Individual Errors Prove Costly For Newcastle
Alan Pardew is a bit of a record-breaker. Over the weekend, he became the first Newcastle United manager to guide the club to five successive Premier League defeats. Only on this occasion, I thought the lads were mightily unlucky not to come away with at least a point.
April 22nd, 2014
Five defeats only tell half the story – but for the purposes of this particular Superblog, let us focus on Everton (0-3), Southampton (0-4), Manchester United (0-4), Stoke City (0-1) and Swansea City (1-2). Fourteen goals conceded, only one scored. Pathetic. No excuses. The first three games weren’t even close. At Stoke we tried to salvage some pride, but failed. On Saturday, the old adage of ‘when it’s not going for you, it’s not going for you’ proved correct.
Swansea needed the points more than us, which is why I was surprised by their ‘park the bus’-type tactics. For large parts of the first and second half, the visitors let the Toon dictate the game – allowing the lads to keep possession and look for openings. Thankfully, Shola Ameobi found some space and (for once) capitalised to give us the lead. Having ended the goal drought you would have thought we’d go on to end the winless run too. Sadly, this time, it was individual errors that proved to be the Toon’s downfall. Sloppy defending and reckless tackling gave Gary Monk’s team all three points.
I have three points to make. Firstly, I believe Alan Pardew has to go. I was always going to judge him on this season, and although we’re in the top ten, the performances haven’t been good enough. He’ll most likely survive and stay next season – but I’ve seen enough to suggest that he’s not the right man to take us forward.
Secondly, and linked to this, you can’t (like many fans have) blame Pardew for Saturday’s defeat to Swansea. I often find that Newcastle fans (and perhaps even football fans in general) tend to overrate the players in their team. When you look at the game on Saturday, Newcastle actually dominated possession for large parts. We lost Papiss Cisse and Luuk de Jong to injuries but the attacking intent was there. It was, as Pardew would say, an honest performance from the players. What does that mean? It means no shortage of commitment, dedication or heart throughout the 90 minutes. The players went out there to give it their best shot and to win the game. So, why did we lose? Here I would argue that the loss was not due to the lack of effort – but rather the lack of quality of our players. Our players are simply not good enough – or to put it another way – clinical enough to take advantage in the final third. If you can keep the ball for large parts of a game, you must threaten the goal. We hardly tested Michel Vorm, which highlights the lack of creativity in the squad. Now, is that Pardew’s fault? Not for me. The players must take responsibility. To add, the likes of Cheick Tiote must be more responsible, must keep his head in injury time and not dive in to concede a penalty. To blame a manager sitting in the stands for the reckless actions of a player seems a little strange to me.
Third and finally, lack of quality in the squad is due to lack of investment from the owner. Yohan Cabaye was sold and not replaced. Loic Remy gets injured; we don’t have a decent back-up. The likes of Mathieu Debuchy and Moussa Sissoko are out – and their replacements fail to deliver. Overall there is a lack of competition in the squad, and when you have that, the players don’t fear losing their place. This, once again, isn’t Pardew’s fault. He wasn’t in charge of transfers in the summer but has to work with the players he has. Until the owner decides to invest and push the club forward, top ten is the best we’ll do.
It’s a tough time for everyone involved at Newcastle and the fans have been as patient as they can be. After the final three games, there’s a real chance Newcastle could slip out of the top ten – and that may lead the owner not only to ask some serious question of his appointment’s ability, but also of the squad’s capability.
Umar Farooq, Editor – NUFCfans.co.uk