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Did Pardew ever give Ben Arfa a fair chance? Stats and Analysis

Monday 2nd September 2014 brought to an end one of the longest debates in toon history: Hatem Ben Arfa's role at Newcastle. This much documented debate was brought to a close by the departure of Hatem Ben Arfa to Hull City.

A row between Pardew and Ben Arfa had been brewing for some time, and it’s important to asses whether the 27 year old given a fair crack of the whip under Alan Pardew in his three previous seasons?

Of course, when Pardew took charge of the club in December 2010 the Frenchmen was already out for the season having suffered a broken Tibia and Fibula against Manchester City on 3rd October.

The former Lyon man had suffered a broken and dislocated ankle following a rash tackle by Roger Espinoza of Sporting Kansas City on club’s preseason tour of USA and was out until mid-September.

Notably still finding his feet and fitness it was a stop start season for Ben Arfa who only made 17 appearances in all competitions till March (by manager’s choice), out of which 8 were as a substitute and also included a wonder goal against Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup, Pardew’s only success in the 3rd round in four attempts.

It all fell in place when a desperate Newcastle manager brought the former Marseille man on while trailing 1-0 against local rivals Sunderland following a Nicklas Bendtner penalty. Although he failed to score or provide an assist, his presence was incomparable and spurred the team in pulling a goal back.

It was all good times for the player after that as he started all 11 games in Premier League scoring and assisting 6 goals. The formation of 4-3-3 also suited him down to the ground too, he exceled and so did the team. So good was the player that he earned a call to the French national team for the European Championships. The Magpies went on to finish fifth and qualified for the UEFA Europa League for the first time since the 2006-07 season.

Inexplicably Pardew shunted the 4-3-3 formation at the start of 2012-13 season and reverted to a 4-4-2 and put Ben Arfa out on the right wing. This was after having earlier saying that the player will be deployed in a number 10 role and not as a winger.

Nevertheless, Ben Arfa started the season on fire and scored twice in his first three games. Unfortunately, he eventually succumbed to another injury, this time a blighted hamstring,  against Maritimo.  Pardew brought him back prematurely against Fulham and even though he scored, he aggravated his hamstring and was out for 3 months.

Not having learnt from his mistakes Alan brought the midfielder back in freezing conditions in Makhachkala and played him on a plastic pitch. The player was once again out for five weeks after initially been ruled out for season. He returned against Benfica in a do or die game, and characteristically provided a spark, but team eventually fell short after a valiant effort.

He was resigned to the bench for the next three games but returned to the starting line up as relegation became a real possibility.

Ben Arfa only managed 19 games in the league that season and,  out of those,  three were as subs including the 6-0 defeat by Liverpool at St. James’ Park. The Worst at home since a 7-1 defeat to Blackburn Rovers in 1925.

In the same season Alan Pardew came under criticism for some of his tactics from his own players and the deployment of the personal at his disposal.

The forward was once again team’s best player amidst turmoil and scored the first two league goals of the season but was made scape goat for a disastrous first half against Everton in September. It was an uphill battle after that as he only started six Premier League games whole season and was largely restricted to cameos of 15-25 minutes. Nonetheless he was blamed for almost every loss as the Magpies went on to register their 41st loss out of last 80 games.

These are the stats for Hatem Ben Arfa under Alan Pardew.

Total Games played in the league


On as Sub




44 (Taken off 3 times at HT)

28 (Brought on 4 times at HT)



P.s.  – Only League Numbers taken as cups are not a priority for the club

Given the nature of Ben Arfa’s playing style, he is the sort of player that Alan Pardew should have been building a team around. Instead, however, he was continuously sidelined and expected to perform miracles in a side that was poorly coached and often bereft of ideas.

It seems that under Alan Pardew there are two groups of players: one who are always exonerated (even when they don’t deserve to be) and the ones who are constantly subjected to the hairder treatment and are bandied off as scapegoats by the ever-innocent Pardew. Players like Yoan Gouffran and Jonas Gutierrez are the epitomes of the former.

It also appears that given the player’s past he was always an easy target and was held responsible for some glaring coaching and management nouse.

In my opinion he was never given a fair run and was hung out to dry on far too many occasions. Not for the first time has that happened under Alan Pardew’s supervision Cough – Carlos Tevez- Cough-Javier Mascherano –Cough.

As a Ben Arfa fan I may be a bit biased, let us know what you think.

About Himanshu Dhingra (115 Articles)
I am a Newcastle United Fan and an Economist by Degree, Follow me on Twitter @HD_07. I love Indian Politics, Cricket, Formula 1, lawn Tennis

1 Comment on Did Pardew ever give Ben Arfa a fair chance? Stats and Analysis

  1. I totally agree with your main view stressing out the fact that Ben Arfa has never been given a fair chance to explore his many talents! It is obvious for any football visionary to see that the team should be built around such a unique talent! Hatem has suffered the same or i would say even worse in France especially with the very short sighted Didier Dechamps when he was playing for Marseille! A smart Coach should know that for such talented players, like any great artists, having their own visions of the Game they should be left FREE to perform and duly encouraged. Indeed they have a vision of the game from a place that a COACH can’t have access to and such a hard Truth is certainly very hard to cope with for a coach as Ego is always there to express its need to show its supremacy! Thus it is very unfortunate to see a waste of Talent though history has shown that the best way to COACH such a player is to let go of one’s Ego and build a team around the Talent regardless of the Character of the player, as the task is FIRST about the Football-GAME and not about Character, Eric Cantona’s case has been a Great counter-example of such wrong managing! And neither the French League nor the English league today has learnt a thing about such a FACT! Yet, as in history, all keeps repeating until one learns and i hope through the smart S.BRUCE the story of Ben Arfa will be a rehearsal of that of Eric Cantona! The BOTTOM LINE IS: The management team should understand to be at SERVICE to the fans and should do their best to promote TALENT before Character, both if it is possible only! The FIFA is taking care of watching the character when it is necessary! The COACH has to COACH Football period! It is all about the GAME and nothing else!

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