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Five Things Newcastle Fans Learned From The Liverpool Match

8 years ago

Pardew retains the support of his players

Despite many fans believing that Pardew’s time as manager has long since been up, it seems that he still has the backing of his players. The morale-sapping drubbings suffered at the hands of Man City and Everton have been countered by poised and confident performances against Villa, Cardiff and now, Liverpool – all of which suggests that the players haven’t thrown in the towel and remain united. Their confidence is brittle and inconsistency can almost be taken for granted now but there is plenty of cause for optimism.

Last season’s over-reliance on the long ball is being phased out and Pardew is trying to play to his side’s strengths – utilising their pace and power to be more incisive in attack. Defensive frailties remain a cause for concern but Pardew is showing a willingness to adapt and to think of the bigger picture; dropping Tiote, Cissé and Ben Arfa in recent weeks shows that he’s thinking of the team more than any one individual – which hasn’t always seemed to be the case in the past. That may just have re-earned him the respect and trust of a group of players who could be forgiven for having doubted his capabilities.

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Cheick Tiote may be coming back to his best

Cheick Tiote had a fantastic debut season in the Premier League and was equally influential the following season when we finished fifth. Since then, unfortunately, his powers have been on the wane and his stock had fallen so low that fans were relieved to finally see him lose his place to Vurnon Anita this autumn. However, in recent weeks he has appeared re-energised and has put in a number of impressive performances. It’s too early to say that the old Cheick Tiote is back but the signs are promising and Pardew handing him the captain’s armband in the absence of Fabricio Coloccini will do his confidence the world of good.

Yoan Gouffran is the unsung hero of the French Revolution

Of the five Frenchmen who arrived in January, it was probably Yoan Gouffran who was the least heralded. There was much fanfare about the trio of Debuchy, Yanga-Mbiwa and Sissoko who were already full internationals with years of experience in Ligue 1, while young left back Massadio Haidara was being earmarked as a great prospect for the future. The odd one out was Gouffran, who had been a solid, if unspectacular performer for Bordeaux over the last few seasons.

Now, however, it’s Gouffran whose star shines brightest. The national media may not have picked up on his reliable performances and happy knack of nicking a goal but he is slowly becoming a fan favourite. His attitude is first class and, while clearly a more limited player than the likes of Ben Arfa and Rémy, his willingness to roll his sleeves up and get stuck in has seen him earn a well-deserved starting berth.

Yohan Cabaye is a man on a mission

Despite his grovelling apology and his acceptance that he has a lot of making up to do, a cynic could be forgiven for suggesting that Yohan Cabaye is playing to finally earn himself a big-money move away. Maybe he’s out to prove to Arsene Wenger that he’s every bit as good as Mesut Ozil, or maybe he wants to show David Moyes that he is more than worthy of a starting berth in Manchester United’s midfield. Or, of course, it could be that he really is full of remorse and is determined to make amends and to regain the fans’ trust.

Cabaye may well leave in January but the transfer window is shut for now and it’s in his best interests to maintain his current level of performance – regardless of whether his motives are honourable or not. His goals against Everton and Liverpool were outstanding, while his all-round performances in recent weeks have been equally impressive. Long may it continue.

Newcastle aren’t a one-man team

In the wake of his match-winning contributions against Fulham and Aston Villa, many on-lookers were quick to suggest that Newcastle were a one man team. It has certainly appeared that way at times and while there has been a tendency to be overly-reliant on Hatem Ben Arfa’s mercurial magic, the team’s performances in recent weeks have shown that far from being dependent on him, they may well be better off without him. Sure, he may win matches single-handedly at times but he also has a tendency to go missing in games and he can be a burden rather than an asset. No team can afford to carry a player and Newcastle are no different. Ben Arfa remains a favourite of Alan Pardew but the manager has exhibited a ruthless streak when he has needed to and is not averse to dropping the Frenchman if he isn’t pulling his weight.

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