Are things really as different to last season as they seem?

Too much chopping and changing?
Well somehow, by hook or crook, we actually managed to beat West Bromwich Albion, the bogiest of bogie teams as far as we are concerned.

In my match report I made a reasonably big deal of the fact that even though we managed to win we still played badly. A sign of a good team some might say, but it’s been going on for a while now and eventually our performances will need to be upped.

You see that is what is missing really – performance. Results haven’t been too bad although of course they could always be better. We’ve lost just two league games, away at Chelsea and at home to Manchester United, and those type of games are “write off” games as far as I’m concerned anyway. They are the kind of games where personally expect nothing so if we manage to get a result it’s a rather nice bonus.

However I must remember that this is a performance issue and not a results issue.

If you cast your minds back to the start of last season you will find our performances weren’t exactly sparkling either, yet we ground out results in an unspectacular fashion. The difference should be that we should have improved from last term, with essentially what is the same personnel.



So what is the difference? Tactics? Formation? Perhaps both of those have some bearing on things, but we did still spend time playing 4-4-2 last term, it wasn’t simply 4-3-3 all the way. Training? Maybe. Europe? Perhaps…

The team that played last season tended to feature in most games. I remember people saying how our starting lineup was predictable, how it was the same team week in week out with little or no competition for places. This season is different. Granted competition is still thin on the ground in certain areas of the side, but there is also the fact that it’s not often the same team of players gets to play together.

The main reason for that being Europe. We have played one team in the league with another team pretty much featuring in European games. The continuity and fluidity isn’t there as the team is being chopped and changed. Training must be harder also with Alan Pardew having to split his time preparing one team for one game to the detriment of the other team that plays in a few days.

Just my thoughts anyway. What do you think?

About toonsy

A lifelong Newcastle fan and current webmaster of this very 'blog who has the sole aim of creating a place by Newcastle United fans, for Newcastle United fans.

56 thoughts on “Are things really as different to last season as they seem?

  1. I think it’s a little of all of the above, tactics(at times), players not performing as they can, lack of consistency, picking the wrong option etc etc….we’ll get there in the end tho, hopefully! :mrgreen:

      (Quote)

  2. Toonsy – I think you’ve dead right. Very little difference to last season. We start 4-4-2 last season and looked equally frustrating!.
    As I’ve said all day on the previous article, it’s a formation that requires natural wide players.
    If you look at Spurs for example with Bale and Lennon or Swansea with Dyer and Routledge.
    When we play 4-4-2 it tends to play with Jonas and Benny wide – neither natural wingers.
    4-4-2 leaves us disjoined and seems to seriously restrict our best players – some of the best attacking players in the league I might add.

    I think it’s primarily down to formation. Pardew needs to understand that at the moment, he doesn’t have the players in his squad to play 4-4-2. Once you get your best players in their preferred position you play better and have a better chance of winning games comfortably.

    I think Pardew needs to go with 2 players for each position and then clear out the rest!. We have too many CM players in our squad and it limits Pardews options.

      (Quote)

  3. The only players who have been consistent this season so far are Ba, Colo, Ben Arfa (mostly), and possibly Santon. Tiote is out of control or injured, Cisse has been completely out of form, Cabaye looks disinterested a lot of the time, Jonas looks to have lost a step or 2, Obertan looks hopeless in the league, Shola is up and down but not consistent and we have a few borderline players like Simpson, Willo, and Perch who would be much better off in the Championship. Too thin at a number of positions to play this many games. We won’t spend enough to be competitive in either the league or Europe. I can see us finishing around 8th or 9th in the league and being knocked out of the next round of the Europa league when we meet the better sides. Sorry to be pessimistic but that’s how it looks to me. 😥

      (Quote)

  4. Maybe pardew should try this formation………………………………………………..

    ……………………………………………Krul…………………………………………………….

    ………………………..Williamson…..Taylor…..Colochini……………………………….

    ……..Simpson…………………………Perch…………………………………Santon…….

    ……………………….Ben arfa………Cabeye……..Sammy Ameobi………………….

