NUFC – a flat end to a season – that “never was”

The epitomy of Strong leadership

The epitomy of Strong leadership

Well here we are safe and sound on the back of what could only be described as a bloody awful season. The fact that we were safe with one game to spare – through a squeaky backside win at already relegated QPR along with Wigan’s deficiencies saved us the ignominy of a second relegation in 5 years under Michael Ashley.

We lost every other game we played this season – exactly 50% with a staggering NINETEEN defeats.

The previous relegation season yielded 18 defeats – that puts it into perspective. In recent seasons, Blackpool and West Ham were relegated having also lost 19 games each. This is the kind of company we are keeping with this season’s record. Frightening, sickening – unforgiveable?

Should it be repeated, then we are in with one hell of a chance of doing an unwanted double under our voiceless owner.

We cannot go into the new season thinking that this one was a mere blip, and that should everyone stay fit it will be a charge back up the table. The knock in confidence will be massive, add to that the lack of fear teams will approach Newcastle with – everyone will fancy boosting their tally with a match against our rear-guard who on average will give the opposition 1.79 goals per game.

The pressure we put ourselves under through style of play and lack of cutting edge has really been the key this season. A reliance on playing players in unnatural positions, meaning the opposition are constantly on the front foot and coming back at Newcastle in wave after wave. We can’t retain the ball up top, we don’t play with natural width worrying opposition full backs, our creativity is almost nil. Aaarrgghhh! Deep breaths, rant over.

I do not bring HBA into the equation as I think he has the capability if fit of being one of the best in Europe. But because of the teams lack of ideas and flair he takes on far too much responsibility and has resembled myself back in the day in the school yard blindly taking on everybody in site and losing the ball in dangerous areas. But there are no jumpers for goalposts at SJP (at least not yet) and the stakes couldn’t be higher.

We need a radical rethink in how we can attack teams and surrender territory (if not possession) and keep their players worried about us – it just has not happened enough this year.
Scandalously we have failed to score in 11 PL first team outings (16 if you include cups). On top of that we have scored once in a League match 15 times. Only seven times did we score two, four times netting three and once netting four.

There is something wrong, the old analogy of not being able to “score in a brothel” comes to mind. Such is the impotency of Newcastle’s strike-force. Instead of orange at half time maybe a bit of Viagra might do the trick!

But another analogy enters the fray “Couldn’t organise a piss up in a brewery”. Has Pardew really gone from hero to zero? I some eyes, he has already gone. In others eyes he never had it.

I went to see him do a talk in at the Fed Brewery last year and the guy was fantastic, his passion and presence could not be ignored. He carried himself superbly well and I truly believed we would be in safe hands under this guy. I totally subscribed into the fact that the players would buy into him. However I had been dubious on his appointment – I mean, seriously who wasn’t. The mistrust of our owner and Llambias was such that anyone brought in must be a patsy to the regime. Words such as “Stooge and Puppet” – being frequently used in conversation.

There was only one way he was going to get by that ill feeling towards his appointment and the antipathy towards the owner and that was to bring home the bacon of results. Can anyone deny that Pardew did that last season? Doubters will say the players did it in spite of Pardew, his fellow managers obviously did not think so when the voted his performance with his players the best in the country.

But here we land present day climbing up from the trenches, covered in clarts, having dodged a big bugger of a bullet with our name etched on it, then only at the last minute scribbled out.

Pardew now has it all to do again. If we are to believe what we read, we are status quo as regards Alan’s job. Can he get NUFC off to a good start next season? If he doesn’t then the heat will get too much and he will go. I am sure of it. People will then say that the club have wasted half a season seeing what if?

Whilst trying to enjoy a post match pint in the Old George yesterday, I stepped in the bar to see an irate guy bellowing and berating all those around for not standing up and saying how terrible Pardew is. Betting everyone that would listen, that under AP we will be guaranteed to be relegated next year. Then started a chant of “Oh we hate Pardew….we are the Pardew haters”. Not many joined, but the fact that they did spells it out loud and clear – he is onto a tanning unless we go off like a rocket.

To go off like a rocket, we need home wins, we need goals, we need clean sheets, we need additions to the first eleven and squad. That’s a lot of DIY required. Big Mike is going to have to dig deeper than ever before – will he do it?

As fans we could not do any more. I thought the atmosphere and attitude for a “dead rubber” affair was excellent and the lads were backed as always. We don’t want much, but what we want is rarely listened to.

I am not shouting for Pardew’s head (yet), nor am I happy just to sit blindly and hope for the best on the back of excuses. What we need is decisiveness, strong leadership and vision. Have we got any?

The very least we can say is that we finished above our very own noisy neighbours. But who the hell grabs any solace out of this? Top dogs my arse.

Until pre season, we can stew on our own misgivings and no doubt argue the toss relentlessly.

