In the middle of another largely unwelcome ten day break (which could – in a vastly alternative universe where our once-great side showed the FA Cup the respect it deserves – be an exciting, eagerly anticipated fifth round battle), many of us ever growing hope free Newcastle United supporters are left rather dissatisfied, scratching our heads, perplexed by a deeply underwhelming and frankly concerning mid-week display against our former front-man’s new band of merry men.

Although a point at Selhurst Park is not a total disaster, the manner in which we held on to it, like a sly malnourished squirrel to the last of the autumn acorns, rings major alarm bells.

Two overtly defensive substitutes in the form of left back Dummet and holding midfielder Abeid sent out a clear signal that we did not want to win this game. Pards must have cracked a grin when arguably our most promising and creative weapon, Remy Cabella – a rare beacon of hope in recent weeks – reluctantly made way for the now second choice left back.

(To feature like Rhys, send in your articles for our website to [email protected])

And honestly I don’t condemn his (Cabella’s) abundant annoyance with this borderline cowardly swap, because that is not what our club is about. A three goal trouncing of Hull – although miles from the most convincing performance – seemed, just for a second, like the confidence boost we needed to kick on with a decent end to the campaign. If only confidence could be bottled in such a manner.

Carver clearly wants this job, and as a man-manager, and general character to have around the club, he is far from inept. What is becoming apparent, however, is that he just simply does not have the credentials to be our permanent manager – sorry – ‘head coach’.

Despite my supporting the decision to give the guy a chance for at least a few games back in January, it appears he’s shown decent personal attributes, but not quite the degree of tactical creativity or indeed experimentation needed to get the most out of this very promising squad of players. Perhaps it was just a one off, and the mundane mid-week mishap is an anomaly in our battle for a top ten finish. Let’s just hope so.

It’s a real blow that Siem De Jong has been ruled out for at least another eight weeks. His arrival back into first team proceedings would have undoubtedly been an enormous boost. A natural leader, with a great eye for a killer pass and the back of the net, our eleven are crying out for such a player. But once more, the seemingly inestimable wait has been further extended. Further disappointing is Moussa Sissoko’s mini-slump in form; he’s seemed a shadow of his former tank-like powerhouse self in the past few encounters. Let’s again hope this is a minor blip.

On a much brighter note, Rolando Aarons is returning to full training, and this, for me, symbolises the answer for the remaining game. It was back in October when the five game winning streak saw by far our most exciting football of the year.

Why? Of course many factors contributed, including a sturdy defence, yet the key stand-out aspect of our game: width. The long-awaited discovery of form by Gabriel Obertan, combined with the pace and exuberance of Aarons to give us a more traditional system of pace, width and provision for strikers.

Aarons only featured against City and Liverpool in that period before being cruelly ruled out by yet another injury setback, yet what he represented set the tone for our positive approach to the following matches.

Take Colback’s 74 minute strike against Stoke: in a far from enthralling contest, the introduction of Obertan (not to demoralise Cabella’s impressive 69 minutes) provided us with a direct, speedy winger whose simple purpose was to bomb down that right flank and get the ball into the box.

As if by magic, five minutes after coming onto the pitch, his drag back to Sissoko led to what appeared at the time to be the winner. Why Gabby was then ignored for Gouffran in Wednesday’s line-up against Palace is beyond me.

newcastle unitedIt seems the Godfathers of irony had a field day when the introduction of wide-man Bolase resulted in a marvellously crafted cross, placing the ball on a plate for the grateful Fraizer Campbell to bury a deserved equaliser.

Whilst I’m not recommending that Carver takes inspiration from Pardew, what might be of note for the Newcastle Head Coach is implementation of a system of pace and width, for which our side undoubtedly possesses the ingredients in the form of Rolando, Gabby, Ayoze, Sammy, Cabella, Haidara and even Manu Riviere – who will, I am convinced, eventually find his feet on Tyneside.

What’s more is that in Cisse and Perez, we have two strikers with an eye for goal. All they require is adequate provision.

Is this the long awaited answer to our current run of creative ineptitude? Perhaps; perhaps not. What is certain is that if something doesn’t change, and soon, the head coach’s role may not be the only thing John Carver sacrifices. He may be waving a more permanent farewell to St James’ if an ambitious and ruthless foreign head coach decides to bring his own back room squad.