    ………………………………………….Ba or Cisse……………………………………………

    When we go 4-4-2 we get overran in midfield and are unable to offer a supply to the strikers. when we go 4-3-3 We get over we are generally get caught out at the back.

    why not go with three centre halfs and tell them to stay put (corners apart) Use santon and simpson as wingbacks as they are both good defending and attacking. Drop Jonas who doesn’t really do anything going forward these days Put Perch (or Tiote when fit) in front of the the three centre halfs as a holding player then let Ben Arfa, Cabeye and Sammy Ameobi (who is looking good lately Offer Proper support and supply to Ba or Cisse?

      (Quote)

  5. Toonsy I agree with most of that but while we weren’t super skillful last season we just seemed to work harder than we are this season as lot’s of games this season half the players seem to not turn up. and some look as if they are not really interested and in a way they don’t really look happy 😕

      (Quote)

  6. No, things aren’t that different to be honest. The main difference is fan expectations really. We went from a team who to begin with some predicted to struggle near the bottom of the league because of the lack of a proven goalscorer to a team which now is expected by some to better what we did last year-i.e challenge for a champions league spot.

    Pardew has gone from being praised by bringing the best out of “championship players” like Raylor, Perch, Shola, Simmo, Willo and Bestie to being criticised for not being able to replicate the unebleiveable form we showed at the back end of last year.

    We’re under more media scrutiny and expectation and we never seem to be perform well there, as a club it seems rooted to us.

    I honestly don’t think our results have been that bad, but with the way some have gone on you’d think we were playing worse than Sunderland 😆

      (Quote)

  7. DAVE my thoughts are a bit like yours,i thought the couple games in that a few players had thoughts of a move that didnt happen had got to them and their heeds were not right,but i still dont see any improvement sadly,take ba,colo,and santon krul out and they have been very poor imo

      (Quote)

  8. Ice some on here try to dress it up but for me half the team don’t look that interested and arn’t putting the full shift in.
    I can remember last season how most people were commenting on how we didn’t play brill footie but we were gritty and hard working and never gave up, and it’s easy to look back to some of last years threads to confirm that

      (Quote)

  9. Toon x3 – Man City are pissing about with that 3 CBs carry on with terrible effect. Kompany has went for the best CB in the league last season to looking clueless in most games.

    I would like Pardew to show a little ruthlessness this season. I’d expect the likes of Ranger and Xisco to leave anyway, but I would like him to get shot of the likes of Gosling, Marv, Oba, Vuckic, and Abied if they do not show signs of offering anything to our squad.
    Get rid and bring in new players that add quality and different options to the team.

      (Quote)

  10. Good article.

    Not sure if we worked harder to start last season (can’t really remember) but it seems like we were just barely getting by with timely goals from Ba…just like now. We didn’t really hit our stride consistently from a performance stand point until the final third of the season IMO, especially during the win streak.

    I don’t think its all down to tactics at the moment mind, but when we outplayed clubs late in the season it was with a 4-3-3 with Ba on the left and Ben Arfa on the right for the most part.

      (Quote)

  11. Don’t know why the back up players are getting stick 😕 They’re actually doing us proud atm in Europa.
    It’s people like Cisse/Cabaye/Saylor (maybe harsh)/Tiote that need to pull their finger out.
    Also it’s an interesting theory that’s been mentioned, we’ve all heard of players struggling with juggling Europe with the league, but could it also affect managers?
    I personally think there’s something in it. Lots of the squad, Carver etc spoke about how thorough Pards was with match preparation last year. Even though we didn’t always attack fluidly, we usually looked very solid defensively (aside from our mental collapses in the hammerings), was it joint second most clean sheets in the league? Could just be that Pardew is struggling to organise training with 2 games a week.

      (Quote)

  12. Solano-Agree with both your points, the main person to disappoint me this season has been Cabaye in all honesty. People are saying a lot of the squad is underperforming, but for me it’s only a very few (although there were a fair few off their game yesterday)

    I agree about the Europa league too, it’s Pardiola’s first time in Europe isn’t it? I know he got to a cup final with WHam but did that get him into Europe? I can’t really remember. I certainly think it has an effect on match preparation anyway.

      (Quote)

  13. We haven’t looked great this year, but its tough to complain much. We’re 4 points out of 4th in the league, have taken 7 points from a possible 9 in Europe, managed to start bringing a few quality youngsters through, all while surviving a good number of injuries.

