Alan Pardew guided Newcastle to a stunning 5th placed finish in the Premiership last season, even ended above the European Champions Chelsea.
This earned him plaudits across the country, yet he is rapidly seeing his stock fall as the Magpies flounder near the bottom of the table this time around. Now, the sensible amongst the Newcastle fans are clear in their thoughts, Pardew remains the best man for the job. There is no doubt about that, but are there some elements of Pardew’s work that need more explaining?
Newcastle crashed out of the FA Cup to Championship side Brighton in the early days of January, with Pardew lamenting his lack of options.
“We need to get our best players back and quickly. Our team today is a shadow of the team we can put out. As Newcastle manager coming to Brighton in the 3rd round of the FA Cup I’m aggrieved that I couldn’t put out a stronger team than that.”
Is this strictly true? Two of the players who were out injured for that weekend’s clash were captain Fabricio Coloccini and striker Papiss Cisse. Both played 90 minutes against Everton in mid-week leading up to the game, with no hint of an injury to either, and both were back the following Saturday playing 90 minutes against Norwich.
Again, performing with no hint of any injuries. Is it genuinely true that neither player could play any part in the Cup defeat? That they weren’t even fit for the bench against Brighton? It simply does not seem feasible that a professional footballer like Cisse can continually pick up mid-week ‘knocks’, yet always be available when the weekend comes around.
The same scenario occurred earlier this season when Cisse pulled out of international duty and attempted to report fit for Newcastle’s game mere days later, only to be denied by a FIFA regulation.
To the naked eye, it does seem as though Pardew is playing with the Newcastle fans’ intelligence; it appears clear he was always intent on playing a weakened side in the FA Cup in order to rest his starts. These merits aren’t entirely bad, but Newcastle’s cup exit was embarrassing and he was very quick to ready the excuses.
Another interesting scenario came to light this week, with the club missing out on the Loic Remy transfer as the Frenchman chose to go to Queens Park Rangers. Pardew this time was quoted as saying Newcastle had made a “fantastic offer to the player, a fantastic Premiership offer to that player.”
Is he being serious? Now, he may be under orders from above to say things along these lines, but the club must know that in order to compete and sign top players, they must offer top wages. The reported £40’000 a week to Remy, a France international, is not a “fantastic offer”, and subsequently Newcastle lost out.
In a similar manner, the £40’000 Demba Ba was paid (although much of it in clauses dependent on how many games he played) was not befitting of a player of his standard. Newcastle must realize, and fast, that in order to sign top players who are wanted by other clubs, they must pay in accordance to it.
They may have achieved success by bringing in a string of foreign players who weren’t widely known about, but you can’t do it every season. Who is Pardew kidding when he says the club made such a great offer that the player then rejected it in order to sign for the league’s bottom club? The fans know how the market works, and Pardew is kidding nobody.
Now, obviously this is merely playing devil’s advocate. Maybe Newcastle did put out the strongest side they could for the Cup defeat, and maybe Remy really did turn down a great offer from the Magpies board. Either way, it’s certainly worth thinking about and will provide great debate amongst the passionate fans who know their side is under achieving, and want something done about it fast.
Think Pardew needs to step it up? Is he really the right man to turn Newcastle’s season around? Let us know your thoughts and views through the comments section, or via Twitter.
By Harry Aitkenhead