Last week was a very bad one for Newcastle United. The transfer window closed with the
club having failed miserably to recruit into the positions where it has had massive priorities for 18 months and two years respectively, namely a goal-scorer and a central defender. We’ve needed a proven goalscorer at the club since Demba Ba activated his contract clause and moved to Stamford Bridge in January 2013. We might have needed a central defender longer than two years. It’s been clear Steven Taylor is the same player he was at 19 and hasn’t progressed. The ring-leader act hasn’t fooled anyone.
The goal-scoring burden now lies with Riviere, Cisse, Ayoze Perez and Ferreya. Three of that foursome are yet to score a goal in English football. Their pedigree is unconvincing. I can only believe that Riviere was adequately scouted. I don’t believe for one moment Graeme Carr has been watching Perez and Ferreya in Tenerife and the Ukraine on a regular basis. I don’t swallow that at all. Cisse is in the sick-bay with a broken knee-cap and only a vague reference to October for his return being spoken about. Pardew is bigging up a player the club has attempted to sell in the summer window of 2013 and the January window of 2014. Cisse is a player who has regressed under the coaching regime of Alan Pardew.
Personally, I have no issue with either going. I don’t think Mbwia was suited to English football and he agrees with me. I do think he can be a fine player in Serie A and may even perform well in the Champions League for Roma. I wish him well at the same time as questioning Graeme Carr’s status as the Obe Wan Kenowbi of football scouting. I still wince when I think of Mbwia being bullied out of that game at Everton by Lukaku last season. Painful to watch.
I’m genuinely sad about Hatem Ben Arfa. He is one of the greatest talents I’ve seen at United but due to a combination of Pardew’s inability to nurture and cajole his talent as well as the player’s own lack of commitment and professionalism he is now down the road at Hull. If he comes good there, then the poison spat at Pardew will reach new levels of intensity. I bear HBA no ill will, I think it will be tragic if he doesn’t exploit his God given talent, so for that reason I hope he does well at Hull.
It is right that we consider how our two greatest modern managers might have managed HBA’s talent. Certainly, KK adored talent and loved David Ginola’s ability. SBR did likewise with Robert and Bellamy.
Robson had a career marked by his ability to get the most from challenging personalities – Stoichkov, Romario, Ronaldo, Gascoigne etc. HBA might not have presented too much of a challenge to him.
Pardew, on the other hand is a pygmy compared to those two managerial giants. The best you can hope from this corned beef manager is getting the best from Mike Williamson, James Perch, Danny Simpson et al. Players like him – plodding, average, uninspired. He doesn’t understand talent. That is not to absolve HBA for his lack of commitment. Those who celebrate HBA as much to put the knife into Pardew as bemoan the absence of his talent ignore those games where he contributed absolutely nothing. His performance at the last derby disaster will live long in my memory for its sheer gutlessness.
But the big story is how that departure of that deadline duo wasnot replaced with new incoming talent. Pardew promised they would. By now my mantra – nothing Pardew ever says ever happens, is less the eye-spinning paranoia of a foaming mouthed fanzine head as simply a statement of painful, repetitive fact. Alan Pardew just cannot be trusted.
On Monday night, Lee Charnley and Alan Pardew had done something good for their boss, Mike Ashley, in reducing the salaries but something really bad for Newcastle United – leaving the squad really, really short. Both men work for Ashley, not Newcastle United. There is a clear, painful, suffocating difference. With no injuries, the squad was short.
With the news De Jong has torn a muscle and will be out for four months, the squad is all over the place. Cisse is already out, Janmaat limped off during the game with Palace and Colback missed an England call up because of injury. Not many of us won’t have clocked Tiote apparently hale and hearty playing for the Ivory Coast given he has been unavailable for pre-season friendlies and United selection so far this season. Many suspect lies from the club regarding his injury as United have attempted to sell him. We are preparing for the fourth PL game of the season away to Southampton and already there is talk of crisis and manager change. Pardew has completely lost the support. There is no rational argument to keep him other than woeful fears about who might replace him. Pardew is finished – unable to do the job, untrustworthy and loathed in equal measure. That is not a workable situation for any manager, even one who clings to his job in the PL knowing it will be his last. I fully expect United to lose convincingly at Southampton and I believe we have a back to the future event with Hull on the 20th of this month.
If Pardew sticks around after losing both those games, he threatens to become this season’s Steve Kean at Blackburn. I don’t think Pardew’s overweening vanity would allow him to be swallowed up and spat out by a venomous, hate-filled St James’ Park. Nothing Pardew has experienced in his career will prepare him for us at our worst.
I don’t even have the heart to crank up to a rant regarding Mike Ashley and the cancer he is upon our club. Only a fool would defend his position at United. Whether the lack of investment, yet again, will see a big crash grab from the club’s increased TV revenues by Ashley to lower the debt, remains to be seen.
Whether that will mark the beginning of the end for Ashley as he gets ready to sell up, we can only guess and there are convincing arguments for and against but both are rooted in speculation.
No-one knows Ashley’s next move. He is ahead of us all.
Is Rangers the next stop or is it an addition? No-one knows. We’ll only understand when it has happened. I hope and pray he goes sooner rather than later. There is only so much any of us can endure of this spirit-sapping, joyless, corporate defeatism.
We have the next issue of true faith (TF114) out for you tomorrow (8/Sep/14). As you might expect there is plenty to say about the place United is now in but we have so much more as well. We’ll have a separate column online detailing everything that’s in the thing but as you know, you can get signed up to true faith here.
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We are now well into the season and sign-ups for our FREE Saturday Special has gone through the roof. The Saturday Special is a fanzine within a fanzine and is finding its niche as the match-day (ish) reference point for those heading to games at SJP and all points south. It’s is entirely the work of true faith Deputy Editor, our young Mr Harrison and the unstoppable design genius Glenn Ashcroft. Its full of unique content – can be read on PCs, lap-tops, tablets, i-phones, smart-phones and smoke signals. Probably. All you need to do to get the essential Saturday doings, is sign up here.
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Please put a date in your diary. It’s the 20th of September 2014. 12 noon at the Mining Institute on Westgate Road, Newcastle Upon Tyne.
It’s just before the game with Hull City.
It’s a meeting put on by the Newcastle United Supporters Trust and it’s to explain the work being developed by the Trust about moving football up the political agenda and pressing for reform. At a time when political parties are developing their manifestoes and desperate for every vote ahead of the May 2015 General Election, we all, as supporters, have an opportunity to press our political representatives to ensure that is delivered.
Politicians all say they recognise the wider community and cultural importance of football and sport more widely, so its time we got ourselves into action and did all we can to make those parties work for us.
There will be several notable speakers including local MPs and United season-ticket holders Ian Mearns and Mary Glindon as well as Football Supporters Federation Chief Executive Kevin Miles and Kevin Rye from Supporters Direct.
The Trust will be making the case for Government intervention into a game described by Tory Sports Minister Hugh Robertson MP as the “worst governed sport in the country” and setting out what we can all do to improve the lot of supporters – from safe standing, affordable football, our legal rights, protecting the identity of clubs (strips and stadium names), increasing real representation and accountability of clubs and reconnecting football clubs with their real stakeholders.
We had a brief period of deluded optimism in the summer, which results and a shattering lack of ambition in the transfer market has completely shattered. Our mood is dark and I expect Pardew to be out before the month is finished.
Keep On, Keepin’ On …