      (Quote)

  14. Sharpy17

    Man city are still doing a lot better than us using 3 centre backs (I never really rated Kompany that much anyway, one good season!) Colo is a better centre half by a mile) its how you use them that matters. Man cities are not staying put which they must do if you use wing backs!! At the moment our best defenders get pulled out of position too much covering the attacking fullbacks when the ball inevitably comes back becasuse we don’t offer enough support up front.

    The more you attack and keep the ball upfront the less you concede.

      (Quote)

  15. A little extra training on movement wouldn’t go a miss either. No-one instead of everyone moves when we get the ball at the moment.

      (Quote)

  16. I don’t agree with playing 3 CBs. We only have 3, if we play them all there’s no rotation and a higher chance of injury for all of them. 4 at the back standard got me.

      (Quote)

  17. Solano makes a great point.

    Last season we seemed so much more tactically prepared for every game. This year we have been caught cold a couple of times already. Is preparing for two games in a week proving difficult? Is Pardew just less worried about the opposition and more concerned with getting the best out of our squad of players? Who knows, but either way, something is definitely lacking this season compared to last. We just seem that little bit less resilient.

    Anyway, I’m still happy with out current points total and will take an 8th or higher finish + good Europa run.

      (Quote)

  18. The kid-Yeah, I think it’s certainly having an effect-still, we have to realise that the europa league isn’t every week and we’ve still been poor in almost every match, bar Sunderland really. so it isn’t entirely about cutting up preparation.

    I’m also pretty happy with where we are now in both the pl and the el and hopefully when everything clicks we can start racking up some wins..

      (Quote)

  19. The Kid, There was an interview with pards on the radio at the start of the season and he made a point of saying that last season they would have a week to prepare tacticly for the league games .He said it was a concern for the coming season that they had less time with the added European games to factor in. 😉 Put a couple of injuries and a few heads being turned with the talk of big money moves into the equation and it’s no surprise the strain is starting to show .I also feel that a couple of players are miffed at the lack of signings ,Cabaye will almost certainly be hacked off after pubicly backing Debuchy to come in.That’s just my opinion of course.

      (Quote)

  20. Kimtoon

    Got a feeling Debuchy will arrive in January.

    Also, this Sissoko guy will probably confirm he is going to join us around the same time. The Sun seem certain we have tied him up and it seems legit to me. The fact the club have come out so quickly to deny it also speaks volumes. We clearly don’t want to be seen to be tapping players up before they are allowed to speak to other clubs(January)

    Sissoko will probably be Tiote’s replacement, which I am fine with. The £15million or so we get for the Ivorian can go towards strengthening the squad.

      (Quote)

  21. If we replace Tiote with Sissoko we will also be copying the likes of Man United, Arsenal, Chelsea and many other European super clubs, who all seem to have rejected the idea of an out-and-out holding player for a defensively strong box-to-box player instead.

      (Quote)

  22. I think a large part of it is what Newkie touched on earlier.. Our expectations are much higher this season. We know what we are capable of and we are not seeing at the moment. Last season, it was more of a “let’s see how we go” type of thing with so many new faces in the team. It doesn’t excuse the fact that there has been some poor football, it maybe just highlights it a little more. 😕

      (Quote)

  23. 15 games played, 6 wins 3 losses (2 to manure, 1 to chelski) 6 draws.

    It’s not a bad total so far considering previous injury troubles, just frustrating knowing that if some players were playing to their potential we could have been flying.

    Still, I’m putting money on us ending our Anfield curse next week…. 😯

      (Quote)

  24. Newkie, Liverpool will be tough but from what I have seen, they have had some real defensive lapses (it’s not just us that has them) So we may be good for some points 😯 😎

      (Quote)

  25. Solano’s Trumpet is definitely onto something with Europe affecting Pardew’s preparations. He’s used to a week of focusing on one upcoming team.
    Maybe for the next one, he should just focus on what we can do better: pass & move, play the ball out of defense, Ben Arfa farther forward, etc.

