Newcastle: Is Pardew One More Loss From Total Disaster?
Pressure is a strange feeling.
It can consume your every waking thought, plant seeds of doubt in an otherwise self confident facade, cause tension in relationships with colleagues and cause a loss focus on your work. I think it’s fair to say that Alan Pardew is under more pressure at the present moment than he has face at any time in his long career in football. In the opinion of a number of Newcastle United fans, Pardew is responsible for every ounce of that pressure he currently faces.
Pardew’s team travel to Southampton this weekend in the midst of media reports that the silver haired distributor of touch line head butts has only two games to save his job. Wether these reports are true or not depends wholly on how much Mike Ashley currently cares about the current form of NUFC. With Newcastle’s currently languorous streak stretching back to Christmas 2013, Pardew is running out of excuses and the trip to St Marys probably couldn’t come at a worse time.
Injury worries (De Jong, Aarons, Santon, Cisse, Good all currently out) and players departing on deadline day (Ben Arfa, Yanga Mbiwa) with no one coming in mean that Pardew’s options for the fixture aren’t exactly inspiring. The likelihood is that Gouffran will keep his place in the starting XI having done nothing to deserve it due to the injury to Aarons, the 18 year old who has provided the only creative attacking bite that Newcaslte have shown. This lack of goals in a team which signed 3 new strikers in the window is worrying and Pardew needs to get his team linking the play between the midfield and the forlorn looking figure of Manu Reviere. New signing, Remy Cabella, doesn't appear to have fully adapted to the physical nature and pace of the Premier League and Pardew will be looking to the diminutive Frenchman to provide some attacking edge in a currently blunt looking forward line.
Positives for Pardew lie in shape of the return of Cheick Tiote, who came through 90 minutes for the Ivory Coast in midweek and the continued form of Jack Colback, a player who looks at home at the base of a midfield 5 and who’s confident passing and strong tackling have endeared him to the St James’ Park faithful early in his Newcastle career.
Southampton had a torrid summer, selling a number of the names who helped them to a successful campaign in 13/14 to other Premier League clubs and losing the tactically astute and likeable manager who guided them. Bringing in a number of players, including former mag Fraser Forster and perpetual thorn in our side Shane Long, The Saints will hope they have replaced the quality they have lost. The capture of battering ram striker Graziano Pelle from Feyenoord has offered some quality up front and the thought of him bullying the fishnet defence of Newcastle doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence.
One thing is for sure, if Pardew’s team are beaten by Southampton the atmosphere at St James’ Park for the visit of Hatem Ben Arfa’s new club, Hull City, will be utterly toxic towards the second longest serving manager in the league.