After Jonas Gutierrez publically criticised Newcastle United’s lack of intensity in their training sessions last season, Alan Pardew went away for a while, had a think, and has decided that both his staff and himself “need to be honest about it” and admit that mistakes were made.
He then goes on to suggest that Gutierrez saying training sessions are “a bit too easy” was a little misleading at least by once again pointing the finger of blame at the stresses of playing in the Europa League, injuries and a lack of quality players.
“You’ve got to be open and honest about it as a staff,” the Silver Supremo began, continuing:
“My staff – my immediate staff and myself as manager – need to be honest about it, mistakes were made. You need to be honest enough to admit them and look at when and why they were made.”
Pardew then went on to discount Gutierrez’s critique, falling back on his old chestnuts:
“We didn’t purchase enough players in the summer to carry us through two programmes. We took injuries on board when those two competitions were running parallel and that impacted on us massively when we were moving towards Christmas and then we got ourselves into a bad situation.
“I also think that the Thursday-Sunday scenario took away from a lot of the good work we were doing on the training ground because we didn’t have enough time to recover.
“I think you see Jonas Gutierrez’s point about training last year was probably a bit too easy – well a lot of that was down to recovery. It was difficult to get in the amount of work we were doing the year before.”
“If we had a bigger group last year maybe we would have had a bit more intensity in the group that were training – maybe 10 (training) rather than four.
“Whenever we get back to Europe again that is something we need to make sure happens but as it stands we don’t have that problem. I think we’ve got a good team – I like to think we will bring someone in – but nevertheless we have a lot of very good players.”
However he omitted to mention that teams such has Fulham, Stoke and even Birmingham City didn’t really have the same problems when they competed in the Europa League. Even most of the very biggest teams who thrive in European competition actually have smaller groups than Newcastle United, preferring to work with a first team squad of around 24 players. Here’s what two other managers who have had extensive experience of European competition had to say on the subject, Jose Mourinho and Michael Laudrup:
“I know one year that Barcelona played with 19 first-team players, as well as a few younger players, and they played every three days. It is possible.” – Swansea manager Michael Laudrup, winner of 15 major trophies as a player and 5 as a manager on Swansea’s entry into European competition next season.
“We have a short squad, but it is my decision that the squad is short because I want a squad of 20 players, no more, with the risks a short squad has, but also with the good things a short squad has. The good things are that the side is competitive, everybody feels part of it. So I hope I don’t read again “Mourinho wants more players,” because I don’t want more players. I’m happy with the short squad I have, with the good things and the bad things.” - Jose Mourinho, winner of 20 major trophies as a manager and whose Real Madrid team played 58 games last season.