Many thanks to “ToonBano” from the Toon blog www.toonbano.com for his sixth guest blog here – wt.
As I get over the shock of actually winning a game from behind for the first time in over two years and trying to get my head around winning back to back victories for the first time this season, something amongst our latest turn in fortune has jumped out at me (apart from the new signings) and that is the system. A formation of 4-2-3-1 has been paramount throughout recent weeks and it’s about bloody time. Maybe it’s because Demba Ba is no longer in a black ‘n’ white shirt as he gets his head kicked in by Coloccini but the ‘Hoofball 4-4-2’ days seem to be over. Are they over for good?
If this is the case and we are no longer subjected to the nonsense of lumping it up to the strikers, even when we are losing, then Pardew deserves some credit for finally seeing the light. After all it’s in my opinion that it was this factor of a pre-historic style of football that was holding this club back over anything else. Not the injuries or the Europa League, but the totally cowardly non-attempt at even trying to play to our strengths and actually play some football. Our long ball stats are dropping like a stone with every game that goes by. Thank the Lord.
You just need to have a look back over some of my previous blogs to see the absolute slating Pards has received over his total lack of any strategy. Now that he has seemingly sorted this crippling factor out look at the results. They haven’t come immediately as we lost at home to Everton and Reading in recent weeks but that was mainly down to individual incompetence and baffling substitutions not because the system or style of football was ineffective. We were 2-1 down to Chelsea but we stuck at the 4-2-3-1 instead of resorting to 4-4-2 hoofball with Shola and turned it around. It works!
We even actually battered Reading in that first half and could/should have been 3 up if Cisse had his finishing boots on but Reading’s keeper decided to have a ‘worldy’ for the first and last time this season to keep his team in the game. Once Pards made his ‘mistakes’ with substitutions Reading took full advantage. Plus some awful defending to allow Le Fondre to score two avoidable goals. What I will say though about that Reading game is it was a blessing in disguise, especially as regards to reinforcements required.
I believe that shocking home defeat awoke Mike Ashley from hibernation with a straight kick in the balls and forced him to get his cheque book out as relegation was genuinely staring him in the face. Do you think Ash wants to miss out on this increased TV rights money and everything else the Premier League has to offer? No chance. So he and his sidekick got to work in bringing the players in that we actually needed in the summer. Not that the 4 new signings in as many days were knee-jerk reactions though eh Derek?
As soon as Sissoko, Gouffran, Mbiwa and Haidara were through the door, they rejuvenated our dressing room and club overall with some much needed assertiveness and impetus to take on the league, instead of laying down and dying with excuses spewing out our arses to explain what was going wrong. Excuses solve nothing. We needed action and we got it. Fair play to all for making it happen. Hopefully lessons have been learned as regards to our transfer policy sluggishness. If you stand still in football you go backwards as the saying goes and it’s true. Nobody can disagree after this season.
What Pardew also deserves credit for is who and where he has played our new signings. AP seems to have decided that 4-2-3-1 is the way forward and I am not going to disagree with him. Having Cisse up front on his own suits him down to the ground as he has a freedom he just didn’t have playing up front with Demba Ba. Plus having two wide players in advanced areas is a must. It’s a shame Jonas has took up one of those spaces but I’m not going to go into that. Benny is back soon so let’s just leave Jonas to bask in his goal.
We all expected Sissoko to slot in centre midfield allowing Cabaye or Marveaux to take up the position ‘in the hole’ but no. Pardew has recognised Sissoko as the man for the job and hasn’t it paid off? Finally I can categorically say Pardew has made a decision most people wouldn’t necessarily go with that has paid off. Moussa has been a revelation playing off Cisse with Cabaye and Perch protecting him. His power and pace along with his eye for a pass has worked perfectly. His goals against Chelsea are a handsome bonus.
Gouffran on the left has been a welcome addition to our team as this is exactly what we have been crying out for. A natural forward playing from the left in an ‘inside forward’ role with the instincts to drive at goal. This is what Demba Ba offered during the 4-3-3 days that was under appreciated. Ba may not have scored himself but this position offers balance and a constant threat across the forward line. Having Jonas constantly drop in front of our left back doesn’t stretch the opposition’s defence. Gouffran now does this and does it well.
Once Ben Arfa is back we will have a completely balanced team and strength in every area to give any team a run for their money. Plus Chieck Tiote is back to make up a midfield trio of Sissoko, Cabaye and Tiote we’re all frothing at the mouth at. Name me a stronger midfield than that in the Premier League. Solid doesn’t even begin to describe it. I always felt that even with his goals, Demba Ba was holding us back as a team and was actually harming it with his selfishness and greed. I said as much here. Now that he is gone, it’s there for all to see.
We look like a team again. We actually pass the ball around to each other, we seem to have confidence in each other and our assertiveness to stop the opposition scoring and sticking the ball in the net ourselves is already a lot better. Yohan Cabaye coming back into the team and Coloccini deciding to stay has of course helped us massively but our turn in form is deeper than that. We have team spirit again. We had lost that this season. It is now back and hopefully for good.
Derek Llambias has been doing the rounds lately stating that Pardew is here to stay and that stability is the key for this football club. Well that’s all well and good but it is success that breeds stability not just keeping someone employed for the sake of it. Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger have earned their long stays in management with the same club by being successful. If Fergie hadn’t won the FA Cup in 1990 he would have been sacked. He was even very lucky to have lasted that long. If Wenger hadn’t have been instantly successful he may also have had the chop.
The jury is still out on Pardew as to whether he is the right man to take this football club forward. He did amazingly well last season but you have to say that has been evened out by being pretty much abysmal this season. There is no way this football club should have been subjected to a relegation battle. Not with this squad. Injuries have been unwanted problems with 2/3 players out at any given time but they have not been a ‘crisis’ with 6/7 first team players out leaving us to the bare bones. Don’t believe that nonsense for a second. Have a look over the starting XI for each game this season if you doubt it here
I have been (rightly) calling Pardew up on the decisions he has been making this season and recognising his obvious failings that has contributed to this total mess of a season. But if he is adamant that a new system of 4-2-3-1 / 4-3-3 with a strategy of passing the ball to each other and using a player in the hole is the way this team is to play it’s football then maybe there is hope for us after all. If he also now has a bigger voice over bringing much needed players in then he used to have, then again, maybe Pardew as NUFC manager might just work after all.
Pardew has been nothing but a puppet up to this point of his managerial career at Newcastle Utd, used to spew the propaganda and nonsense Llambias and Ashley want to feed the fans and media alike but don’t have the balls to do it themselves. It’s no coincidence Llambias has now started doing press interviews again after we have won a couple of games. Where was he when we were dumped out the cup at Brighton? Puppet Pardew was left alone to bear the brunt.
Next season will be massive for Alan Pardew and will go a long way to decide how his career here at Newcastle will go. If we have a good season he will get the time off the fans. If he has one like this year, the fans will rightfully call for his head and give Ashley and Llambias a decision to make. If he actually manages to win something like Alex Ferguson did in his third full season, then he can stay as long as he wants.
Because like I say, it’s success that breeds stability. Nothing else.
On to White Hart Lane we go for three wins on the bounce? Howay!