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Newcastle United – What Went Wrong For The Magpies This Season ?

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The question on most fans’ lips this season is ‘what has happened to Newcastle United?’ The Magpies, who finished last season in an impressive 5th position, have struggled to keep their progress going. This has left the club sitting just outside the relegation zone and way off their target of another Europa League place.

Perhaps the reason lies mostly at the door of Alan Pardew. The Englishman joined Newcastle in 2010 after his somewhat unjust sacking at Southampton and the appointment of Pardew was initially met with moans and groans from the Geordie faithful. Evidence of this was shown in a Sky Sports poll where out of 40,000 voters; Pardew only received a mere 5.5% of the votes.

However, a fantastic season in 2011/12 saw fans warm to their London born manager, a feeling which was matched by club chairman Mike Ashley. Ashley was so impressed with the work of Pardew that he offered him an incredible 8 and a half year deal; a decision which was met with subsequent shock by most of the football world. The decision to give Pardew a new contract was arguably the correct one but it was the length of the contract which left most stunned due to it being very rare for managers to stay in the same job for a long period of time in the modern day game. Those that doubted the length of the contract have perhaps been proven right, because of a poor first half of the season for the Toon, a first half which has seen them only win three of their last seventeen games.

As well as the poor league form, Newcastle also bowed out of the FA Cup to Championship side Brighton, a feat which was matched the previous season by the side a division lower. Last season, Pardew pocketed both the Premier League manager of the season award and the LMA Manager of the Year award but since then it has been a downward slope. Could it perhaps be the eight year deal which has allowed the Newcastle manager to rest on his laurels due to him not being under the sort of pressure that he was at the start of his reign?

Demba Ba
Demba Ba

It must be noted that the departure of Demba Ba has been a massive blow for the club. The striker was the main goalscorer of the side but it was always going to be a problem because of the low 7.5 million pounds release clause in the Senegalese’s contract, a fee matched by Chelsea, whom he know plies his trade for. The departure of Ba has not been aided by the lack of form of fellow Senegalese striker Papiss Cisse. The forward joined the team from Freiberg in Germany last January and was an instant hit on Tyneside with goals coming from all over the park, including a stunner against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. But this season he has not been able to recreate the form of the last which has actually led him to being dropped to the bench for some games in favour of fan favourite Shola Ameobi.

In recent weeks things have got worse for Newcastle off the pitch with club captain Fabricio Coloccini requesting a transfer away from the club. The Argentine defender is reportedly homesick and is pushing for a move back to his native land. But Pardew has used his man management skills well and has managed to secure his captain until at least the end of the season, a time when they will review the position. The return to fitness of ex-captain Steven Taylor should relieve some of the pressure on the Newcastle defence.

Pardew has not been afraid to splash the cash in this January transfer window, but there is a distinct factor it seems to all of the signings. All of the signings this window have been French: Mathieu Debuchy has signed from Lille, Moussa Sissoko from Toulouse, Massaido Haidara has joined from AS Nancy and fellow defender Yanga-Mbiwa has been brought in from Montpellier. As well as this, French striker Yoann Goufrann has moved to St. James’ Park from Bordeaux. It is thought that Goufrann is the man to replace the departing Demba Ba and this signing has been met with optimism by the Newcastle faithful mainly due to the relatively low transfer fee (thought to be around £1.5 million). 

Newcastle United fan pay tribute to French players
Newcastle United fan pay tribute to French players

Arguably the most worrying thing for Newcastle fans to bear in mind is that at the same point as in the 08/09 season, their side managed just 23 points from 21 games and this season they have managed just 20 points from 21 games, three less than the season when the club were relegated to England’s second tier. The supporters will hope Pardew can turn it round as his sacking seems to be somewhat unrealistic due to the length of his contract and Pardew will hope he is given time to bed in his new French acquisitions before Mike Ashley is forced into making a massive decision.