On Boxing Day Newcastle Were 3 Points Off Champions League Spot – What Went Wrong?
After what was a mediocre opening month or two, Newcastle managed to put together a good run, beating teams like Chelsea, Manchester United (at Old Trafford, but who doesn’t these days) and Stoke City (a crushing 5-1 victory, albeit against nine men).
Newcastle were sat pretty then with 18 games returning 33 points, in sixth place and just three points off a Champions League place.
Since that Stoke game it has been all doom and gloom and left many fans asking, where has it all gone wrong?
The change in Newcastle’s fortunes has been dramatic. After the recent defeat to Stoke, Newcastle now sit in ninth place, closer in points to the relegation places than that much coveted fourth Champions Lague spot. It is very difficult to explain why such a change in form has taken place and finally fans are now beginning to question Alan Pardew.
There have been many articles written covering the failings of the club and Mike Ashley in the transfer market, leaving the squad short in key areas and making the manager’s job much more difficult than it needs to be, I’m sure most won’t question that, but there must be an ability in a manager to work with what he has available.
Pardew has not shown the ability to pick up points when missing his main goal scorer in Loic Remy, granted it is never easy to replace a goal scorer but there are plenty of other ways to win a football match.
Take the job Tony Pulis has done at Crystal Palace. The football might not be easy on the eye but it is very effective, which is what it needs to be when missing key players. You can see a solid shape to his team, they are difficult to score against which means even without a high scoring striker they are always in with a chance of winning games as they ofen need just a single goal to get a maximum points. Then to add to this he is one of the most creative managers in world football when it comes to set-pieces, you see brilliant variety every week which gives them an excellent chance to get goals.
Contrast this to what Pardew serves up for Newcastle. There are always plenty of players kept back, deep in their own half, in an attempt to “defend” but there is no real shape, no plan to deal with runners and ultimately once one goal goes in, goals two and three usually follow.
Then consider the set plays, an issue which was acknowledged by Pardew in a press conference last season, showing how poor and ineffective they are. Pardew claimed they were hard at work to devise clever and inventive set plays; however we still see the same floated ball into Mike Williamson which has yet to result in a goal. So without a real goal scorer, and with the team creating few chances, it is very difficult to get anything from games.
Alan Pardew’s job cannot be easy, working with one hand tied behind his back, but with his free hand he cannot conduct this orchestra to all play from the same song book, let alone in tune.
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