Over to you Newcastle United.


NUFC safe, but what now?

Did somebody say garbage?

Did somebody say garbage?

So here we are, gladdened by escaping the clutches of relegation by narrowly beating the worst team in the league.

Here we are at a crossroads for the short term future and ambitions for the club.

There is nothing we can do about it now, it’s gone. Lessons need to be learned, questions must be answered. The season highlights DvD is set to be arrowing it’s way to a bargain bin near you!

What kind of massochist would want to sit and review 18 defeats? In fact some of the content from recent weeks could make it a cult X-rated horror for those who like to scare themselves.

Not for me, I would rather nail my hands to a sinking ship. I am consigning this season to the dustbin. After all that’s where it belongs as it has been absolute garbage.

Don’t get me wrong, there have been some highlights – like the European adventure  – but very few others. Which poses the REAL questions.

  1. Will the club invest significant funds in improving a squad that is not strong enough?
  2. What are the ambitions of the club and owner?
  3. Is the current playing squad good enough for Newcastle United?
  4. Is the current Management and Scouting strategy correct for Newcastle United?
  5. Where do we go from here?

I hope from the bottom of my heart that the club will learn a huge lesson from the ridiculous stalemate in the transfer market last summer. We know that there is extra money from TV revenue, and without doubt we desperately need to strengthen what I see as an unbalanced squad. A smattering of British talent would not go amiss either. I am not against the foreign/French lads in anyway (as long as they are good enough).

The ambitions of the club and owner will be found out by the movements in the transfer market. If we buy a Bigirimana and an Amilitano as opposed to top quality players who can affect the first XI then you have your answer. Unfortunately we may have to wait for a Chronicle special where Llambias waffles about Purple players and such tripe, to even get a sniff of whats going in their heads. The big Boss certainly isn’t going to say a dickie bird.

The current squad obviously is not good enough. To be beaten 18 times and ship 67 goals is bloody awful. I would say we have some good players, but some that can count themselves fortunate to still be anywhere near the black and white shirt. People will point at Pardew, his tactics and team selections, but you just can’t put it all down to a manager.

The first team is not balanced and that needs to be addressed. Two strikers of quality need to come in (no more Shola on 70 minutes), two wingers who can actually cross balls from the by line would be nice, a creative central midfield player capable of getting half a dozen to ten goals (Lampard anybody?), a commanding centre half to replace Colo if he leaves and a left back. But its easy sitting here saying it, it’s another doing it.

I also see a few players agitating for a move. They will not have enjoyed the season and the flak that has come their way and will no doubt have their agents looking for a route out. If so, tatty bye and shut your door on the way oot.

The manager has to take the ultimate responsibility for everything Newcastle United, after an incredible first full season where the goals flew in and the clean sheets were bountiful – the flip side has came in full force this. There have been numerous and lengthy injuries to key players (and partnerships), suspensions at bad times – but these happen at every club. However we really have been crippled this season with the extra games on top of the injury list.

We all knew in the summer the squad was not big enough. We have all been pretty hacked off recently with the way it has gone, and a lot of good supporters have been calling for Pardew to be sacked. I do think though that he will be given another season – or at least until Christmas to prove that this was a blip. But on the other hand it would not surprise me one iota if the axe fell on Pards.

 We really have reached a point where you could not really argue a strong case either way. Who would come in and work under the current regimes restrictions is another matter. If they have decided Alan is no longer the man for the job – they need to act swiftly and decisively (not a word you would associate with NUFC’s hierarchy) a successor would have to be brought in asap and allow them to spend the funds to improve on players they want.

The much lauded scouting system is under scrutiny. I am personally not a huge believer in it. Mike Ashley like the great colonialists, donned in pith helmet scouring the globe for hidden treasures, but only willing to trade in cheap trainers and bags of salt. You get what you pay for sometimes. Unsettling players, who then agitate for the move means you get more player for your money – but for me it also means you are getting a player with a flawed character. We now have a team full of these players, foreign trinkets to be polished up for resale.

Now before I get shot down, there have been some real successes. But as they say variety is the spice of life and really I would like to see a team blended of quality British players, studded with quality foreign imports full of both youth and experience. We seem hell bent on sticking to one plan and that can and possibly will leave us heading down a “Cul de sac”.

Where do we go from here? I am tempted to say who the bloody hell knows. But what I think means sweet Fanny Adams. It’s over to the club now and a summer that looks set to be very interesting in the short term future of our beloved Newcastle United.

In the very short term we have our final home game of the season against Arsenal who stuck seven past us at the Emirates. Unlike our gaffer, I do care if we lose 0-4. If we win we could even finish tenth – how bizarre. Though that would not paper over the cracks would it? You would need a hell of a lot of wall-paper.