By Toon Bano
So I somewhat predictably begin to write another article about how poor we have played in a Premier League game for about the 10th time this season; 10 out of 12, not bad – no one can say we aren’t consistent. But what is even more predictable and somewhat tiresome now is the total failure from our manager, yet again. When will it end? Seeing as Pardew has an eight year contract in his back pocket and we don’t want to have to look for a new manager again, we can’t sack him. So it will only end when Pardew gets his head out of his arse and realise that what he is doing is not working in any way shape or form and he needs to change.
He needs to change the system. He needs to change the personnel in specific positions. He needs to change the set piece routines. He needs to change the philosophy of the team. He needs to change the mentality of the players. He needs to change his own complacent, arrogant, stubborn, excuse-filled, clueless, blind, totally incompetent performance as the manager of this football club because he is taking us down to his level; an average manager, with an average career, who is used to working with average players, at average clubs.
People may choose to ignore it or deny it but we are in relegation form. I am not even talking about specific result, although they are dreadful (one win in seven), I am talking about performances. The three wins we have achieved this season have not been deserved. We got outplayed v Spurs first game of the season and only got the points because Villas-Boas was brand new to the job and didn’t have his best team set yet. We were poor against Norwich and had to rely on last ditch defending and poor finishing from the opposition. We deserved to lose against West Brom but got an outrageous piece of luck via Papiss Cisse’s backside. Nobody can deny this. The mentality of; ‘well that shows you’re a good team when you can play poorly and still win’ has expired. That excuse is long gone. What kind of a team can’t put together a decent performance for 90 minutes after 12 games? It’s usually a poor one.
Can anybody honestly tell me we are playing any better than the relegation season of 2009? That season we managed to get the odd creditable away result but then collapsed on our own pitch. Ringing any bells? It’s ringing in my ears big time. Now don’t think for a second I am suggesting we are going down because we aren’t. No chance. But the fact we are five points off the relegation zone in mid-November after two back-to-back home defeats against average opposition is a disgraceful position to be in, considering the quality of our playing staff. West Ham and Swansea had just the one away win to their names before they played us, which were both at the worst team in the league in QPR. Yet we made them look like top 6 contenders. It’s totally unacceptable. Oh and in case you wondering the last time we lost back to back home games? It was in that relegation season back in 2009. That’s nice to hear I’m sure.
Usually when Newcastle United are in this kind of form we can look at the players and say he isn’t doing this, he’s not good enough for that and why is he in the team? Etc etc. But I refuse to do that with this team. I don’t care that Tim Krul made an awful mistake to let Swansea in and score the opening goal. Krul has been our best player this season so I refuse to criticise him. Where would we be without his one-on-one saves? Relegation zone that’s where. We have much more blatant and deeper problems. For a start, the players aren’t even being played in the best system that suits their own game and the way we should be playing as a football club. How can this be? They are fighting a battle against their own manager let alone the opposition. If I was an opposing manager and I saw Ben Arfa deep in his own half and Mike Williamson or Steven Taylor just lump the ball forward aimlessly I would be delighted. If I saw that I had three midfielders outnumbering their two I would be confident of outplaying them, keeping the ball for long periods and creating decent chances.
What I can’t stomach from Pardew is the lack of basic common sense I would expect off the average football fan on the street. I’ll give you a simple example. Davide Santon has no left foot to speak of. This isn’t a criticism of him, it’s just a fact. So whenever he makes one of his highly impressive runs from deep into the opposition’s final third, nothing is created at the end of it. He doesn’t cross it, nor cut inside and shoot. His 40 yard run becomes pointless. He may as well give the ball to someone else who does have the capabilities to deliver into the box. So why doesn’t he play at right back instead? If he were on the right hand side of the pitch, once he gets beyond the oppositions full back, he can then at least have the opportunity to get the ball into the box. Whip the ball in, find the striker, he heads it in the net – job done. Then on the opposite side we can have Shane Ferguson. He has already proven what a delivery he has when he plays left back. So play him there. With a simple change of Santon to RB and Fergie to LB you have single-handedly solved a problem of the lack of service from the full back areas. Done; easy, simple, basic, common sense – am I wrong?
What sent me into hysterics yesterday was when Pardew did finally switch Santon to RB and dragged N’Dubz off the pitch after another non-performance, he had already took Ferguson off at half time. So he put Anita at left back which solves nothing and just creates the exact same problem! After the game, one of the excuse’s Pardew used was: “Our lack of experience cost us. They had more experience”. Ahh, I see Pardew. So it was the lack of experience that cost us the game was it? So is that why you brought on 19 year old Bigirimana when we were 1-0 down? Nobody forced you to play Ferguson ahead of Marveaux or Sammy ahead of his older brother. You’re full of it Alan. You’re up to the eyeballs in tripe and I am sick of it.
