Can Alan Pardew Survive Without His Biggest Excuse?
There has been a lot of debate over the past 2 seasons about the future of our beloved manager – Alan Pardew; should he stay/hould he go?
The NUFC hashtag on Twitter is perennially churning out various views on whether the self-styled ‘Silver Fox’ should stay in his previously reputable position of Newcastle boss – some say he is working a very challenging job with incredibly difficult seniors. Others say he is a complete waste of space and is better off down in Londo.
Recently – after a 2-1 FRIENDLY defeat to Oldham Athletic (in which we were without several to the majority of our key players) the #PardewOut yet again resurfaced on Twitter. This is not an ‘Anti Pardew rant’ – nor is it ‘Pro Pardew propaganda’ – it is simply asking the question based on several facets of management that I believe a former LMA manager of the year should be displaying.
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Pardew has often displayed good man-management ability when called upon, which is very important in the modern game as he aims to keep the huge egos of the modern day Premier League footballer in check. As we heard from the media, Coloccini’s dad, Coloccini’s uncle, Coloccini’s pet parrot, Coloccini wanted to sign for San Lorenzo. Only problem was they couldn’t afford him. That’s that then. Apparently not, Coloccini himself entertained the thought of moving back home to Argentina – and therefore Pardew stepped in with a recorded line from Ashley saying he wouldn’t be going anywhere.
Good man-management? I have a feeling it had more to do with San Lorenzo having ideas above their station. He was however liked by former manager Kevin Nolan and Joey Barton – so that must count for something, right?
This isn’t to mention the poor treatment he has given some of our key players – the way he has frozen out Hatem Ben Arfa for being slightly chubby is more than admirable. He has managed to suck any amount of talent from an extremely gifted footballer all because an attacking midfielder doesn’t track back enough.
I often hear that Pardew’s man management is one of his key strengths too, and his weakness lies in his tactical ability. Why has Pardew not asked Ashley to bring a tactical coach in to help him out?
With the above being said – performances on the pitch have on the whole been pretty stable, the last few months of 2013/2014 notwithstanding. However, I fear that stable is all we’ll ever be under Alan Pardew. I do not think he has the tactical nous to take us to the next level, regardless of the summer rebuilding that is occurring.
His constant use of the 4-4-2 formation with Sissoko wide right, Gouffran wide left and Tiote-Anita making up the central positions is criminal. A 4-4-2 relies on tricky wingers with good delivery – something neither Sissoko nor Gouffran have in abundance. Both very hard workers and will protect their full backs, but Pardew has told them not to bother attacking either – as we heard from Mathieu Debuchy not too long ago.
The 4-4-2 can work in modern day football – I don’t believe the formation is dead, just our players don’t fit the style he wants us to play. When we play 4-2-3-1, we most commonly see Tiote and Anita in the midfield 2 – any manager worth their salt knows that these players need to be good on the ball for the formation to succeed. Our set-piece woes have been well documented too, something that I would rather we didn’t rely on – but at least had the basics sorted in order to stop losing cheap goals if we were in the ascendency of a game.
By my reckoning – Pardew has played nearly every player in our first team squad, with the exception of Tim Krul, out of position at some point in his tenure. Yanga-Mbiwa at full back, Ben Arfa as a striker, Davide Santon as a centre midfielder, Moussa Sissoko as an attacking left midfielder?
Cisse on the wing, Remy on the wing, Ba on the wing, even Shola on the wing at one point. Surely a formation change would benefit the team rather than playing people in unfamiliar roles? This is only highlighted through the fact we have played 7 different formations at the start of games in the Premier League last year (whoscored.com) – with Ben Arfa tried in 6 different positions, Anita in 5, Sissoko in 6 and YangaM’Biwa in 3.
The most annoying thing about it however is the complete aversion Pardew has developed towards the 4-3-3 that we used with considerable success toward the back end of 2011/2012. We only used this 4 times throughout 13/14 – and the majority of the time it was with “hard workers” in Sissoko and Gouffran in the wide forward positions, effectively making it a 4-5-1. A proper 4-3-3 allowed Tiote and his considerable weaknesses to be protected by the hardworking nature of Jonas Gutierrez, and the flair and creativity of Yohan Cabaye. It allowed Ben Arfa to attack without worrying about his defensive duties – and it created enough chances for Papiss Cisse to score 13 in 14 games. He’s only scored 10 since.
When he arrived here, he was a supremely confident manager – he talked boldly about Carroll not leaving the club, talked of conducting the St James’s Park orchestra and even won manager of the year. The Alan Pardew I saw on the last day of the season, cowering in his dugout in an attempt to hide from the crowd that once supported him, was not a confident one.
Pardew is in for a big 6 months. He can claim the rest of his time on Tyneside he was working with one hand tied behind his back – Mike Ashley has never backed him thoroughly in the transfer market and has never allowed him to start a season with the amount of players he has wanted.
He sold his best players in Yohan Cabaye, Demba Ba, Andy Carroll and Jose Enrique. That has all changed, with the signings of Siem De Jong, Remy Cabella, Jack Colback, Daryl Janmaat and Emanuel Riviere – Pardew has a considerably strengthened attacking presence.
Our defending was weak last season, so it would be foolish to rely on scraping 1-0 wins. I’m not expecting Champions League – but his biggest excuse has been taken away from him, can he survive without it?
You can follow Joseph on Twitter @joepollard7
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