After a second straight Tyne-Wear derby defeat, the pressure on Alan Pardew is starting to increase at a rapid rate. Over the last 12 months Newcastle fans have been split on their manager, as the team continues to be extremely inconsistent. The same problems continue to arise and it looks like Pardew is completely out of ideas. The message coming out of Newcastle is that they want stability after so many managerial changes in the past decade but stability only leads to success if you have the right man. It’s clear to most that the current manager isn’t capable of leading Newcastle to a top half finish on a consistent basis which is where the club should be.
Newcastle’s main issue last year was their leaky defence, as they conceded more goals (68) than all but three other Premier League teams, two of which were relegated. This hasn’t been rectified yet this campaign as they have conceded more (16) than every team in the division, apart from the bottom two. They have conceded two or more goals in four of their last five matches. Pardew may blame this on injuries and suspensions to his central defenders, but it’s clear to see that the side are still prone to leaking soft goals. He still doesn’t know his best central defence partnership and he has had the same four centre backs since January. This highlights the manager’s indecision as he started the season with Steven Taylor partnering Fabricio Coloccini, then used Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa for a period, before using Mike Williamson. He needs to decide on a partnership to create some consistency at the back, which will prevent the side conceding as many goals as they have done over the previous 15 months.
Another massive problem for Pardew and his staff are set pieces. His Newcastle side hasn’t scored a goal from a corner since October 2011 when Demba Ba headed in against Wolves. Two years have since passed and the side must have had at least 600 corners since then without a goal. This is abysmal for a professional football side, never mind a Premier League outfit. He has a player who can put in a decent delivery in Yohan Cabaye, so it’s unbelievable that they are so impotent from set pieces. The issue must lie with the movement in the penalty box which Pardew is responsible for. This was highlighted by Paul Dummett’s goal against Liverpool as he showed incredible movement to get in behind the defence to score from a Cabaye free kick. Dummett was only playing his second Premier League match for Newcastle and may not have been involved in the set piece training as Pardew wouldn’t have expected him to feature, so his movement must have been advised by somebody other than the Newcastle manager.
The set piece routines haven’t changed too much throughout the last two years which suggests Pardew is incapable of coaching his players to become threatening from them. Even though the majority of teams only score 3 or 4 times a season from set plays, these goals can sometimes make a difference between 7th and 9th in the league. Surely it should be a priority for Pardew to rectify this problem?
Newcastle fans also accuse Pardew of having his favourites within the dressing room which influences his team selection. This has become less of an issue this season as he has dropped the misfiring Papiss Cisse which he was reluctant to do last season. It will be interesting to see if he does drop the out of form Moussa Sissoko, as he has yet to do that since the midfielder joined in January. The bigger issue is that some of the better players in the squad only get limited opportunities to impress. Vurnon Anita and Sylvain Marveuax have impressed the Newcastle fans massively during the past year but Pardew drops them after one poor performance while others get an unlimited amount of chances. Marveuax didn’t even make the bench on Sunday which is criminal considering he offers more lots of creativity. Even Gabriel Obertan is ahead of him and the former Manchester United player has yet to impress in a black and white shirt.
The general consensus among Newcastle fans and the media is that Pardew is running out of time after the derby defeat at the Stadium of Light. His side have been haunted by the same issues for the past season and it’s clear Pardew has absolutely no idea how to solve them. His constant tinkering shows he has no belief in his tactics and team selection which is rubbing off on the players as it’s clear to them that they don’t have the manager’s full backing. It looked like everyone on the pitch yesterday expected to lose against Sunderland and that negative attitude must be coming from the manager. If Mike Ashley has any ambition then he would remove Alan Pardew and replace him with a young manager with lots of fresh ideas. Southampton did this with Mauricio Pochettino and look at them now. A change needs to be made quickly or Newcastle will disappear into the bottom half and could even be involved in another relegation battle. Their squad could challenge in the top half but Pardew can’t.