Ok then. So where do you begin with this one. Actually, is it even worth going into? Does anyone even care any more? Because at the end of the day, we have still qualified for the knock out rounds. So let's start there shall we? Congratulations Mr Pardew and to the players for progressing from the group stage into the last 32. Also congratulations to Sylvain Marveaux scoring his first competitive goal in our colours. I suppose the other good thing was seeing the team start in the familiar 4-2-3-1 formation we have come to expect from European nights. With 'Benny in the hole' to boot. Which is encouraging.
Unfortunately the pat on the back time ends there. Thursday night was a glaring example of Newcastle United's failings this season. It pretty much summed up our season thus far and exposed the frighteningly weak characteristics this team seems to be made up of. You can sum things up with the following:
- One decent half. One terrible half.
- No killer instinct.
- Lack of winning mentality.
- Complete lack of confidence.
- Afraid of what the opposition might do.
- Injuries. More of them.
- Inability to pass the ball to each other.
- Lethargic. Almost uninterested.
- 'Lets hold onto what we have' policy.
- Wilfully encouraging the opposition to have a go at us.
- Injecting inferior opposition with confidence.
- Unexplainable starting line up. (Why was Ben Arfa on the pitch?)
- Baffling substitutions. (Why did Ba then get risked when Amalifitano is available?)
- Complete no-show from set pieces.
I could go on.
Before the game had even started I was left flabbergasted, again, by our manager's pre-match interview. He told ESPN this:
"It depends on the other game tonight about what we need. A draw might be enough for us to qualify. We will be keeping tabs on the other game"
What?! What in God's name are you going on about? Seeing as we were top of the group and facing the whipping boys at home, we should have been 100% focussed on winning the game. The whole group was in our hands, never mind just qualifying. The other game was insignificant to us. If then the news comes through that Bordeaux have lost to Brugges then that would give us the added bonus of winning the group with a game to spare. No? Am I talking nonsense here? Or is it our manager again? What kind of a manager is even remotely interested in other games when their team is in the box seat? Does Fergie care one bit about other results when his team are top of the league? Of course not. Why would he? Why would anybody? Is this the kind of nonsense that Pardew tells his players before a more than winnable game against massively weak opposition? 'We might only need the draw tonight lads, don't do anything stupid'. What kind of a mentality is that? It probably explains the total no-show from our team as an attacking threat in that second half. We're 1-0 up so let's just 'keep what we have'. Its pathetic. It's debilitating. Its completely unnecessary.
How many times did king waffler Chris Waddle say, "Maritimo have nothing in the final third. They haven't hurt Newcastle once."? How many time did he say that in the first half? 4? 5? It was true. Maritimo had nothing. They had the square root of zero as an attacking threat to us. So for us not to have won that game at a canter is a total disgrace. The players are to blame for this as much as anybody, but this kind of mentality has been born through our manager. We have seen this negative mentality from Pardew ever since he walked in the door. Last year he got away with it more often then not. The Wolves 2-2 draw was the only real glorified example to look at to show when this negative mentality comes back to bite you on the arse.
Our biggest win last season was by a 3 goal margin. Ironically, we put Man Utd to the sword with a 3-0 hammering. But we failed to even try to do it to the lesser teams when they were there for the taking. When Chris Hughton was in charge and we hammered Sunderland 5-1, if Pardew had been in charge for that game, you just know he would have shut up shop at half time. Keep the 3-0 lads and don't do anything stupid. He did this against West Brom at the end of that season and cost us 3 places in the table as they came back to draw 3-3 from being 3-0 down at half time. I find his lack of killer instinct and putting teams to the sword when they deserve it insufferably pathetic. I would expect that kind of crap from Fat Sam and look what happened to him as NUFC manager. Rightfully kicked out the door with his negativity with him.
My site is starting to look like a constant Pardew bashing session, which is not what I want to achieve. But why should his blatant failings be masked over because of the fear of sounding like a broken record? Why should he get away with this? Mike Ashley has developed the 'broken record' syndrome which is why nobody is allowed to criticise him anymore because people have heard it all before and it gets boring. Well I am bored. I am bored of bashing Pardew after every game we fail in. I want us to win. I want us to win our Europa League group. I don't want to be writing about how Pardew picked Ben Arfa against all logical reasoning and he inevitably picked up an injury that will see him out for 2 weeks. Just in case you missed what Pards said about Ben Arfa prior to the game vs Maritimo, than here it is:
"Hatem has been our best player this season. Most fans would agree. Maybe it's because he hasn't been playing midweek in the European games. Maybe having him fresh has helped him for the weekend"
When Chelsea sacked their manager this week I am sure you were all thankful of the lack of interest they showed in our manager. It must have been because he is on such a long contract. The strategy of tying our manager down to an irrational long term contract to stop others prizing him away, really does work doesn't it? Derek and Ash have been proven right on that one. Although in reality we all know Chelsea wouldn't in their right minds go after Pardew because they know as well as we do, Pardew is no-where near good enough for them. In fact, I dont even think bottom of the league QPR are remotely interested in our manager, even if he publicly declared himself interested. This 8 year contract is insane and looks more of a joke with every game that goes by. Some people say they're clauses in the contract in case of certain goals not met, well I guess we will find out at the end of this season won't we?
But thats enough Pardew bashing for one day. The team were awful in that second half. They can have no excuses. I don't care what instructions they were given at half time. Their total lack of even threatening to be a decent football team was frightening. Demba Ba looked completely uninterested. He hadn't even got himself ready to come on by the time he stepped onto the pitch. Tim Krul got beat with a shot he would normally keep out in a Premier League game. Thats two in a row in Europe now. Maybe it's best to stick with Elliot in goal for the Euro games, he seems more hungry for it. And maybe thats the answer. Our senior players just dont look hungry for the Europa league. When Obertan, Sammy and Ferguson have been given their chance to shine on a Thursday night, they have grabbed it with both hands. Obertan being missing last night and Fergie not even coming off the bench showed. I never thought I would say this but I would much have preferred Shola to have been available than Ba, as he wants to perform in Europe. Demba just looks like he would rather be watching it on the telly.
Our Euro campaign is now faltering like our league campaign. Brugge away and Maritimo were embarrassing on the whole. Trust me, Bordeaux are laughing right now. They can't believe their luck. I just hope when we reach the knock out rounds in the new year our football team has had a complete turnaround in performance, but even more importantly, mentality. The sheer mental weakness of the team from manager to players is very alarming. Pardew has managed to kill any optimism and momentum we had built up from last seasons campaign. That is some achievement considering how strong we were. Yes we have a few injuries, but that does not excuse the total defeatist attitude we have as a club right now. Souness tried that once. Much like Fat Sam I have already mentioned, look what happened to him.
Just think on Pards when you start saying things like, "I have looked at my board and we have 10 senior players out injured". Facts are that if Jonas and Cisse shake off their knocks for Sunday, then you will have 8 out of the recognised starting 11 players available. Coloccini's suspension adding to only the Cabaye and Ben Arfa's injuries. Be careful going down this road of using injuries as an excuse. The ghost of Souness still haunts our old training ground...
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