Alan Pardew ‘Judge me after ten games…’
Alan Pardew invited us to judge him and his team after 10 games.
The manager had stated:
“We’ve got a strong squad, perhaps the biggest and best I’ve ever had in terms of options, so we’re in a great position.
”I think we’re going to play a brand of football that Newcastle United fans expect.”
Supporter websites had it pretty much nailed; a striker of note, another central defender, a replacement for Cabaye – albeit 8 months late.
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We have been reminded of the Llambias statement, “no capital outlay”. Our latest MD, Lee Charnley, told us that we could expect perhaps a couple of new signings per year. Instead, there has not been evolution, there has been revolution.
The Cabaye money has been spent, so has the Debuchy cash. A total of 9 signings (including a loan striker), 2 of those going back on loan at Forest, were funded by the French internationals and topped up with a little more; the departure of Amalfitano, the sell-on clause for Fraser Forster, sale of James Tavernier, reductions in the wage bill also came from Mbiwa and Ben Arfa going on loan.
Pre-season provided some hints as to the season ahead. Notably Aarons impressing but as we came closer to the start of the season, Pardew’s first choice team was taking shape. He’d promised adventure but Pardew lapsed into his old self, favouring two defensive midfielders.
The number 1 is obvious, the excellent Tim Krul with Woodman and Darlow to come through. The back 4 seemed to settle on Janmaat, Coloccini, Williamson and one of Haidara or Dummett, the latter finding the edge. Interestingly, when Steve Taylor has started in the league, we have won.
Holding, the preference seems to have been for Tiote and Colback when the former has been fit, Anita the natural deputy, Abeid now providing competition.
Given a run ahead of them was a relatively settled trio of Sissoko, Cabella and Gouffran, with Riviere the lone striker replacing Remy, the loan striker.
We started a new season with the second new fitness coach in twelve months. Has it made a difference? Casualties have fallen on the way; de Jong is out for months, Steven Taylor was a notable absentee, Obertan is the latest to suffer with Aarons having had a spell out too. Tiote has missed more than he has played.
One of the lessons that Pardew seems to have failed to learn is taking risks with fitness. So far he has openly stated that certain players were not ready; de Jong, Cisse and Aarons, also Ryan Taylor. It remains to be seen if the manager will repeat those gambles during the season.
It has to be a huge plus that Ryan Taylor is also back from injury, providing extra leadership and enthusiasm as well as some nice touches. Surprisingly, he is the oldest midfielder to play for us since the departure of Nolan. It may be more than coincidence that our best result came at the Etihad.
As things have panned out, injuries and form have led to some revelations. Cisse, has come back, been played in a central role and surprise surprise, has started to score again, having apparently been touted around the transfer market last January. Similarly, with a vacant berth in the centre of midfield, Sissoko has reverted to his more natural role rather than out wide and has started to excel.
Gouffran seemed to reach a turning point last December, he and Cabella have been rested of late, allowing another player, allegedly for sale in the summer, to stake a claim. Obertan proving one of the heroes with an assist at Swansea and his first goal since December 2013, netting for the points against Leicester.
Similarly, Sammy Ameobi has taken his chance, equalling the 6 second record for a scoring sub in setting up a comeback at Spurs, after having provided the cross for a point against Swansea. The third young winger is of course Aarons, sparking a comeback against Palace.
The remaining scoring hero is Perez, two goals in two appearances. It is quite a remarkable statistic that the scorers of our last 7 league goals have a mere 8 starts between them this season. Throw into the mix the promising appearance of Abeid against Liverpool, and the younger players (plus Cisse) have really made a difference over the last few games.
Looking back at the results, the City defeat on the opening day of the season was probably expected. The 0-0 at Villa reflects that our hosts have so far failed to score in 6 of their 10 games, as well as at home to Orient in the League Cup. Koeman gave Pardew a 4-0 lesson on how to integrate new players and a new system. In the interim, Palace highlighted what Pardew calls 2nd season syndrome, giving us our first goals of the season in a 3-3 draw.
Autumn has brought relative success. Hull confirmed the lesson that when providing width instead of Pardew’s ‘funnel’ formation, we can come from behind. Stoke was too little too late but the Swansea match once again showed the value of wide wingers as was the case with the Leicester, Spurs and Liverpool wins.
The manner of those latter two victories tells a slightly different story to the direction of the points, as does the cup win at City. Toon possession averaged a little less than a third with an average over the season so far of fewer than 4 shots on target per game. The statistics don’t highlight that the wins against Spurs and Liverpool have come during the group stages of UEFA competitions. Nevertheless, we have 7 points from 5 games against teams in the top half compared with 6 from 5 against the teams below.
The highlights have been from the accidental heroes in the emergent A team; Aarons, Ayoze, Ameobi, Abeid and |Armstrong. The lowlights are with the other A team, Ashley who sits on the TV millions and Alan who fails every time to live up to the promise of attractive football.
What we can judge is that the NUFC cash cow continues to be milked, Premier League status being safe in young hands.
As for Pardew’s quote;
”I think we’re going to play a brand of football that Newcastle United fans expect,” he was right.
Our expectations have been lowered.
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