Newcastle United – The TV money is there
At last, a result to be proud of – really proud. The table toppers were dismissed by a Newcastle side that demonstrated passion and got the crowd going. 11 years or so ago, we were finishing above Chelsea in the Premier League.
Now, beating them at home is an achievement and cause for Pardew to celebrate his 4 years in charge.
It goes without saying that some of the victories this season came in the shadow of a mere 5 wins in 25. Any win is worthwhile, particularly given the financial jackpot that is available to Mike Ashley if Premier League status is maintained.
It is a reflection on Ashley that we have only once finished in a European position since his arrival, suffering a relegation on the way.
Some of the wins have been mutedly celebrated. The first came against a Leicester city side hugging the bottom of the table, now without a win in 10. Our solitary breakaway goal could be argued to have stopped the rot.
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QPR were beaten, similarly by a single goal. They currently lay just above the relegation zone, courtesy of wins against the bottom 2. West Brom are one of the yoyo teams of the Premier League but 2-0 away is always a good result.
Spurs and Liverpool would have been considered great results last season. This year, both are struggling with simultaneous campaigns in Europe, Spurs sharing the record for most home defeats so far. Liverpool have not been at their best with 2 wins in 7, suffering severely from a striker shortage. In both of those games, the opposition dominated possession, also dominating in the number of chances created.
A quick summary of the stats against Chelsea tells one story, the make up of the team another. The stats show yet another game where we had around a third of possession. Chelsea’s 26 shots against our 10, 8 on target against our 3 suggest we may have been lucky.
Moving on to team selection, the two previous games had seen Pardew revert to type, neither game won, both had included the often workmanlike Gouffran. Williamson had returned to the defence.
Is it more than coincidence that when Steve Taylor has started, Newcastle United have won every game? Is it a coincidence that Sammy Ameobi has created most assists in the last 9 games, or that chances have come from wide play that Pardew had previously shunned?
Added in to the above, Dummet has certainly provided grit, either at left back or in the centre of defence. Colback has provided balance on the left side of the defensive midfield formation. There is a significant local representation in the Newcastle United side.
Another factor that has changed recently is that players have been played in their natural positions. What this means is that the wingers can play out wide. Sissoko can do what he does best, provide power in the middle.
Cisse, when used, has been able to play in the middle, not on the wing, receiving the ball facing goal rather than being the target, back to goal, where he can attack the ball and show his instinct. 7 goals in 9 games, 4 of them starts, tell their own tale.
There are a portion of us who support the club who have been hoping that Pardew will have learned from his mistakes, the well documented sackings at his previous 3 clubs; sacked by West Ham when in a relegation position, by Charlton when on the way to consecutive relegations. Now is the time for him to learn from his successes.
Sure, on another day Chelsea could have converted more chances. What they came up against was a Geordie core, albeit a Nigerian Geordie, a Welsh Geordie, a cockney born Geordie, and lads from Prudhoe and Killingworth. They would not be beaten. Width, sadly lacking until our recent run, can provide opportunities.
There will be more tests to come. Can this Newcastle side dominate possession against lower ranked teams? Can we take a game to our opponents without having to rely on a counter attack? It seems fair to say that in the days before Ashley and Pardew, we were typically frustrated by teams who came to defend and counter against us. We saw it as negative football.
We also have the spectre of the transfer window looming. With 23 games to go, we are perhaps 13 points or so from probable safety. It might be argued that games like Spurs, Liverpool and Chelsea provided a shop window for some of our imports. The press have already been talking about Tiote, Sissoko, Krul, Aarons, Coloccini and others which I have previously discussed.
Ashley has not been shy on cashing in, particularly with Pardew a willing deputy. We have seen it with Carroll, Ba, Cabaye, Debuchy, Forster and others. The club has already stated a reluctance for Europe. The foundations are in place for a successful side with local passion augmented by technical ability from overseas, including the adopted Geordies like Coloccini and Krul.
The ‘Geordie nation’ is not against outsiders, even Cockneys; as Supermac, Rob Lee, Sir Les, Warren Barton and many others will testify. Certainly, our most attractive and adventurous sides have come about when we have had an owner, (Sir John Hall) and managers with a local affinity, Keegan and Sir Bobby.
Pardew now has the opportunity to bridge the gap. Rather than kowtow to pressure to sell, he can now deliver what he promised in his opening press conference 4 years ago, he can bang on the owner’s door. The TV money is there. Depending on who you listen to, the real reason for Hughton’s sacking might be speculated as to have been his reluctance to sell players who contributed to the cause.
Now is the time for Pardew to show 2 things, firstly that he is prepared to fight to hang on to good players, and secondly that he can learn from both his failures and his unexpected successes. Over to you, Alan, happy anniversary.
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