In the lead up to the new season, we have thrown out some random thoughts/questions to some of our regular contributors and asked for their feedback.
Jonnie S steps up to the plate today and gives us his feelings ahead of the new campaign…
Alan Pardew – Discuss
Whenever asked, I have always replied ‘Pardew is ok’. Nothing more nothing less.
I think he is an average manager – there are a lot worse out there and a lot better as well. I tend to split my opinion into 3 areas and when they are put together I tend to come out with the same conclusion, we could do better but probably end up with worse
• Speaking/PR: Many supporters get affected by his press conferences but to me they are a complete irrelevance to his ability to manage the team. What he says is complete twallop. Every press conference he has one of two approaches: patronise us supporters or pacify/spin the story for the National media.
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He speaks very carefully with his messages but actually says absolutely nothing. He is playing the game of keeping in favour with Ashley and the London press and attempting to be ‘nice’ to us. What then happens is lies, spin and sometimes total nonsense. However, it is irrelevant to how he runs the team
• Tactically: he (and his backroom staff) are weak tactically, unimaginative and lacking (unlike Rodgers or Martinez) a proper philosophy to fall back on. He therefore reverts to short-term decision making (Obertan is doing well at pre-season, get him in the team) and a more defensive/risk adverse approach. I do not believe that he wants to play hoofball but he seems incapable of putting together a formation which does not revert to it as a game progresses.
For example, with the players he has I would seriously consider 3/5 at the back. Janmaat/Haidara/Santon are all better attacking full-backs than defensive full-backs, the 3 defenders can then drop a little and not become exposed to pace and then Coloccini, for all his faults at the back, is a good ball player and he can have licence to step forward into the midfield (a sweeper role). It may not work…but it might. It is one of many frustrations with Pardew’s tactics – he is a very limited coach.
• Player management: I think this may well be his strength. He appears to have a good relationship with the players (HBA excepted) and they tend to speak well of him. If Cabaye and Sissoko did recommend the club and coach to Cabella then all good (I can’t believe he would have come with say Kinnear in charge). Joey, Nolan and Ba have all said good things about him since they left. Clearly though his inability to manage the most talented player (HBA) we have had on our books since Tino Asprila, is a massive black mark on his man management skills.
Therefore I end up concluding he is ok; any change Ashley puts in will almost inevitably be worse. Pardew basically leaves me cold, he is not one of us but he does try at times to understand us – he fails. To expect someone to speak out against the regime however, is just not going to happen, ask Keegan or Shearer.
Better Team/Better Squad?
Having said that about Pardew, I think he now has a squad of players that should be comfortably Top 8. It may take a few games to gel but the ‘squad’ is stronger than last year. We got to 5th last season on one of those freak scoring runs from Remy (similar to Cisse) and some controlled performances from the outstanding Cabaye.
It is doubtful if we have better individual players than these 2 on the books now (we just don’t know how good de Jong, Cabella etc are) but it would be churlish to say that we have not invested well. Just because we have not paid a fortune does not mean the players are not good. I would rather be in our position than pretty much any team outside the so called Top 5. Caveat: new tall, strong Centre Back please.
List the Premier League teams in order of who you would like to beat
1. Manchester United. I have a personal problem here – I know too many of these patronising, single minded, arrogant fans.
6. QPR (Harry factor)
7. West Ham (purely the Sam factor – nothing against the club)
10. Man City
The rest I have no real opinion on at all, except I do have an affection for Burnley, as I did for Norwich last year!
Best that can happen to NUFC this season?
Well the best that can happen is simply ‘we can win a cup’.
In the league there are so many variables, we are unlikely to get in the Top 4 and unlikely (not impossible) to get relegated. If I was a betting man I would say between 7th and 10th but then if we sell/buy players before the season starts, it may change.