Jason Coulter discusses the turmoil at Newcastle and whether there is light at the end of the St. James’ Park tunnel for Alan Pardew.
It’s a testing time to be a Newcastle fan. On the pitch, the performances have been poor, while off the pitch the board have performed even worse. There were strong rumours last week that bedraggled boss Alan Pardew was to be sacked after the dismal 1-0 defeat at Stoke, but it seems his job is safe for now at least. The question remains however, as to whether he can turn Newcastle’s ailing campaign around.
The squad ended last season losing seven of their final eight games and failing to score in five of those. With that in mind there was a general feeling of concern around St. James Park during pre-season. Fans were angry at the lack of funds available for transfers, particularly after receiving a rumoured £20 million for Yohan Cabaye in January.
It isn’t just money that Newcastle fans have been upset about of course, the majority of their vitriol is saved for owner Mike Ashley. The terrible treatment of Kevin Keegan and his subsequent sacking set alarm bells ringing, and this led to the disastrous relegation in 2008-09.
The bizarre appointment of Joe Kinnear as Director of Football earlier in the year gave the football world much entertainment but for Newcastle’s fans it was simply an embarrassment. The fundamental problem on Tyneside is that the club simply isn’t being run properly. Unfortunately, it’s the fans who are paying the real price.
Seven games into the new season has seen Newcastle continuing their poor form. It hasn’t started well for the new signings either. Goals were a problem last season and although they have strengthened the attack with Emmanuel Riviere and midfielder Remy Cabella, there is still a Yohan Cabaye shaped hole in central midfield that needed filling during the summer.
They brought in the useful Jack Colback on a free transfer, but he simply doesn’t have the ability of Cabaye and it’s still a position Newcastle need to strengthen. The two Frenchmen Riviere and Cabella have struggled to adapt to the Premiership despite some positive early displays too. While Cabella has looked lively and dangerous, there has been little end product, and the same can be said of Riviere.
Dutch defender Daryl Janmaat has been solid in defence however, unlike some of his team-mates. Having Papiss Cisse return from injury is a big lift to the squad and with four goals in three appearances, he may well have single-handedly saved Pardew’s job.
Pardew’s record in management is hardly an inspiring one. Despite early promise at Reading where he won promotion to the old Division One, and subsequently left to join West Ham, Pardew has been sacked in the three other management jobs he has held. His spells at West Ham and Charlton ended with a serious sense of underachievement, while his dismissal at Southampton was reportedly due to poor staff morale.
His time in charge of Newcastle started well – he managed a 5th place finish in the 2011-12 season. Since then the side have been very inconsistent, finishing 16th the following season and 10th last year. One thing Pardew has in his favour however, is that he seems to have the backing of his players. After scoring against Swansea at the weekend, Papiss Cisse ran straight to the dugout to celebrate with the manager – something that won’t go unnoticed by Mike Ashley.
It’s not often a manager comes back from the brink, but there may be a few positive signs for Alan Pardew. He has been backed by Ashley so far and it seems he will have time to turn this season around. After all, if one win in fifteen league games doesn’t get him the sack, what will?
There are other, bigger problems at Newcastle United and it’s unfortunate that Pardew is having to take the full force of the fan’s hate. Results must improve, but he has a strong squad and once the new signings start to gel they should see some wins coming their way.
They may languish in the relegation zone for now, but Newcastle are simply too good to go down this season. Although, there is something familiar about that sentence…
Jason Coulter, Pundit Arena.