I’m going to start with a biggy; so big in fact that I’m going to split it up into bite size chunks for your digestion. Basically, this series of blogs will investigate NUFC head honcho Alan Scott Pardew’s role at the club, delving deep into the important issues surrounding the clubs fortunes since he took charge and pinpointing the deficiencies that have lead us to having not the best of seasons so far. This will be an attempt to put across my opinion that wor Alan doesn’t know the difference between what he does right and what he does wrong.
PART I: Transfers
Let me take you back to the end of May 2012, we’d finished 5th in the Premiership, our highest finish for 8 seasons, qualified for the Europa League, narrowly missing out on the Champions League, and our great leader had won both the Premier League “Manager of the Season” and LMA “Manager of the Year” awards. For a Newcastle United supporter their was nothing but optimism for the next campaign as we eagerly awaited the summer recruitment drive. And then the wheels began to fall off the bandwagon.
Our squad last season wasn’t the biggest, but we didn’t sustain very many long term injuries either; so we comfortably survived and thrived in one of the three competitions we played in. However, with a potential 22 extra games (if we get all the way to the final) in the next season to contend with, the obvious thing to do would be to grow the squad by continuing the policy which saw success in the last few seasons until we had a large enough squad to compete in Europe as well as continuing to progress domestically. Ideally you would like to have a half decent replacement for every position on the field, allowing you cover for injuries and to play two games a week with a chance of winning; something that teams who regularly qualify for Europe do without thinking.
Instead we got rid of backup players such as Best, Guthrie, Smith, Lovenkrands and Forster; and replaced them with the likes of Anita, Amalfitano and Bigi. These are good signings who have done well in their own right (except maybe Amalfitano), but we ended the transfer window with less players than we started with. Pardew at the time explained the lack of transfer activity on the board not giving him the funds and has attempted to flood the squad with unproven players from the “development squad” in an effort to give them playing time. This in turn affected our league form from the off and we now are in the position we are because of this, there have been many recent examples of the same thing happening to similar clubs who have entered Europe and struggled to maintain performance in the league; there is no excuse and the club should have taken steps to combat this problem before it happened.
Although we have gotten through the group stages in Europa League, we made it harder for ourselves; struggling to finish second in a very easy group and having to draft in players who had played at the weekend to make sure we scraped through. Fortunately we drew an easier (at first glance) team in Metalist Kharkiv (who Pardew thought were a Russian giant) in the last 32 of what was a minefield of dangerous clubs. This decision in my opinion is ridiculous as getting into the Europa League was our reward for doing so well last season, and we are effectively using the competition to experiment with players who would in normal circumstances not make the Premier League squad. This shows tremendous disrespect to the second most prestigious competition in Europe and we will pay for this in the latter stages.
We now know the lack of funds excuse was a smear as we are now attempting to sign the same players who we were linked with in the summer (Debuchy, Remy ect…) which has effectively taken us back 6 months and into a situation which these new signings in January may not be able to get us out of. Some of the reasons for these mistakes will be revealed in the next part of this series, ambition and motivation.
Thanks again for having me on this blog and i’m looking forward to your responses.