      (Quote)

  26. Aussie-I know, I really don’t have a clue how it will pan out and if Colo doesn’t have a good game Suarez could just destroy us-think Staylor needs to play in place of Willo or he’ll be nutmugged time and time again

    I just want to be positive, I want us to get 3 points, and I want to smash those fucking pikeys in their own back yard for once! 😈 😆

      (Quote)

  27. Yep Saylor has to play in this one.. We need his mobility… Suarez will be hard to contain as it is.. I would love to see someone (accidentally 😉 ) kick those feckin bucked teeth of his in. Can’t stand the man tbh 😈

      (Quote)

  28. Aye, Willo was handy to have last year because he knows Carroll better than any other PL defender and for the most part had him in his back pocket. Now Liverpool are about mobility, although they do have physical lads in their CBs, Tayls should be able to deal with them.

    And hopefully one of his flying elbows might do Suarez’s dentist a favour, only when we’re 3-0 up though incase he does get spotted 😆

      (Quote)

  29. You have to hand it to Saylor, it is a bit of a velvet sledge hammer… The amount of rough shit he gets away with is not funny. He always as nice as pie and has a smile on his face… There have been a few time where I reckon he has been lucky to stay on the park..

      (Quote)

  30. Lads, frankly I’m worried about the Liverpool game. They have been playing some good stuff for the last few games and Suarez is starting to get dangerous in front of goal. If we operate in the wrong way this weekend, we could get humped. We desperately need to get Ben Arfa playing higher up the pitch too. Best way to do that is to play the ball up to them on the ground. Enough of the damn hoof ball! 👿

      (Quote)

  31. Aussie I completely agree with you and said the same not too long ago. After the general outrage at Tiote and people labelling him dirty I’m interested to see the reaction of people when/if Tayls gets caught using his kung fu in a match and gets sent off for it. He’s done it all through his career and it’s no surprise many PL sides and fans dislike him.

    Andrew-I’ll stay positive for now, get edgy and nervous beforehand, become fickle throughout, and become negative afterwards 😀

      (Quote)

  32. Andrew, I agree in part mate, it is a worrying game but Liverpool really rely heavily on Suarez. He is key to most of the good stuff that happen for them on the park. We really need to shut him down to have any joy. As I said earlier, it will be a tough game for sure..

      (Quote)

  33. Yeah, Suarez is their main menace, but they also have lots of speed on the flanks. I wouldn’t mind seeing Colo man-mark Suarez and have Santon and Anita/Fergie playing fullback.

    It would also be nice to see Cabaye contribute for 90 minutes

      (Quote)

  34. And I don’t mean to be negative right now. We just really need to click for that game or we’ll be punished

      (Quote)

  35. Andrew-Nah I didn’t mean to say you were negative, I think you’ve got the right viewpoint and most toon fans will be wary/expecting a tough match, after all, it’s Liverpool at anfield and we never win there.

    Just got a funny feeling…and I agree with you, if Cabs had stepped up a few more times this season we may well have turned some draws into wins, thought his goal last week would have spurred him on but he never really got going today even though we weren’t that bad in the first half.

      (Quote)

  36. On the flip side, Liverpool will have a lot to worry about if our players fire up.. Ba is on form and Cisse scored a cracker on the weekend :mrgreen:

      (Quote)

  37. Form of certain players
    Muddled tactics/recruitment
    Opponent scouting
    Opponent recruitment and improvement

    re. Liverpool game – get ready to watch us chasing the ball for 90mins

      (Quote)

  38. I think the Cisse goal yesterday just might get Pardew ready to play Ba out on the left. I forget who said it, but they were spot on in saying that Ba usually plays down the left channel and comes back to spark attacks. Cisse can just roam around the center to clip in the chances.

    We shall see. I’d really really like to see Fergie and Sammy get runouts in that game too

      (Quote)

  39. Good article and good points, the thing that has stood out was toontoontoon’s point at 17 about lack of options for the man on the ball, we all seem to move away, which is why more balls are going astray. I don’t much like Rodgers but there is definitely something in working bloody hard to give the man on the ball options for a pass. Instead, we are hitting so many long balls. Pardew does keep talking about lack of time on the training ground, so hopefully at some time it will get worked on and will click – hopefully next sunday.

