Pardew revolution will sustain Geordie cheer
Few can have predicted such a successful start to the season at St James Park.
There were one or two surprise results in the Premier League last weekend. Liverpool were held at home to Norwich, Chelsea lost at QPR and I think I am right in saying that nobody in our MSN predictor game had Man City to win 6-1 at Old Trafford!
One game that did go to form however was Newcastle taking all 3 points at home to Wigan.
I was at St. James’ Park to witness the Alan Pardew revolution continue its momentum, albeit in less than convincing fashion with a hard fought 1-0 win. The combination of another solid backline performance and a moment of magic from Yohan Cabaye were eventually enough to see them to victory.
Although I wasn’t blown away by last week's performance I have been very impressed by the start they have made this season. They are unbeaten in the league and have got the best defensive record in the division conceding a miserly 6 goals.
This record has been helped by their ability to field a settled team, a statistic backed by the fact that eight players have started all nine league games and importantly that has included the goalkeeper and back four. Many people will point to a favourable fixture list at the beginning of this campaign and I can’t argue with that too much but when I compared the results from the corresponding games last year they are already a massive 12 points better off this season.
A lot of eyebrows were raised last December when Chris Hughton was dismissed. He had done a wonderful job winning promotion back to the Premier League and his calm and dignified persona helped make him a popular figure on Tyneside. To then be replaced by a man who had just been sacked by Southampton in League One made it an extra bitter pill to swallow. I’ll admit at the time I felt huge disappointment for Chris and thought it was a very harsh decision, but I also argued that having worked with Alan Pardew at Charlton, he would prove to be a great appointment.
Many have suggested that Pardew is merely a puppet and that the owner Mike Ashley is pulling his strings. I know him well and there is no way he would allow that. He is a very strong character with huge self-belief and will certainly want a major say in any football matters. I know that already in his time at the club he has overseen big improvements behind the scenes to the training ground playing surfaces and facilities.
He is also very proactive in trying to engineer a positive environment and generating a good team spirit is key for him. In my time working under him we had a number of team building days such as paintballing and clay pigeon shooting and these always help bring the players closer together.
He has had to work within strict financial constraints and because of this established players on higher wages such as Andy Carroll, Kevin Nolan, Jose Enrique and Joey Barton have all been allowed to move on. The plan has been to cut the wage bill but not the quality of the squad and the purchase of Cabaye for £4.8 million from Lille is indicative of this. With the added arrivals of Gabriel Obertan and Sylvain Marveaux and the return to fitness of Hatem Ben Arfa, there has been an evident change in style and they are playing with more pace in the side.
The big question is how far up the table can they finish? My feeling is that the squad as it stands is too thin and if they suffer a spate of injuries, particularly at the back, then they will falter. I think they are good enough to end up in the top 10 and if they can add depth in the January transfer window and a new striker which the fans and manager have craved since the departure of Carroll, then they can challenge for a Europa League place. I don’t think they are capable of finishing in the top 4 though.
A more realistic ambition than reaching the Champions league places is a challenge for some silverware in the shape of the Cup competitions. The last time they won a domestic trophy was the FA Cup in 1955. With that in mind it would have been a huge disappointment to have suffered their first defeat of the season at Blackburn in the Carling Cup.
The key is to bounce back from that setback quickly but I fear they may lose again on Saturday. Having had to play extra time in midweek and Steven Taylor doubtful with a broken nose, the unbeaten start to the league season is under threat.
With Man City, Man United and Chelsea coming up within the next 5 games it could be a difficult month but whatever happens in the next 4 weeks there is no doubt it has been a great start to the season for Newcastle and Alan Pardew. I am a fan of his and I’m glad to see that 50,000 Geordies are starting to be won over.
I believe Pardew to be an intelligent Manager who has used his limited finances well. If you compare the money he has spent on his purchases they have proved successes and have enabled him to make an encouraging start. Can you think of any other premier league manager who has bought relatively modestly and achieved so well. The likes of Man City, Liverpool and Chelsea have spent and wasted 100 times what Pardew has spent on players. Many of these players bought by these have never played in the first teams or have proved flops.
So give the Toon and their Manager some credit.
I'm a fan of Pardew, and whilst I'm not a 'Newcastle fan', I'm a fan of Newcastle, hopefully you'll understand the distinction I'm trying to make here.
Anyway, my point then is that I'm glad to see Newcastle back and doing so well, and I'm notso convinced that a top 4 place is out of reach.
As it stands right now, the top 3 are sewn up with the 2 manchester clubs and Chelsea. Liverpool are pressing, but they don't have enough, and as such are favourites for fourth, but they don't have it tied down and there are other teams who can make it, Spurs, Arsenal (if they get their act together) and, I believe, Newcastle.
Over the years some great teams have been successfull in the league by simply being solid and reliable, which is what Newcastle currently are. Pardew is a smart manager who can bring in good players at the right prices to bolster his squad. It may not be enough for them this season (although I'd say a top 8 place at minimum is guarenteed-top 6 extremely likely), but given this year to watch potential targets and next summer to make the right signings, then a Newcastle team always in the Europa League places and challenging for Carling Cup is very much a likelhood.
The key though, is not getting too overconfident by this start. Whilst toon have a real chance at getting in top 6 this season, it will be a tough battle for them, and the worst thing that could happen is for the fans and Ashley to turn on Pardew if results start turning sour. Newcastle isn't a finished product yet, it needs a few more signings to bolster the squad, that could take another season or 2 to secure. Let Pardew have that time and he can make Newcastle a force again.
its about building, this team will be one year older next seaon and alot better,
Newcastle have 'played no-one decent yet'. Everyone knows that to do well in the premier league you need to do well against the smaller clubs aswell.
I would just like to say to all the people slagging off Newcastle on here that you're all just jealous, most of you would love to see your club joint 3rd in the league, level on points with Chelsea, unbeaten after 9 games and with the best defensive record in the prem wouldn't you, even if you had only played the 'small teams'.
I'm not expecting us to get anything off of the likes of the Manchester clubs or Chelsea, who can, but funnier things have happened. Who predicted Newcastle would be fourth in the league at the end of October, or that Man United would be thrashed at home 6-1 against Man City....... anyone? No, I didn't think so!!!!!!!
Not in any way anti Newcastle, all for them being in the top flight, (some might say my team need all the easy points they can get). Between 19/11 and 03/12 Toon play both Manchester clubs and Chelsea, frankly if they get two points from those games they will be doing well. What will their position be after those three games ?
I didn't say they would be relegated, I just think they will end up somewhere in the order of 12th to 14th., without changes in the boardroom the squad is not strong enough to sustain more of a challenge, and I can't see too many incoming players in the January transfer window, particularly as Mike A. still wants to offload the club.
I said the same as you in the boozer last night when a mate commented what a good start 'Castle have made.
"They played no one decent yet" I said, and that could all begin to change on Monday when they play Stoke at the Brit, who will be determined to get back to winning ways after the cup defeat to Liverpool...... (Well I hope so....)
The team flatters to deceive, of they're first 9 games the only decent opponents were Spurs when they drew 2-2. Fulham, QPR, Blackburn, Wigan and Sunderland would hardly count as serious threats and could only draw 0-0 against a totally gutted Arsenal side at home in the first match of the season.
Perhaps by Christmas we'll get a better idea after they've played the likes of the two Manchester sides, Chelsea and Liverpool. They'll be doing well to end the season in the top half.
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