Alan Pardewis not a name that would commonly be associated with the best managers in the League. Yet his team’s performance so far in the 2011/12 season have surprised all the pundits.
The Magpies unbeaten run in the Premiers League stretches back to May 7th, and they find themselves 3rd in the table after 10 games – only behind Manchester City and Manchester United. If they can find themselves a win against Everton on Saturday, Newcastle will be 2nd in the League – if only for 90 minutes, depending on the result of Manchester United v Sunderland.
Despite being written off as relegation candidates before the season even started, Pardew has managed to mould the team in to European contenders. Other teams are underestimating the Magpies at their peril.
The transformation of Newcastle United under Alan Pardew has been nothing short of surprising. The sales of key players: Andy Carroll, Joey Barton, Kevin Nolan, and Jose Enrique shocked the fans. There was unrest amongst the fans when the club failed to bring in a multi-million pound striker, but Pardew has quickly won the fans over and if the clubs form continues during the season, Newcastle may well find themselves back in Europe.
After being seen as the laughing stock of the Premiership for the past few seasons – relegation, expensive flops, multiple managers etc, Newcastle have been moulded in to a force to be reckoned with. Even more impressive is that it has been done on a budget.
When the summer transfer deadline passed, many at St. James’ Park were wondering where their money had gone. Andy Carroll was signed for a, then, Premier League record £35 million, and it was left too late to bring in a replacement. Newcastle managed to hang on to their top-flight status and finished a respectable 12th in their returning season.
The summer transfer window saw a French revolution of sorts; Yohan Cabaye has quickly been earmarked as one of the clubs most prolific signings after joining from Ligue 1 Champions Lille. Cabaye even said that he received an offer from Dubai-backed Anzhi Makhachkala in Russia, but was so keen to make the move to Tyneside.
Gabriel Obertan had struggled to become a regular feature at Manchester United and was handed his opportunity for first team football by Alan Pardew. The winger has shown that he has the quality to be a Premier League starter and is improving with every game. Sylvain Marveaux has demonstrated his ability in the Reserves and the teams Carling Cup run, and is knocking on the door for a chance at the first team.
A key aspect of Newcastle’s success so far this year is down to their defence. Alan Pardew’s main area of coaching is the defensive aspect, whereas his assistant John Carver is tasked with coaching the offensive players – an approach that, so far, has proven its worth.
The coaching team, as a whole, deserves praise, as the Reserve team sit at the top of their League after six games. It comes as no surprise that both the Seniors and the Reserves are in such impressive positions, and the fans have Pardew and his staff to thank.
What is most impressive is Newcastle’s current ability to ‘win ugly’. Games such as the fixture against Wigan a fortnight ago would not have been won a few seasons ago. The ability to ‘win ugly’ is a trait usually shared with the bigger names in the League, but for a team to put themselves in positions week after week where they can win games, especially after comebacks against Scunthorpe and Nottingham Forest in the Carling Cup is that bit special.
Alan Pardew’s first full season in charge of the club couldn’t have started any better. Although there was disappointment after being knocked out of the Carling Cup against Blackburn last week – the team’s first defeat all season – the manner in which the team followed up that defeat with is the most encouraging sign of all – especially with consecutive games against Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea coming up.
If Alan Pardew can keep up a high standard of football throughout the year, and bring in a couple of good signings in in January, we may find ourselves still knocking about the top of the table come the end of the year. The manager may have to clear some room on his mantelpiece.
Howay the lads!