Tonight, We Dine in Purgatory

It has been 600 days since Reading beat Newcastle United 2-1 at St James’ Park. By that point in the 2012/13 season Newcastle had already suffered home defeats to Manchester United, West Ham, Swansea, Manchester City and Everton. It was January.

For many it was a turning point, the conclusive proof that his time had come; the final straw. For me it was confirmation of all my previous concerns.

The manner in which the game was lost, and it was lost, as opposed to won, was a combination of many of the areas of management in which Pardew is severely flawed. Pardew would tell you, with a straight face, that he sets his teams out to attack. However, here he tried to defend a 1-0 half time lead at home to poor opposition, getting it spectacularly wrong in the process. He’ll tell you that he likes attacking players, yet he substituted the effective Marveaux for Perch; a move which made the team substantially less threatening and showed an alarming lack of foresight. He will also tell you that he’s a fan of Newcastle United, yet he blamed the rest of us for the result stating that the substitutions “brought a negative reaction that spread around.”

Cabaye had just returned from injury and likely wouldn’t see the game out. Common sense would suggest that the Frenchman should be the one to make way for Perch, rather than the industrious and fully-fit Marveaux. Marveaux won the free kick from which Newcastle took the lead in the first half, but by moving up the pitch he broke one of Alan’s first rules of football; stand by your fullback. As it turned out, Cabaye had to be substituted anyway after the midfielder reported pain in his recently ‘recovered’ groin. A woeful combination of decisions killed the side’s rhythm and ultimately set the tone for yet another appalling home defeat.

“You don’t know what you’re doing!” sang the home fans. They were right.

The game was an important milestone in Pardew’s Newcastle career, but it wasn’t a one-off. Had it been an isolated incident I wouldn’t be writing this article. At the time of writing, this is Newcastle’s competitive record since:

Played 56
Won 21
Drawn 9
Lost 27
F 63
A 91
Pts 71
PPG  1.27

Statistics tell you part of the story but that’s not all there is to it.

There’s no joy in watching Pardew’s Newcastle team. There’s no endeavour and no intention to threaten the opposing team in a cohesive way. You rarely see the team work their way up the pitch as a team, and when it does happen the impression is that football has all of a sudden ‘broken out’ through fortune rather than design.

The standard rebuttal is usually something like ‘it’s Ashley’s fault’ or ‘who else would we get’? Ashley is at fault, no question, but that shouldn’t mean Pardew gets a free pass. The clearest response to the second question is that we need someone who gets the team playing football, as opposed to telling them exactly where to stand and not to move forwards unless we win a corner. We need a manager who thinks football is to be enjoyed by those playing as well as by those watching, I don’t particularly mind who it is but I’m convinced we could attract someone who fits the bill, even with ‘this owner’.

Mathieu Debuchy recently revealed that he was frustrated during his time at the club because Pardew ‘told him to stay back’. That’s French international first choice right back Mathieu Debuchy. I’m not going to go into how utterly mismanaged Newcastle’s squad of players has been over the last four years, that’s a different article, suffice to say that failing to get the best out of Debuchy, by being negative rather than positive, is a microcosm of the way Pardew approaches football in general.

Keep it tight at all costs and hope the lad up front can score on his own. That’s it. That’s his thing. It’s ineffective and it’s incredibly boring to watch. Keegan once remarked that we go to the football to be entertained, the Geordie equivalent to visiting the theatre; for the past four years we’ve been waiting for Godot.

It’s Pardew’s negative approach that has brought about all the hideous results we’ve had to endure during his time here. Head to the Dark Days section for a sample of the awful results we’ve had to endure due to his management.

What’s the solution then? Well here’s an idea. We’re Newcastle United, odds are we’re not going to win anything any time soon, right? So why not employ someone who’ll have a go? I’m not your typical Geordie stereotype who would prefer losing 4-3 to winning 1-0, in fact I don’t really believe those people exist, but there’s a middle ground to be taken here. Going out to beat teams like Reading at home isn’t going to get us relegated.

