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Who Said Alan Pardew Was A Long Ball Merchant?

7 years ago
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Over the last few months I have heard countless disgruntled Newcastle supporters brand Pardew’s tactics as ‘long ball’ and aimless.

There has been no doubting the inconsistencies of Newcastle’s last 18 months with some baffling decisions made, however this is one view that should be put to bed.

We won the prestigious title of ‘most long passes’ in the league last season, with 2,283 long passes attempted, the key word being ‘attempted’, that was an average of 70 a game.

However, a recent Opta stat suggests that our direct way of play may be a thing of the past.

It cannot be argued that the days of looking for the big man upfront, with the likes of Carroll and Ba providing that all too tempting target, provided fans with many hair-pulling moments. With the odd exception of goals assisted by Tim Krul…

What was more frustrating to the long suffering fans was the loyalty to this tactic, while selecting players who were unsuitable to this role of isolation. I’m looking at you Papiss.

Recent statistics though, show that Newcastle top the table for most passes leading up to a goal in the Premiership, with an average of 5.4 passes per goal.

This shows a clear shift in our pattern of play this season, with our perceived long ball game remaining a stigma on Pardew’s tactics.

The emergence of Anita this season suggests he has played a big part in this change.

Before the Liverpool game he held an impressive pass completion rate of 88% out of 342 passes. His composure and commitment to playing the simple pass has allowed the more creative players, such as Cabaye, to focus their attention further up the pitch.

Revisiting the tactic which retains a three man midfield, which gave us the lion share of our successes during 2011/12, has allowed this style of play to work.

Too much last season was relied on Cabaye to pick out the perfect, game changing pass from 40 yards, acting as our proverbial quarter-back. He now has more options close by, which in turn opens up more space to attack forward.

The two man midfield of the past made it too easy to be outrun by most premiership teams who lined up a three, or sometimes five, man midfield.

Pardew stated his intent to turn Newcastle into a more possession based outfit, with patience and short passing being the key mantra. Cabaye backed this up through explaining this was worked on from the start of pre-season training.

While we should not be holding our breath to see a mouthwatering team goal such as Arsenal’s at the weekend, with our recent inconsistent performances, it shows sign of promise that we are looking to evolve as a team.

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