Well it is safe to say that the heat on our silver supremo Alan Pardew has died down a little after the recent run of good form on the park.
Only the Gareth Bale show at White Hart Lane has put a dampener on our resurgence, which has seen us secure wins against Aston Villa, Chelsea, Metalist Kharkiv and Southampton.
Prior to the influx of fresh French talent in the January transfer window, we had a disillusioned set of players on the park and an impressive list of injured players on the treatment table. This certainly had a major impact our points tally and has seen us hovering way too close to the relegation places in the table.
During this time there was a lot of finger pointing going on amongst angry fans and a large portion of the blame was directed at Alan Pardew. This is understandable as he is ultimately the man in charge and is responsible for the team he puts out each week. After seemingly having the Midas touch last season, Pardew now seemed to be short on ideas and short on personnel. The gamble on youth had not paid off and many of the players that seemed ready to take the step up had failed to blossom.
Then there is topic of Pardew’s tactics!
Barely questioned last season, Pardew’s tactics this term have been called into question in nearly every game. His starting eleven, his substitutions, his set pieces, his team formations, you name it, all of these have been put under the proverbial microscope. There is a section of fans that subscribe to the fact that we got lucky last season on a number of occasions but the truth of the matter is that so do most teams if you want to see it that way.
Even his semi-famous man management skills seemed to be failing short of the mark and Pardew seemingly found it impossible to get his players fired up. All in all it was looking dire for Newcastle United going into the January transfer window.
To the clubs credit they addressed our defensive and attacking shortcomings with the signings of the Mathieu Debuchy, Moussa Sissoko, Massadio Haidara, Yoan Gouffran and Mapou Yanga-M’Biwa. These players have transformed our performances and have given the team a huge shot in the arm.
Now it seems that Pardew’s man management skills are back in full swing and his tactics are starting to bear fruit. If he was to take the blame for our poor performances then surely some credit must be granted to him when we are playing well and winning?
To me Pardew will never be a tactical master like Jose Mourinho or Sir Alex Ferguson. Pardew has sound tactics but his strength lies in getting good performances out of the players he has at hand. Sir Alex would have to be the master at this, he always gets the best out of his players and some would say the match officials as well.
We do have some prickly characters in our changing room and Pardew really seems to have them all pulling in the right direction. Hatem Ben Arfa was a notoriously difficult player to keep happy but he seems at ease under Pardew’s stewardship. James Perch and Ryan Taylor are two players that have developed well under Pardew and to his credit he does get good performance out of our “squad” players.
So where does this leave us?
I think that Pardew is sound tactically but his real strength is his management style. He really does seem to be in touch with his playing group and they seem to be happy enough. I guess a question that comes from all this is; if we had a tactically great manager with not so great man management skills, would we see good results on the park?
I am of the opinion that it doesn’t matter how good your tactics are if your players are not motivated to carry them out. But on the other hand, you can be the best motivator in the world but if you are short of a solid game plan you will also fail.
I think Pardew treads the line between the two quite nicely and we need to accept the fact that he will not be a master of both. On our budget, I really cannot see any other manager that could fill the breach and do what Pardew does. Sure there are better man managers and better tacticians but would they be able to keep the players happy and playing well?
Do we want a tactically brilliant football but potential chaos inside the confines of the changing room or do we want players working hard for each other and to a solid game plan?
What are your thoughts?
Aussie Magpie Fan