While it’s only a minor crisis on Tyneside, the situation at the club remains a worry with an owner lacking of ambition, a manager who doesn’t know his best eleven and a set of players devoid of inspiration and desire. The club have still had a good season up to now as they lie in 9th place with a higher finish still a possibility, but events over the last month have killed any optimism that Newcastle fans had. Many expect this summer will bring huge changes at St James’ Park with the squad needing freshening up, while changes upstairs could also be made after Joe Kinnear’s exit. They desperately need somebody who can negotiate transfers as they fell short in the last two windows.
The sale of Yohan Cabaye to PSG has had a huge effect on the season. He made the side tick in the first half of the season playing behind Loic Remy. He ran games getting seven goals and two assists in the process. The club really should have replaced the Frenchman for the second half of the season, but the lack of a new arrival shows the lack of ambition from Mike Ashley. With Newcastle all but safe from relegation, the owner must have thought it was the right time to cash in on his star man. Cabaye shows the club’s transfer strategy perfectly as they bought low and sold high. Players across Europe will now look at Newcastle as a viable career move in order to reach the top of the game like Cabaye now has.
Things aren’t looking much better on the pitch with the club picking up only one point away at Norwich since Cabaye’s departure. That was followed by three heavy losses against Sunderland, Chelsea and Tottenham. Newcastle have conceded 10 goals in four matches since their star player left, while they have yet to score in the post Cabaye era. The performances since the transfer window closed show that perhaps the players are unhappy with the club not signing a replacement as they have looked very average with very few players playing anywhere near their ability. Many expected Hatem Ben Arfa to step up, but he has looked very average and he was dropped in midweek.
Alan Pardew is a man who is always under pressure, but on the whole he has done a good job given the situation at the club. His main problem is that he often loses crucial games such as the last three derby matches and he has a very poor record in the cup competitions. These are the matches that fans remember, so it’s hardly surprising that the fans don’t fully back their manager. After the side’s recent poor run, Pardew needs a few results soon or the discontent will continue to grow. The club have time to regroup before their next match which is at home against Aston Villa, they simply can’t afford to lose there.
The main problem at the club appears to be the lack of ambition and direction from Mike Ashley. Nobody really knows what would be considered a success for the club with now clear aim being publicised. At the moment the club is stagnating and very quickly at that. If the owner made a £25-30m investment in the summer transfer market, the club could push on and mix it with the top sides in the division given the impressive scouting network at the club. Yet that sort of investment looks unlikely, money will certainly be spent in the summer, they simply have no other alternative.