

  • BB

    I love the fact that you obviously see yourself as some kind of tactical genius. Quotes like this are gold:

    ‘What Pardew sometimes forgets is you need different players within the 4-5-1 formation depending on who we’re playing and where.’

    Uh huh. Have you ever coached a team?

    • Mark Roberts

      nice one! it was said tongue in cheek because for some reason it hasn’t dawned on Pardew yet!

      • Tone Army

        Here we go again, you slate the manager because he does not rigidly play the system/players YOU want him too? has it dawned on you that no matter how good a system or team looks on paper there is another team of players to factor into the equation, literaly anything can happen, hence phrases like “its a funny old game”, last year we were a suprise package, this year the majority of opposition knew what to expect, shame on the rest of the league for not rolling over for us each week..
        You name a side with players played out of position, one imaginary player & one sold on, so again as a fan I do not concur with your opinions & hope the wheels fall off your anti-Pardew bandwagon with a few good results/performances that I know this club as a whole (management, team & fans) is perfectly capable of.

  • JR Ewing

    You can play any formation either attack minded or defensively. The key to it all is really quite simple: You keep the ball and don’t let them have it because without it they can’t hurt you. What we haven’t seemed to do this season is retain the ball as well and Cabaye is the reason for this, he makes himself available to everyone on his team, he advances the team (not just a full back or a winger) 20 yards up the pitch at a time, he IS the class act and IS pivotal to everything we do well. Look at the game against them from down the road, when Mr T was redcarded (Totally unjustly as their striker was still able to play on) He kept the ball, we kept the ball, they gave up, just lumped it and somehow managed to score (Ba and the long ball again)
    Games last season when we got beat, we got beat heavy against sides who kept us off the ball. There were exceptions to this of course, Norwich for starters and tomorrow we should avenge this because if we don’t then all of the negativity that surrounds NUFC at the minute will really start to fester and seep down all over all of us.
    So be positive because Newcastle United Will Never Be Defeated.

    • Mark Roberts

      can’t argue with any of that. I love watching the spanish play and how they swarm the ball so whoever has got the ball always has at least 4 options no more than 10 yards away…they just move around the park waiting to off load the killer pass. Cabaye is central to that and the sooner we get him back the better.

      Everyone we’ve played so far this year has had 5 across the middle and that stymied our midfield 4 on every occasion so our supply to the front two was always cut off. Hopefully with Cabaye back in the team that will change

  • Glyn Wade

    When the last few games come round and we are still near the bottom i think 4-4-2 will be a thing of the past. Krul will probably be launching it to about 5 people up front (none of whom can head the ball!!). I can’t see us adopting Wigans style of play to get out of trouble. Pardew seems to be paying the price for adopting the purchase method of trying to run a club rather than adopting a system of play that the players fit into. He alluded to this when he said CIsse might move back up front when Cabaye returns, implying that Cabaye is the only person capable of passing to Cisse. Like JR Ewing says we need to keep the ball. I have just got home from watching my 7 yr old son play at Aston Villa. If one of the kids loses the ball the coach stops the game and explains how to keep the ball. If Villa are playing like that i would have thought we should be doing the same. Living in the Midlands now i don’t get the chance to watch our youth/reserves etc. Are they encouraged to launch it? Probably not. Now that Ba has gone you couldn’t say we don’t even have the players to launch it. Shola and Cisse don’t hold it up too well really. Lets see what happens tomorrow. 4-0 to us i reckon.

    • Mark Roberts

      I’d be happy with a clean sheet draw to be honest. They will bombard us like they did last year and rough us up as much as they can. There won’t be a lot football played tomorrow and I think it’ll all be down to character and sheer graft. A draw tomorrow and build from there…our home performances will get us out of trouble

      • Mark Roberts

        we got the draw with the clean sheet so well happy…Reading next…we’ll beat them for sure!

  • Jamie Hardesty

    This article was great, I especially liked the tone and agree with what you’re saying. A very enjoyable read – thanks.

    I’m a Pardew fan but he does have to be criticised, some of the things he’s done this year have been inexplicable. The defence, as you say, is a huge concern and we’re really now looking to Cisse to produce the goods.

    My view on the main point of this article coincides with yours – the 4-4-2 must be abandoned although I’d preferably like to see the players in their natural positions. Your observations are spot on about how people have played this season but I disagree with you about Santon. He IS a left back – albeit he is right footed, whenever he has been tested at right back he hasn’t shone.

    Regards, Carryingcoals

    • Mark Roberts

      Cheers Jamie…as you can see I don’t often receive messages of positive nature but appreciate your kind words none the less.

      Personally still not sure about Santon as a left back…if he stays on the left then I think he could become a good left sided midfield player who could also operate on the right if needed. Somewhere in the back of my mind I remember him having switched to right back for the latter part of a game and looked really good but without a left back in place we’ll never know how good he could be as a right sided player either at full back or in midfield but I’d love to see the club give him a go on the right.

      We got a good draw yesterday and an all important clean sheet so happy with that…3 points off Reading who unfortunately have 2 wins on the bounce after yesterday is the next target and I’m pretty hopeful we can do that too