You got away with your baffling substitutions and head-scratching, confusing nonsense in interviews and press conferences last season because we were winning games. The players let you off the hook with individual class. Not because the team were actually playing well. Even though we finished 5th last season, amazingly you could only count on both hands without losing any fingers the amount of actual impressive performances we had. It was Ben Arfa’s genius, Demba Ba’s clinical finishing or Papiss Cisse’s wonder goals that prevented your waffle being more scrutinised. But I for one have listened very carefully to your tripe since you first walked through the door unexpectedly two years ago, because basically, it scares the living daylights out of me. It was in this fixture last season after we drew 0-0 with Swansea and everybody was asking him why he didn’t bring Ben Arfa off the bench. He said, “I just don’t think it was the right game for him. We needed someone to open the door and create space.” What? So Hatem Ben Arfa isn’t that exact player we needed then? I’ve never known anybody talk so much crap in all my life. And we had Joe Kinnear as manager!
It’s very difficult after a couple of bad results to not make it sound like a knee jerk reaction witch hunt against the manager. I am not one of those moron’s who just shouts ‘sack the board’ whenever things aren’t rosy. But this isn’t after two bad defeats. This has been coming for a long time ever since he ditched our winning formula for no good reason at the end of last season. If it weren’t for Ben Arfa and Cisse scoring the two goals of the season, we would have finished the season with just one win in six. This situation with our manager refusing to pick the best system, being totally oblivious to the fact some players aren’t being used in their strongest positions, the utterly baffling substitutions and then explaining it all afterwards with the absolute senseless tripe that comes out of his mouth, is one of THE most frustrating periods I have known as a Newcastle Utd fan.
If this were a case that we had a poor team and Pardew hasn’t been given the tools to do the job, than I wouldn’t be as frustrated. But he has the tools. Contrary to what some people think, our squad is stronger than last season. We have added three midfielders in Anita (who can also play full back), Bigi and Amalfitano. Marveaux is back from his injury. Sammy Ameobi and Shane Ferguson have broken into the first team. Perch, Obertan and Santon are better players than they were this time last year. Plus he has Cisse available for a full season this time around. Pardew has no excuses. The fact Leon Best and Danny Guthrie leaving, along with Ryan Taylor’s injury, doesn’t retract the fact that he has a stronger squad at his disposal. Yet look what he is doing with it. If you completely base your team on not conceding goals and relying on individuals to win you the game, than what happens when the wonder goals dry up? What happens when the opposition start sneaking the odd goal against you? Well what we are seeing happens – diabolical football. Pardew rode a fine line between success and failure last season and it is being exposed big time this time around.
Just look at some of the records Pardew holds at the moment. a) We have yet to win a Premier League game after falling behind. Now he came here almost two years ago. So basically for all that time, if we go 1-0 down, then that’s it. We know we won’t win – always a nice feeling to have in the locker. b) We are yet to score from a set piece this season. Our set pieces are an absolute abomination. They are a total write off. Pardew knew this at the end of last season and said in a radio interview ‘it is something he will work on.’ Well is this the result of this ‘work’? What exactly has he done? Sweet F.A. for what I can see. Isolate Willo and have him head the ball back across goal. That’s unless he fouls his marker first or the ball doesn’t even reach him. Total shambles. c) We have scored from one corner in our last 234 attempts. That’s 1 in 234! It’s still over a year since we last scored from one; October 2011 at Wolves. In all my years as a fan I have never heard anything like this in all my life. Even a bunch of blind monkeys crammed in the penalty area would be able to bundle the ball into the net a few times in a season, if you kept kicking the ball in there.
We can’t sack our failing manager of the year, because we can’t afford it. Nor would the club making headlines for sacking another manager look good for our PR either. So we are stuck with him. But what I will say is this. If Alan Pardew refuses to change the system most of us want us to play, if he refuses to play players in their strongest positions, if he refuses to take any responsibility and insists on feeding us tripe to chew on after every bad performance…then I refuse to back him. I back the football club 100%. I back the players 100%. I will only back Alan Pardew 100% when he makes the necessary, blatantly obvious changes that need to be made. If Pardew lined the team up and sent them out into battle in the same way he did through March and April of this year, via the 4-3-3 system and looking to outplay the opposition, then I will instantly get on board with Pardew once again. We all will.
However, if he continues to refuse, then I for one will continue to refuse in backing him. How can any of us back him? He’s the one responsible for our league campaign being in the complete mess that it is with his illogical, unexplainable and incomprehensible ways. Top 6? We won’t finish in the Top 10 the way we are going.
Do you agree with Bano? Is Pardew getting it so badly wrong? Do you back the manager? Let us know your thoughts?
Author: Bano is a 28-year old Newcastle United fan currently living in the Republic of Ireland. His favourite Toon player right now is Hatem Ben Arfa and he can’t get enough of some of his magical moments. For more, follow Bano on Twitter or check out his website – ToonBano.com.