Football, when it’s good, can be a beautiful, life-affirming game to watch. Watching a well constructed move can be a powerful experience no matter which team is in possession. The game isn’t about keeping it tight and hoping for some ‘magic’. Magic, that’s what he calls it, as if the ability to attack a team is some unfathomable voodoo. This is the way Pardew looks at the game, he’s reduced it to a turgid, boring, passionless thing. Wins, when they do come, are usually by a one goal margin and nail-bitingly close as we take the lead and immediately relinquish all momentum in favour of backs to the wall defending. That might be acceptable at Old Trafford but it’s not acceptable, or the right thing to do, every week.

There’s plenty of first hand information available which backs up the way Pardew sets out his team, I don’t need to discuss four days a week working on defending on the training ground or quotes from current players stating the aim is to ‘keep it tight and nick one’. Its all out there for you to find yourself, I suggest you do so.

Have a read and make your own mind up. But don’t let anything you read, including this article, dictate what you think about the way the team plays. Watch the football, the football Newcastle United are playing these days. Watch closely, and don’t under any circumstances let Alan Pardew tell you what Newcastle United are about, he’s a liar.

It’s time to sack Pardew. In fact, that time came 600 days ago.

  • Richard

    This was the game that did it for me as well. I remember that we could hav been 4 nil up at half time (without playing that well and with Shola on the wing) but within 5 minutez of the second half it was obvious we were trying to play the game out. How many timez do we take a lead, in the first half the spend the entire second half playing with 10 men behind the ball and end up losing anyway!

  • Laurent Robert 32

    Another outstanding piece and identical to my own views. Once again, well done for putting this site together. I was at the game too and Marveaux was possibly the best player that day, yet he was substituted simply because we were in front.

    Do you wonder why the lad’s motivation dropped after treatment like that?

    Mismanaging of players is a common occurrence and not only that, they are scapegoated too. Marveaux, Cisse, Ben Arfa , and the youngsters after going out in the cup.

    This conman needs to be removed as soon as possible to prevent further damage being inflicted.

    That needs to be shown at every game.

  • ToonTang

    PardWHO out…

  • Joe Hawkins

    Sterling work by the team who set up this site because you should be commended on your efforts to expose the biggest fraudster in Professional Football!
    I would call upon the team to do an article on the final game of his first half season after Chris Hughton’s sacking.

    The game was against West Brom May 22nd 2011 where a 3 goal lead was thrown away and a hat-trick scored by Somen tchoyi.
    This was due to his ridiculous substitutions and if i’m right he actually cost us a few league places by his incompetence!

    • Jordan

      I remember that game had a bet on Steven Taylor 1st goal and 3-1. All going well then Pardew brought Alan smith on.

  • nutmag

    Bet we don’t see a “Keep Pardew” site anytime soon!

  • James Harrison

    I’ve heard rumours that Pardew was told to throw this match to stop the players getting their bonuses for finishing in the top half. I find that a little far fetched as the players would also need to be in on it and there were a lot of teams who could finish in the top half of the table. Nevertheless, the substitutions were a sign of what was to come.

    Personally the game I lost faith with him was the second Brighton match. He sent out 7 reserve team players (many of whom were making their debuts) along with 4 players with champions league experience. With the greatest respect to Brighton, we should have at least been able to give them a game.

    That season we had watched him switch from the successful formation of 4-3-3 that worked so well in the previous season at Swansea and West Brom for example to long balls. I had been willing to accept the long balls were due to the physical nature of the PL. However against Brighton he had the chance to test the reserves and a game plan against weaker opposition.

    However the halfway line freekicks were still being used. Who was taking them? Vurnon Anita – a graduate of Ajax’s academy. This was the moment I realised it was Pardew making the calls. There is no way on this planet an Ajax graduate thinks hoofing free kicks into the penalty area is a decent way to play football.

    After the match, Pardew came out and said whilst he applauded the young players effort, some of them weren’t good enough for the club. He sent them out like lambs to the slaughter then almost destroyed their careers before they had even started. What’s even stranger is that of the players who played that day, only Ranger and Tavernier have moved on.

    The tactics that day have been the same every game since. What is obvious is that Pardew gambles on everything on his striker and if he isn’t scoring from the long balls, he has no plan B. Why play 4-2-3-1 if we’re a long ball team? Play 4-4-2 like we did against Man U (3-0).