Newcastle: Carver's Mental But We Could Be On For A Good Run
When Alan Pardew initiated his “vicious and horrifying attack” on David Meyler nearly two weeks ago, the football world lost its collective minds over the incident. Pundits queued up to vilify the Newcastle manager for his actions with one floppy haired idiot stating that Pardew’s position was “untenable” without, I suspect, actually knowing what “untenable” means. Others gasped and recoiled in shock, as is now the standard response to any incident deemed worthy of excitement in the Soccer Saturday studio. Scores of adult men groaning and caterwauling like injured animals at the sight of a slightly late tackle. It’s pathetic. I’m still convinced Jeff Stelling had actually stubbed his toe and the timing was purely coincidence.
Two weeks later and Pardew has been fined £160k (£100k by NUFC), charged and sentenced to death by firing squad (3 game stadium ban, 4 game touchline ban) by The FA, leaving Newcastle United in somewhat of a pickle for the forthcoming 7 games. The 4-1 win away from home versus a Hull side in decent form was completely overshadowed due to the managers idiocy and Newcastle now have a run of games of varying difficulty to play without their manager. Pardew has stated that John Carver, his assistant, will take up his place on the touchline for the forthcoming games. Oh well that’s fine, what could possibly go wrong? Carver, a notorious firebrand, with a short temper and a keen eye for a ruck, will be under constant scrutiny by the media during his spell holding the reigns. His behaviour will have to be absolutely faultless.
Some elements of the Newcastle support will welcome a break from Pardew’s leadership. His relationship with the fans has, at times this season, been strained and uneasy and the voices of discontent have begun to grow due to what some perceive as tactical ineptitude and an inability to finish off teams when in promising positions. To Pardew’s credit, he’s overseen excellent wins against Chelsea, Manchester United (not looking quite so impressive now) and Tottenham, but three straight defeats against Sunderland will always put the pressure on a manager of Newcastle United.
Newcastle must now face 7 games without their silver haired predator of the technical area against Fulham, Crystal Palace, Everton, Southampton, Manchester United, Stoke City and Swansea. At first glance that looks like a decent little run but on closer inspection it would be foolish to start getting excited about improving much on the current points tally. The first game Newcastle will face is arguably the most attractive of the run, coming up against a stuttering Fulham, seemingly in a spiral and heading for The Championship with only a Penfold lookalike called Felix to help stop the rot. Palace have been buoyed by good form recently and will fancy their chances coming to St James Park on March 22nd while Everton and Southampton, both having good seasons and looking to finish strongly will provide much sterner tests. Everton in particular have played some fabulous football at times this season and look strong contenders for a European place under Martinez. Man Utd will be desperate to consolidate what, by their lofty standards has been a poor season and will also look to avenge the 1-0 defeat at the hands of Pardew at Old Trafford in December. The games against Stoke City and Swansea provide a glimmer of hope with points, you’d imagine, up for grabs in both encounters. If Newcastle can keep key players fit and stop Carver from pulling out a pool cue on the touchline they should realistically be targeting 11 points from a possible 21 on offer, pushing the Magpies on to a total of 54 points with 3 games to play. That should be enough for a finish in the top 10 and lovely big bonuses of Slazenger tracksuits and Lonsdale trainers for the staff of Sports Direct FC, sorry, Newcastle United.
Will Pardew learn from this spell away from the dugout? Can Newcastle manage without him? Will John Carver throttle an opposing physio for looking at his jacket a bit funny? Only time will tell, but one thing is for sure, following Newcastle United is never boring.
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