  • tattoo15

    I’m not defending Pardew or Carver, for me neither of them are good enough to be manager of Newcastle, But, it was very telling yesterday with the team that Pardew picked for the Palace cup match. It looked like palace’s strongest team barring injuries! Orders from above at Newcastle not to pick strong teams in the cup?! I know this has been said before but it wont make a blind bit of difference who we get as manager when we have Cashley in charge. This man is a disgrace, not just to Newcastle but to football in general!

  • supermacsnewname

    let’s just get this dreadful season over – I’m sick to the back teeth of it and the endless wingeing

  • armoadam

    Rhys, I totally agree with your views! The main problem is the total lack of quality service into the box as you mentioned. Our crosses and corners suck! Sissoko looks like he is already on the beach in France and our center backs make too many mistakes! Also, it is sad that we can’t protect a lead two weeks in a row.

  • PB777

    We are much better when we have pace in the side with the likes of Aarons. Obertan was also having a major influence before his injury and was playing easily his best football for us. We can really stretch a game with those two. For me, gouffran offers little. In my opinion, while cabella is improving, he often goes nowhere with too many touches. I don’t confuse aimless stepovers for creativity. He has talent but needs to be much more direct and robust to really be effective in a very physical league.

  • wor monga

    At least you’re putting a football angle on the Mag site…for
    us to read, which makes a change from the usual anti club political drivel, but
    I must take exception to the comparison you make to the lads holding onto our
    lead at Palace…
    “like a sly malnourished squirrel to the last of the autumn acorns”….
    only because for that poor squirrel losing what it had in hand would obviously
    mean a slow and agonising death over a long cruel winter …whereas for us it
    just meant we’d still be in with a shout to move a point closer to safety…and
    (who knows) perhaps even a top ten finish!!!

  • amacdee

    wor monga Are you Wendy in disguise ?

  • amacdee

    supermacsnewname WHAT MAKES YOU THINK A NEW SEASON WILL BE ANY BETTER ? Remember if you will those famous words spoken by a true genius probably with NUFC in mind.

  • amacdee

    tattoo15 The problem is tattoo that we dont just field shlte teams in the Cup !

  • mentalman

    The only player we’ve got who can consistently cross in to the box is Janmaat the rest of them rarely beat the first man when they aren’t trying to run the ball in to the box.

  • DownUnderMag

    I agree 1957 – Colo leads by example in a team that is playing well, he isn’t the sort that seems overly vocal, perhaps one of the issues when he is playing alongside someone who is new to the team and why he seems to thrive next to the gobby Saylor.  

    While Cabella is starting to look better, for me there is still far too much of a gap between midfield and the lone striker.   I know it is all the rage to play a lone striker these days as the Premiership turns away from what made it so popular given the money involved and looks to “not lose” games and hold as tightly as possible on to the money that clubs get now, but surely a blind man on a bike can see that it isn’t doing us any favours with the type of players we have.   If you have a Drogba then it is a much easier decision than a Cisse or Perez up front…who clearly aren’t able to play that target man, ball retention role.  

    As i’ve said before, defensive tactics just hand the impetus to the opposition attacking players by eliminating any threat of us scoring so they can feel at ease pushing on more….by going defensive you actually make the job harder for your defence.

  • NatTurner

    I don’t think Manu has what it takes.

  • Brownale69

    Oh for a bit of Bradford this morning!

  • toontom68

    Does anyone else get the impression that Pardew has had the shackles removed now he has left the madhouse?
    Picking his first XI for cup ties…..picking more than one striker (in the same game!!)…picking attacking midfielders and really trying to go out and win games instead of the sterile,safety first football we grew so tired of.
    Now Carver is doing exactly what AP used to do!
    Is there an even more vile bit of interference from above than we thought?
    Have they been told to try to bore us into submission?
    Zombie football all the way!!!

  • Toonbadger

    ‘Simple solution to Newcastle United creativity gap?’

  • Toonbadger

    1957  “I don’t know if DeJong is the answer, we haven’t seen enough to judge”.
    Have we seen anything from him at all? He`s a waste of space in my book

  • armoadam

    Tom, does seem real similar to when Pardew was here. Especially those substitutes at Palace! As a NUFC fan from the US, I can’t understand why teams that are not  playing Champions or Europa don’t ALWAYS try to field there best XI and win domestic cups. Can anyone there in England explain that to me, or at least give me your opinion why?