    Off topic- I do like Pardew’s honesty about games- refreshing. Did we deserve to win? Pardew: “No”.

    But, we did – happy days! Now for Liverpool.

      (Quote)

  40. Mi is right at 39. Be prepared for us having little of the ball against Liverpool, Cabaye putting in 12 Kilometers and kicking the ball 7 times…. 🙁

    However, posession doesn’t always mean points, and if our defense stands firm, we have Ba and Ben Arfa in the team, and they can score a goal from nothing.

    Fancy a 1-1 draw…

      (Quote)

  41. My opinion on performance is we need to keep the ball on the ground and the not in the air, I am tired of long balls…. are we Blackburn Rovers being managed by Sam Allardyce now? Also I am tired of the lack of passing that we have suddenly stopped doing compared to last season, there is no team moves it’s just “Give ball to Hatem and hope he makes some magic out of it”. On the other hand though we have to consider last season we were playing teams who had confidenced as so “Pfft…. it’s just Newcastle another 3 points for us they will get relegated anyways”, even the scum thought this! and then we turn up and give them a run for their money with a big shock, nowadays teams are obviously gonna be thinking twice when approaching us with ease of confidence so obviously teams are gonna perform better thus making us look like we’re under-performing but like you said “Good Teams win even when they’re having a bad game”.

      (Quote)

  42. I think its a misture of everything really. But I think teams are more prepared for us , think we were very much underestimated last season and I think teams wont do that to us again so that creates problems in itself. In regards to Liverpool , yeah they are going to have the lion share of possesion becasue this is the way Rodgers have them set up, but I think we can get a result. I felt last season we got beat at anfield becasue we were at anfield at it was the mighty Liverpool from the 80’s we were up against and we seemed scared shitless. Liverpool are there for the taking in my eyes we just need to up and give a good performance ( which have been thin on the ground ) and we will get a result

      (Quote)

  43. I see a lot of reason’s being put forward for why we haven’t been playing well, but none of them cover why atleast half the team haven’t put a shift in( bar 1 game) in each of our games.

      (Quote)

  44. We should not forget that we were “lucky” for the most part of the start of last season. I think it was around the 20th week that pundits actually took us seriously 🙂 . So the poor performances were not scrutinized as harshly as this season.. It also says that we were not playing fantastic football early last season. It will all click soon and we will be right to go…….I hope 🙂 🙂

      (Quote)

  45. Aussie have a look through some of last yrs post match threads and you’ll see that even if we didn’t play brill footie we all put a shift in and never gave up. This season we barely turn up.
    We need to stop sugar coating things and giving the players an excuse.

      (Quote)

  46. Big Dave, I posted the other day that last season we made things happen on the park and this season we are waiting for things to happen. So it pretty much sums up what you are saying. Without the effort and graft we will struggle. I’m like you and I don’t like half arsed efforts… full commitment or nothing as far as I’m concerned..

      (Quote)

  47. Further to my last post, I still believe that we are judging the team harder this season… maybe it’s a combo of both things..

      (Quote)

  48. Feckin shocked tbh 😆 …as I said it’s a combo of things and agree Dave the effort doesn’t seem to be there on some(not to the degree of last season anyway)…that said they do still keep going to the end as Sunday proved :mrgreen:

      (Quote)

  49. Truth is we all expected better this season than last. Last season it seemed almost miraculous that we were in the top 4 for so long. Most performances were poor and deeply defensive ones punctuated by Ba’s goals.

    I said it yesterday, the EL is disrupting our PL performances this year. There’s little time for Pardew to work with the first team. Add in the International breaks and injuries to Saylor, Colo, Krul (he may have saved all of Manu goals and one of Everton’s) Tiote and it’s no surprise we lack fluency. Cabaye is the perfect example. He’s gone from midfield lynchpin with most touches of the ball to somebody who’s chasing the game for 90 mins and looks lost. Nearly every team that plays EL suffers for it.

      (Quote)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Question   Razz  Sad   Evil  Exclaim  Smile  Redface  Biggrin  Surprised  Eek   Confused   Cool  LOL   Mad   Twisted  Rolleyes   Wink  Idea  Arrow  Neutral  Cry   Mr. Green