Although some of us might say that the teams problems in possession might have something to do with Pardew’s direct style with lots of very long passes to go astray, Pardew has chosen to blame the quality of the players in his current squad. Newcastle currently make the third highest amount of passes over both 25 and 35 yards in the Premiership, behind his Reading protege Brian McDermott, and of course, Stoke City.
Speaking on the recent eight year contracts handed to himself and his assistants recently, and how he feels Mike has found his dream manager at last after being let down by predecessors such as Chris Hughton and Kevin Keegan, Pardew reflected:
“I don’t know how long that’s going to last, or how many times that’s happened to a Newcastle manager before. A lot of it’s to do with Mike. Mike had been hurt by football. Previous managers and regimes he’d had looking after the club, I don’t think he felt comfortable that they were doing as perhaps he thought they should. I think, in me, he’s seen that I’m doing it in a controlled manner, in a correct businesslike manner, but also trying to perform the team beyond our expectations. That’s what I’m about. I think that’s what he’s about in his business. He wants to take on the big boys – Nike, Adidas or whatever (carefully missing out the club’s current kit partners Puma there – WT) – and I want to take on the big boys here. It is about trying to get the best you can with you’ve got. I haven’t got Manchester City’s hand here. I haven’t got Man United’s – I haven’t even got Tottenham’s, in my opinion – but I’ve still got a strong hand, and I’ll try to make it stronger.”
Moving on, he also spoke of his Danny Simpson headache. As you probably know, Simpson’s contract expires at the end of the season, and with Mike Ashley so far refusing to offer him a contract which is on a par with his first team colleagues. Hence it’s looking increasingly like he will going for a far more lucrative contract at another club as he will be available without the encumberance of a transfer fee once this season is over. On this Pardew commented:
“The market’s very small for us. We want players better than what we’ve got, and it’s difficult. Right back is an area where there’s a bit of a question mark, as Danny has not signed a contract at this football club.”
Thanks to the owners parsimony in refusing to pay the going rate for quality players, the club have also faced something of a mini crisis in the centre back department, with versatile James Perch having to be drafted into that position thanks to injuries with Steven Taylor and Fabricio Coloccini
“We probably need another centre-back, I think that’s pretty obvious. We were a bit unfortunate not to get one in the last window.”
However this runs contrary to the earlier words of Managing Director Derek Llambias, who revealed how any Newcastle United activity in the next transfer window would be unlikely, and also how he viewed the first team squad as a collection of Casino chips. In his model, he explained that the club can only afford to have 11 purple high value chips (one for each position) in the side, with lower value up and coming casino chips fighting for a place, and ready to step in when the purple chips are injured.
“We’ve made it quite clear to everyone” said the football genius. “We have 11 positions that are grade A players or ‘purples’, as we call them. Then, under them, we have the players who come in to take the positions so the squad gets bigger. Eventually we’ll have 33 players who will be pushing for a first-team position. Where we are now is that we have, in effect, 11 purples if you count Anita – he can play midfield, right-back, left-back. They are there. In the centre-back area you have Colo and Steven Taylor, who are fantastic centre-backs. Could we bring in another centre-back then? You have Perchy who is doing a fantastic job, Willo who is doing a fantastic job. You can’t have two purples per position because the club can’t afford it. You have to be realistic.”
However, Llambias also reassured fans recently with his usual mantra that the income from the club’s next sponsorship deal with online loan shark Wonga would “put another player on the pitch.”
Getting back to the Silver Supremo though, in typical style, he began expressing his frustrations to the press by expressing that he doesn’t express his frustrations to the Press, and also, seemingly contradicting his own remarks above (“It’s about trying to get the best you can with you’ve got”):
“I think Mike respects me in that I haven’t done it through the Press. I’ve done it in the right manner, in my opinion, in the boardroom. I’ve made it very, very clear that if we’re going to compete with the top clubs we need to pass the ball better, and we need to retain possession. If we’re going to retain possession, we need better players. If we’re going to get better players, not only have we got to produce our own, we’re going to have to search high and low to get the best. We’ve got great confidence in (chief scout) Graham Carr and our scouting team – there are a lot of footsoldiers underneath him – that we’re going to produce our own.”
Of course, managers ALWAYS want better players, that goes without saying. However, this does fly in the face of the reality somewhat. Newcastle United’s players HAVE been very good overall technically when they have been set up in the right way. A motif this season has been the team getting off to a poor start in a few games, possibly going down by a goal or two after losing possession once two often from some long punt which goes astray. With the middle of the pitch often dominated by the opposition as Pardew holds fast to the 90s “kick and rush” methods he learned at Reading, Newcastle then find themselves having to loft the ball over the yawning chasm between the front two and the rest of the team. Once the inevitable happens however, the team will then belatedly change, setting themsleves up they way they should have done from the start. They will then look like a different team, though they then have to play catch up. This has led to a few games where they have come out with one point when it could have been three. However, rather than learning from the experience, Pardew will just repeat the same mistake in the next game. Under these circumstances, the players have been for the most part magnificent in coming back from these head starts, but Pardew is once again attempting to pass the buck for his own tactical shortcomings on to them.
He needs to be a leader, accept his responsibilities and use the considerable talent he already has at his disposal in the right way from the start of games, as looking at the previous record of his parsimonious handlers, the likes of Andrés Iniesta and David Silva won’t be arriving anytime soon.