We are now seven games into the new football league season and we’re still unbeaten which has come as a surprise to a lot of fans.
Many expected a poor start when the fixtures were announced and we had the away Derby, Arsenal and Villa in the first 5 league games. But with 9 points from the first 5 games, with two victories and three draws we’re lying in 4th place.
We’ve also played 5 out of our first 7 games away from home which makes the fact that we’re still unbeaten an even greater feat. Granted we’ve only played against Scunthorpe and Nottingham Forest, but we’ve not played our best side, and still pulled out victories, albeit after extra time.
I know some will say that he didn’t get us that striker, but really that’s not his job. He suggests players and then the board then have to sort him out. The fact the board didn’t follow up their end of the bargain isn’t really Pardew’s fault.
I believe that Pardew side of the job is just to manage the players on the pitch, and on the training ground, and he’s certainly doing that well.
Pardew has got his tactics wrong a couple of times this season, the games that have stuck in memory are the away game against Sunderland where in the first half we really struggled to keep hold of the ball, but after half time we were much improved.
Also the away game against QPR was another poor decision by Pardew to play 4-4-2 against the four in the middle for QPR. In the second half Pardew changed the formation and brought on Sylvain Marveaux, who made a three in midfield which stifled the creative flair of QPR’s Adel Taarabt who was previously running the show, a tactical change which managed to nick us a point.
Something else which Alan Pardew is very good at is putting his confidence in his players. Since his arrival there have been huge turnarounds for both Steven Taylor and Leon Best who were frozen out by Chris Hughton. Recently Pardew has emphasised the importance of Hatem Ben Arfa to the team, and hopefully he can bring out the best of him.
I have to say that Alan Pardew has surprised me since he arrived at NUFC, he wasn’t my first choice, but he wasn’t my last either. I certainly think he’s an improvement on our previous manager Chris Hughton, which is hard to argue with in my opinion.
It may surprise you but Alan has managed Newcastle for 30 games to date. His record stands at 10 wins, 12 draws and 8 losses. That’s a very good record for the team he’s had to work with. A couple of these may be cup games, but to keep it simple if he sustained that record of 38 games we would finish the season on 53 points (rounded down from 53.2). That points tally would have been enough to get us 8th place last season, 1 point behind Everton in 7th, that’s something to think about.
Under Pardew we pick up 1.4 points per game, which is nothing to complain about. The most important thing for me is that we take points out of 73.3% of our games, which is a very good stat. Also a win percentage of 30% isn’t too bad either. Compared to some other managers it looks poor, but not many managers pick up points in as many games as Pardew, and lose less than they win, or lose less than they draw. Hopefully his record keeps on improving.
At the moment I’m like a lot of others and I’m just wondering how long this good start can be kept up. On paper it could go on for a while longer, but the game isn’t played on paper. Our next fixtures are…
Three of our next four games are at home, which is a positive for us as we’ll have the backing of at least 40,000 fans even if people are “voting with their feet”. Out of our next four games the only team who are better than us are Tottenham, the other 3 teams are on the same level. I’m not saying that we will remain unbeaten after those four games, but it is possible.
With Ben Arfa coming back and Santon reportedly beginning training after the Blackburn game we will be near to a full squad to choose from, so it could be exciting times again. But as a Newcastle fan, it’d be daft not to worry about the bump in the road, which hopefully we can avoid this season.
Time for Pardew to get some credit?