From the heights of 5th in the Premier League after narrowly missing out on a Champions League place last season, Alan Pardew has this week admitted his team are in a relegation scrap. With their current point tally resembling that of 2008-09 when the Toon were relegated, you must ask how have Newcastle fallen into this position?
The first thing that must be stated is that shrewd signings last year had built a formidable Newcastle team that outperformed all expectations. The signings of Santon, Ba and Cabaye, paired with players like Tiote, were vital in the early months with Ba impressing everyone with his goal tally. The introduction of Cisse in January showed Ashley was willing to back Pardew financially and the club rightfully challenged for fourth place.
In the summer though, Ashley did not seem to back his manager financially and there was a lack of action in the transfer market. The signing of Vurnon Anita was the only one that could affect the first team. The club was on the precipice of being able to challenge teams like Spurs consistently but needed more strength in depth to do so. With European Football, after their position last season, did Newcastle miss the opportunity to bring in some quality players? The lack of depth in the squad has been emphasized by the loss of Taylor and Cabaye, with no real quality replacements, the team are losing very winnable games. When you take into account fixtures against Man United, Man City and Arsenal are on the horizon it is even more worrying.
Pardew received a huge boost after his exploits last season when he was awarded an eight year contract at the club. The Newcastle board are trying to emulate the model of Arsenal or Man United by offering the manager un-rivalled security so he can get on with doing his job. It has to be questioned had Pardew earned this show of faith from the board? Wenger and Ferguson have earned the right to be all but infallible in their position at their clubs. Each can say they have changed the fortunes of their perspective clubs through winning titles and positioning their clubs at the top of the English game. Neither of these managers was told in their 3rd year that they would be in the same position in 8 years. To say complacency has set in 1 year into Pardew’s mammoth contract would most likely be off the mark but the contract given to him showed the Newcastle board are doing the right thing trying to emulate those at the top of the game, but executed it in the wrong way.
The necessary next steps must include grinding out results, starting tonight with Wigan. This is a tough but winnable game. No longer can Pardew rely on his new signings surprising the opposition with performances above their transfer tag, he now needs to show the Newcastle fans why the board entrusted him with their club for the foreseeable future and then the board need in turn to back him in January financially.
So what do we think guys, are Newcastle going to turn this around? Or are we looking at a repeat of 2008-09 when we thought they were too good to go down? Please comment below.
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This article was first posted on December 3, 2012