Remy and Ben Ara Combination To Bring Down Chelsea?
Chelsea rock up to St.James’ Park today, can Newcastle revisit their best performance of last season?
Answering this simple question and a few others on the current challenges facing Newcastle United, we’ve posed the questions to Mag writer Tony Poolan.
Alan Pardew wants Papiss Cisse to do a ‘Torres’, can you see him bouncing back to form and what reasons would you give for his fall from grace?
Cisse doesn’t look 100% fit to me – he also is running around like a headless chicken, partly at least out of desperation. Supply to him has been pretty poor to be honest and Pardew’s tactical ability is debatable – which is one of the reasons – but he clearly lacks confidence and needs a break which doesn’t look like coming. He needs to rebuild his confidence away from the spotlight and a spell in the second string would benefit. Unfortunately, we have so little cover that is difficult. He has a proven track record over a number of seasons abroad and you don’t lose the knack completely overnight, so he will I believe start scoring. All strikers have droughts – a certain Mr Shearer had a memorably long one.
Is Alan Pardew part of the problem or part of the solution?
Pardew is part of the problem not the solution – he has a variable track record, is tactically limited and given some of the abysmal first and second halves we have had his ability to really motivate is in doubt. He doesn’t know how to best fit a team together.
What did you think of the team selection for the Manchester City match?
As regards the team selection for the Manchester City game – the club’s ‘plan’ was guaranteed to affect team selection. City are much stronger than us so their ‘second string’ required us to put out a full strength team if we really wanted to win. That didn’t happen, partly because we have a very small squad and are afraid of injuries and because when it comes down to it the regime doesn’t appreciate the desire of the fans to win something. We can’t afford to risk injuries because we are paper thin.
Generally the team was as I expected – not as I would have liked – I do question the substitutions also – you leave the club’s stop scorer on the bench when the game is still there to be won? Also, for me at the moment Cisse needs a run out in the second string to start scoring – as long as the drought goes on against Premiership teams you get the feeling it demoralises him more.
We were set up to be solid rather than spectacular – no playmaker? Tactically you got the feeling Pardew was hoping to ‘nick it’.
What did you make of the performance?
The performance – lots of effort and we had the better of the first half but failed to capitalise – we lacked the final punch. Shola has never had it and Cisse has lost it. Remy I believe might have profited more. As soon as we hit extra time the feeling was always that we were going out in my view. They had more class even though we pretty much matched them and Negredo and Dzeko carried more threat.
Much debate about how committed United are towards the cups, do you think Ashley is relieved or gutted Newcastle aren’t travelling to Leicester for a place in the semi? Same Question for Alan Pardew?
Ashley won’t be bothered – we weren’t in any way embarrassed and I don’t think the cup registers – he might sit up and take notice if by some chance we made it to a final with all of the exposure that would bring but he isn’t going to bust a gut to try to get us there. Pardew I think would love to progress. It is Catch 22 for him – I’m sure he would love to put out the strongest team we have but if we lose players we will struggle in the league and he will lose his job, He could go for it but the risk is too great. Lack of investment in the squad means we can’t take chances. After 50 years off watching us I doubt we will win anything of note any time soon!
What would be your team for Saturday against Chelsea?
My team for Saturday would be:
Krul, Debuchy, Williamson (or Coloccini if fit), Mbiwa, Santon, Sissoko, Anita, Tiote, Cabaye, Remy, Ben Arfa
I would put Tiote behind a midfield three of Sissoko, Anita and Cabaye and allow Ben Arfa a chance to float with Remy upfront. That way we can try to stop midfield runs and also cover the back four, move Cabaye forward to be a playmaker as required and allow Sissoko to be the midfielder he really is.
How do you see that match panning out?
It is difficult to determine how today will pan out – we need to counter the midfield breaks of Mata, Lampard, Ramires etc. but also put them under pressure? Hopefully a big game from Remy and ideally Ben Arfa will have a decent game – unlike recent performances. If they score early we can forget it, despite last year. I’m afraid I can’t see us winning but a draw, given our last week and their current form, would be a decent result. One of our big problems in my opinion is that we have no real width. Obertan is worthless and we can’t keep playing people out of position to try to achieve it. We also only have one consistent playmaker.
Do you see a positive future for Newcastle fans while Ashley owns the club?
I don’t see anything other than lack of investment and lack of ambition for as long as Ashley owns the club. We are in a worrying position and things will only get worse unless things change. Unfortunately, the only way to bring about change is to stay away and boycott so Ashley is hit in the pocket and there isn’t a big enough groundswell of support to achieve it.
What do you think will happen in the January transfer window?
Much as I would love January to bring a decent amount of investment activity I fear we will be disappointed again. We desperately need centre back cover – Taylor isn’t the answer, Williamson is limited and unless people stop turning Mbiwa into the latest ‘Tommy Gibb’ he will continue to struggle to settle – and striking options – Shola long-term anyone? Plus we don’t have width. I am also concerned that despite his obvious talent, Ben Arfa will remain an inconsistent enigma. We also need another playmaker to support Cabaye (or two if he goes!).
If we got a striker and a central defender I would be happy but I fear more than one player is unlikely – unless we are in trouble by then.
Where will Newcastle finish in the league?
We will finish in the bottom half and possibly even as low as 15th – not enough squad depth, poor tactics and too many other clubs strengthening while we don’t. We are workmanlike rather than spectacular and continue to fail to kill teams off. Pardew doesn’t know how to put the talent we have to best use and puts square pegs in round holes.
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