It’s been literally a tale of two half seasons for Newcastle’s return to the Premier League, as the first half of the season was steered by Chris Hughton, helped along with the presence and goals of Andy Carroll and a very brief appearance from Hatem Ben Arfa.
In December, Hughton was, judged by many, to be unfairly sacked and Alan Pardew was brought in three days after his departure. He only had Andy Carroll’s services for three games before he was sold to Liverpool for a British record fee of £35m and subsequently, had to rely on the current squad and free transfer, Shefki Kuqi for the rest of the season.
Although the jury is still out on Alan Pardew, overall statistics show his record for the second half of the season is actually very similar to Chris Hughton’s reign.
Although, Hughton has got a marginally better win ratio than Pardew, both managers have a similar points accumulated percentage with Pardew gaining a larger percentage of draws.
At home, Alan Pardew has done better than Hughton – picking up over half of the points on offer at St James’ Park.
A closer look at the home results shows us a resounding 3-1 win over Liverpool, 1-1 draw with Spurs, a goaless draw against champions Man United and coming back to draw from a 4-0 deficit at half time against Arsenal, showing that Newcastle were able to compete against the stronger teams of the Premiership. With this in mind, it could be argued that Pardew had the more difficult home fixture list and achieved the better results.
Hughton only managed two wins at home, a 6-0 opening day win against Aston Villa and a 5-1 mauling of local rivals Sunderland.
On the other hand, based on our away form, Hughton gained a greater win and points accumulated percentage than Pardew. Hughton won as many points as Pardew did, but with three games less. Chris Hughton managed wins at West Ham, Arsenal and Everton – with Ben Arfa and Carroll scoring the winning goals in those three matches. Two influential goalscorers that Alan Pardew did not have at his disposal.
A fact highlighted by Newcastle scoring fewer away goals under Pardew’s reign, even though he managed three games more – failing to score in six of the eleven away games and as a result, a poorer return for Newcastle and their travelling away support.
Not much between the two managers, despite Pardew having more managerial experience than Hughton and this was quoted as being the reason why Hughton was sacked.
Although there is a discomfort in the questionable method of how Pardew was appointed, his results haven’t been too bad at all and maintaining Premier League status was the main objective last season. Mission accomplished… for now.
Pardew recognises that we need a couple of centre forwards to tackle our problem in front of goal. Although we scored 41 goals at home last season (second highest to Man Utd), a few of them were large scores eg Villa 6-0, Sunderland 5-1, West Ham 4-0 and Arsenal 4-4. Our away goals record (15) was the joint lowest in the Premier League last season.
We’ve brought in Demba Ba, who had a very impressive loan period for West Ham in the second half of the season – scoring seven goals from twelve appearances. We’ve had offers for Kévin Gameiro and Mevlüt Erdinç spurned and Shane Long and Daniel Sturridge (on loan), both continue to be rumoured to be in Pardew’s sights. We’ve also brought in French midfielders Sylvain Marveaux, Yohan Cabaye and Mehdi Abeid, hoping to add more creativity and pace into our team. Adding to that, this season sees the return of Hatem Ben Arfa and Dan Gosling – Pardew described them as ‘two new signings’.
This season will be a huge test for Pardew. After selling leading goalscorers Andy Carroll and Kevin Nolan, a lot of worries will be where our goals are coming from. Jose Enrique and Joey Barton have contract issues and their imminent future and whether they will be still at St James’s Park in September still remains in doubt.
Pardew has brought his own players in and starting to mould the team into his own. I’ve got everything crossed that this season will be a success and that it won’t be as much of a rollercoaster as last season, but that wouldn’t be Newcastle – would it?