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  • "Newcastle Have Missed Pardew"

    The post-match routine after a Newcastle home game would always be to head in to town, wait for The Pink to appear and scan through the results and reports as you take in everything that has gone on in the last few hours.

    Just as we’ve lost The Mag and True Faith this week, we bade farewell to The Pink years ago as times and technology overtook the once-invaluable paper. The routine is somewhat different now, following all the goals and goalscorers as often as you like using your phone. On the way out of the ground we can scan through social media and find out what fellow fans thought of the game we just witnessed, argue the toss about who was the best/worst player etc.

    Yesterday, following the latest comprehensive thumping for Newcastle United, I saw two different journalists on Twitter make the same point: “That’s 4 defeats in 5 for #NUFC now. They’re really struggling without Pardew on the touchline.”

    In yet another day filled with outright footballing misery, those tweets provided a rare moment of amusement. Apparently there are people paid to watch and report on football who genuinely believe that our recent poor performances are because we’re missing Alan Pardew! One thing’s for sure – Alan Pardew almost certainly agrees with them.

    Let’s get one thing absolutely clear. In the five games (so far) that Pardew has been absent from the touchline, we’ve missed only one man. Loic Remy.

    This ever-growing stat that I’ve been banging on about on Twitter for a while now sums up a huge amount about what has been wrong with our club pretty much all season. Remy has missed a fair few games now and, of course, Yohan Cabaye has moved on. In total we have now played 982 minutes of league football this season with neither Cabaye nor Remy on the pitch. That’s effectively 11 full games. Without those two players on the pitch we have scored the grand total of 2 goals. TWO goals. Both of them against Crystal Palace, one of them a late penalty at Selhurst with the game already won.

    So what can we learn from that? The obvious conclusion is that they’ve been our two best players this season and we’re a poorer team without them. No great surprise there at all. But what else does it tell us? It’s one thing to be a poorer team, but should we really be *that* much worse? Is it acceptable to send out a team containing Gouffran, Sissoko, Cisse, Ben Arfa, Anita, De Jong and various other internationals only to watch them repeatedly fail to score? In fact, not only are we failing to score, we’re increasingly looking like such a soft touch that our opponents rapidly grow in confidence once they realise we pose no attacking threat. Sunderland arrived up here shortly after Cabaye’s departure & Remy’s suspension and provided us with an ominous sign of things to come when they cuffed us 3-0. That was on 1st February, just 65 days ago. In those 65 days we’ve had to sit through scorelines of 0-3, 0-3, 0-4, 0-3, 0-4 and 0-4 as well as a pathetic 0-1 reverse away to the league’s bottom side.

    You don’t need much of a memory to recall that we ended last season with some similarly feeble displays. Another 0-3 home derby reverse shortly followed by a 0-6 at home to Liverpool. In total, 11 of our last 41 league games have seen us thrashed by 3 or more goals.

    Outright capitulations of this nature have become commonplace. It’s all well and good to say that we’ve got 40-odd points and sit comfortably in mid-table but that was also the case for Southampton last weekend yet they completely took us apart. Having sold one star player and missing another through injury is absolutely no excuse for displays like this. Pardew is doing nothing to rectify the situation, instead simply shrugging his way through post-match interviews and wistfully hoping that Remy will be fit soon. No one is trying to claim that Anita can slot in and replicate what Cabaye offered us. Nor can De Jong replicate Remy’s performances (instead, he seems very adept at replicating Rob McDonald). So if that’s the case, shouldn’t the onus be on the manager to try something new? By “new” I mean a change of tactics and approach. Not just shuffling through different left-backs or replacing your injured goalkeeper with a different one.

    As has already been stated, the season is over, we’re under no pressure, so why not try some real tactical variations? Maybe three at the back with Santon and Haidara on the wings? Why not give Armstrong some playing time instead of persisting with dead losses like De Jong or Shola Ameobi? Pardew’s grim determination to stick to one system and one formation couldn’t have been better underlined today than when he reacted to Sissoko’s absence by simply throwing Gosling in (another dead loss) and asking him to be a like-for-like replacement.

    More worryingly than his lack of willingness to change tactics to get the best out of his players, Pardew also appears to have absolutely no ability to inspire any kind of character, determination or resolve in this squad. We capitulate so readily and so frequently that the excuses no longer wash. It’s no longer possible to call these results a blip of any kind. This season we basically had one strong nine-game run in November/December in which we collected 22 points from 9 games. Take away that brief run of form and this side has collected 65 points from 64 league games. For this group of players that’s an extremely poor return. Yet people honestly believe our current struggles are because we’re missing our radgie manager on the touchline?

    Far from missing Alan Pardew – his presence has been all too apparent in the last few games and results like this are just way beyond unacceptable. We’ve seen enough. He has to go.
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