Is Alan Pardew In A Lose/Lose Situation?
With Newcastle gaining a much needed point at West Ham this weekend and perhaps more importantly, Swansea City managing to spectacularly stage a 3-2 comeback win at Wigan, Newcastle now hold the fate of their Premier League future in their own hands.
Although whether Alan Pardew’s side are capable of gaining the vital points required remains far from certain…
Because Wigan can still gain a potential 6 points, no team in the bottom half of the table are technically yet safe. Wigan might be known as the Premier League’s perennial great escape artists but with their remaining fixtures being against Champions League chasing Arsenal and Paul Lambert’s resurgent Aston Villa side, few will back Wigan to do the impossible once again. Tonight truly was a ‘must win’ game for Wigan and whilst they still have hope, it’s certainly fading fast.
11 Stoke 41 -10
12 Fulham 40 -11
13 Villa 40 -21
14 Southampton 39 -11
15 Sunderland 38 -12
16 Norwich 38 -22
17 Newcastle 38 -23
18 Wigan 35 -23
Anyway I digress, back to more important matters – what do Newcastle United now have to do?
Whilst Wigan’s defeat tonight will most probably be the result that condemns the little rugby club to an 18th place finish and Championship football next season, Newcastle still need points of their own to ensure we keep our place in the division.
So just what does Pardew do in light of Wigan’s defeat, If Newcastle can get a point from QPR and Arsenal beat Wigan next Tuesday, following their FA Cup final game this weekend, Wigan can’t overtake Newcastle.
Can though Pardew afford to go to QPR and play for a draw? I mean in all probability he will do exactly that. Looking at our recent away games at West Ham and West Brom, both were very similar in the sense that Newcastle played a good first half of football, only to find themselves frantically hanging on for a point in the second half, offering little to nothing going forward.
If this trend continues and Newcastle again ride their luck, rather than maintaining an attacking and game winning intent, against a team already relegated and set to finish bottom of the league, then what kind of message does that send to fans?
Each week, more and more of us lose patience with Pardew. I’ve never been a big Pardew critic and I still applaud the fact that I genuinely believe he understands what football means to the area and that he has immersed himself in our unique footballing city culture in Newcastle, but the fact remains – his tactics, team selections, substitutes and mentality instilled into the first team have been simply baffling and not at all good enough. Admittedly, Pardew’s passion cannot account for his failure to manage a talented group of players to the required standard.
So what I’m saying is, if Pards continues to approach away games in the same vein as the displays at West Ham and West Brom, playing for a point rather than a win, he will not only be lambasted by frustrated and disillusioned supporters, he will also then have to hope Wigan slip up. Paradoxically, the safe option of being conservative is in fact a risk itself!
The reason I’m calling it a lose/lose situation though is because if Pardew does go all out in winning the game and QPR come away with all the points, Pardew will get berated for not playing for a point when Wigan are likely to get nothing from the Emirates! Catch 22 Monsieur Pardieu!
That is the difference between being a manager and a fan of course. Whatever the manager does, he will be criticised by the fan who is pressure free. There is a possibility that Pardew could go all out for the win on Saturday and indeed bring the 3 points back to St. James’ but if recent results are anything to go by, I’m not too confident of that at all – yes, even against a side set to finish bottom of the league!
This is all speculation of course, fans will eternally dispute what is best for their team and for many, whatever Pardew does is irrelevant now, having already lost the faith of many of the club’s supporters.
What is more certain is the fact that Swansea City did Newcastle a colossal favour in managing to beat Wigan tonight, I think most of us are in agreement that this is the result that probably keeps Newcastle up.
Of course Wigan could lose to Arsenal and beat Villa on the final day of the season, meaning Newcastle would need a point from QPR (or Arsenal) to stay up. The possibilities are almost endless; Norwich, Sunderland, Southampton, Aston Villa, Fulham and even Stoke could all face the Premier League trap door, every team is still in desperate need of picking up points.
Have the toon got the bottle to beat the league’s bottom side?
Jamie has his own blog which you can visit here
New issue of our magazine on sale in all Tyneside newsagents from Saturday, or order now online for only £3 (plus postage) for Worldwide delivery straight to your door – copies posted out tomorrow (Friday), or why not start a subscription – prices from only £23.
If you would like to feature on The Mag, submit your article to [email protected]