Are Newcastle Set For a Relegation Battle?

Are Newcastle Set For a Relegation Battle?

Newcastle have been on a wretched run of form in 2014, with the side only managing five wins in the league, which is an awful record for a side many expect to see in the top ten on a regular basis. The turmoil that has engulfed St James’ Park has seen protests against the manager and the owner, coaching staff abusing the fans, poor performances on the pitch and players publicly stating they would like to leave. The start of this season has relegation written all over it, but there is still time to turn things around and they have the players to do so. For Newcastle, the main issue is can Alan Pardew motivate a side, given the increasing amount of questions being raised about his own position.

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This season, the Magpies have yet to win a game, and with it being October already, that is a huge concern. They have only been in the lead for one minute, and that came against Crystal Palace, after they had themselves come from behind. That was the moment that should have seen Newcastle click into gear, but instead they conceded a sloppy late equaliser, which brings us on to the main problem at the club: the defence. Only QPR and Everton have conceded more goals than Newcastle, who have conceded 14, which is already 2 per match. Fabricio Coloccini looks a shadow of his old self, Mike Williamson is steady, but hardly spectacular, and Steven Taylor is very ill-disciplined and inconsistent. Funnily enough their best defender is out on loan at Roma, as Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa couldn’t get a game under Alan Pardew, showing one of the manager’s many flaws.

Alan Pardew would point to injuries and new signings bedding in as reasons for the side’s slow start. Siem de Jong, Davide Santon and Rolando Aarons would all be featuring for the side regularly, with the first two likely to be starters this season, while the latter was starting to make a name for himself before his injury. The new signings did provide some excitement, however Remy Cabella, Emmanuel Riviere and Facundo Ferreyra aren’t yet settled in the North East and they haven’t got to grips with the Premier League, the latter is yet to even feature as he still gets match fit for a top flight match.

The weekend did see a welcome point for Newcastle away at Swansea, who have started the season well and they came from behind twice, showing the fight is still within the squad. Gabriel Obertan and Sammy Ameobi both got an assist, despite being available for transfer in the summer. This shows how badly things have gone for Alan Pardew as he is now relying on players that he didn’t even want three months ago. However, the direct wing play of the two created problems for Swansea and Pardew now has to play with two wingers as it is clear it works. He will also have Aarons and Cabella available to him in those positions, but he may want to bring in another natural wide man in January, especially if Newcastle remain in the mire.

Looking at some of the other teams at the bottom of the league, Newcastle should be able to survive this season given the quality of their squad. Remy Cabella and Siem de Jong have too much quality not to make an impact this season, while Papiss Cisse looks to have returned to goalscoring form, and his influence will be needed this season. If they make a managerial change, Newcastle should pull away with ease and could even challenge for a top half finish with the right appointment, but under Pardew, avoiding relegation has to be the aim and that is a slight on his ability as a manager, rather than the quality of the squad.