Pardew Has A Target On His Back!

Last updated : 24 April 2013 By Footy Mad - Editor


With four games to go in this campaign, Newcastle are a team who were expected to be pushing for European football but are embroiled in a relegation battle and Pardew is, for the first time in his two-and-a-half year tenure, under severe pressure.

There are two lessons here. Never believe what you read in your pre-season guides and never take anything for granted when it comes to Newcastle United.

Not since he was unveiled as an unpopular replacement for the extremely popular Chris Hughton back in December 2010, have Newcastle fans spent so much time debating the ability and suitability of Pardew as manager.

He may have signed an eight-year contract earlier this season, a decision designed to stress the club’s long term thinking and offer Pardew protection from the normal knee-jerk pressures of football management, but that does not make him untouchable.

Sympathy for Pardew is in increasingly short supply, as are acceptable excuses for a dismal season which may yet end in the disaster of relegation to the Championship and the destruction of all the economic progress made since the club returned to the top flight three years ago.

They maybe six points clear of third from bottom Wigan, but Roberto Martinez’s side have a game in hand and have a nasty habit of surprising complacent teams above them at this stage of the season.

When a team has won just once away from home in the league all season and has taken fewer points on the road than any other club with the exception of bottom-of-the-table Reading, it is easy to see why there is suddenly a loss of confidence on Tyneside.

Newcastle should still be able to scramble to safety and Pardew will be able to breathe a little easier, but he will still have been wounded by what has happened.

There has been criticism of the tactics. Pardew got rid of the 4-4-2 and 4-3-3 formations that brought them success last season and deployed a more fashionable 4-2-3-1.

The major problem is, it does not seem to work. Mainly because Papiss Cisse – their only fit specialist striker – is not comfortable as a lone frontman and Hatem Ben Arfa, the squad’s only natural No 10, has been injured.

But there are also issues with other players being used out of position, including central midfielder Moussa Sissoko, who has been asked to play in a more attacking role behind Cisse since arriving from Toulouse.

Pardew became the first Newcastle manager to lose at home to the enemy in 13 years, as the Paolo Di Canio's side secured their biggest win over their neighbours since 1979.

Derby defeats cause hysteria. Reason and understanding are two of the first casualties and Pardew, who had been largely spared criticism because of the goodwill generated by last season’s unexpected success, is now walking with a target on his back and everyone in this football-infatuated city is armed with an opinion.