Four players in as many days to add to Mat Debuchy's arrival a couple of weeks ago is the injection of depth we were needing to add to our already quality team (it has to be said). We have had more than our fair share of injuries this season but we have still had a team available on most weeks more than capable to not be anywhere near two points off relegation at the end of the transfer window. Our team on the pitch has always had top class internationals more often than not. The difference now is we have the squad.
Albeit that squad is now looking more than a little French, in fact it looks like a new documentary series of 'A La Clairefontaine: Where Are They Now?' (YouTube). Whether this unique policy of only signing players from Ligue 1 (it seems) will turn out to be a success can only be answered in the future and specifically once we stay up. If we were to go down this season how many 'Frenchies' would actually stay? Certainly not 10 that's for sure. I don't have an issue with it all personally. At the end of the day we would not have signed Sissoko or Mbiwa most likely if we didn't have that heavy French influence at the club to attract them. So both factors feed each other.
The only issue I have about our squad at the moment is I am still adamant we need another striker. Gouffran looks a decent player but doesn't suggest to be a prolific goalscorer, and with Cisse's lack of form, one more front man would complete our squad. There are a few names linked to our club like Ricky van Wolfswinkel or Wilfried Bony but one that hasn't been heavily linked too much is that of Lyon front man Bafetimbi Gomis. Which is surprising when you look at his profile.
here, his immediate availability, the type of player we need, his interest in joining us seeing as he is French (too much assumption?) and the small cost it would take to bring him in. Then the 'risk vs reward' with this deal seems like a no brainer to me.
I do find it unlikely, probably impossible, that Graham Carr doesn't have some kind of an opinion on Gomis as he has been plying his trade in the Champions League for a few years now, as I am sure most of you will have seen at least now and again, as Lyon impressed in the competition throughout the recent past. So maybe we have already looked at him and crossed him off the list, so to suggest signing him now may be a case of barking up the wrong tree. However, I can't help but look at this possible transfer and justify why we would do such a thing.
Everything about him fits into the type of player we look for and hope to sign. He fits into our age range and his fee will be an absolute bargain with his contract almost expired so any sell-on fee would no doubt be a profit. He has proven quality, he will fit into this French revolution seamlessly and might just be the final piece of the jigsaw to move this club out of relegation trouble to then reach our true potential next season and beyond. When you consider we how much fully fledged international strikers cost these days we would be mad to not take up this opportunity.
As far as where his club Lyon are concerned they are looking to sell him in this window rather than lose him for free in the summer. Lyon's club chairman Jean-Michel Aulas has been quoted in L'Equipe magazine with the following, "Lyon do not want a player of such quality to become a free agent in 6 months. The objective is either to extend his contract or transfer him out." As far as Newcastle Utd are concerned we shouldn't want to miss out on a player of such quality by having him extend that contract by transferring him in right now. Get on the phone Llambias. You're in form.
In other news, it seems Laurent Blanc is set to become the new coach at Roma so my desire to have a top class French manager to go along with our top class French players seems doomed. Alain Pardeiu looks like to be in a job for a very long time which does seriously concern me especially with the influence of foreign players in our dressing room. Pardew has been reminded this week of his quotes in 2006 when he was West Ham manager about Arsene Wenger and his foreign legion at Arsenal by declaring his desire for teams to have mainly English players. AP seems like a classic British manager to me. His 4-4-2 hoofball strategy this season confirms it.
But never mind about that. We have new players. A new outlook. A new team almost. Just one more striker would see our squad have strength in depth with quality in each position across the board. In my eyes Bafetimbi Gomis fits the bill on every level. Will it happen? Who know's. We will all be watching come Deadline Day to hear Jim White (annoyingly) shout out those words 'Attention all Newcastle fans, some news just reaching us' and then David Craig fight off a bunch of mental Geordies behind him at St James' Park as he stares down the camera to inform us of what he has just found out...
Good old Deadline Day. Got to love it really.
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If you look at Reading's first choice XI not one of their players would have made it into our team on Saturday. Not one. So any excuses about players being missing or needing new signings to win games like this are complete nonsense and basically a kop out. All of which the press whole heartedly swallow up without hesitation avoiding any hint of a question about his team and his own obvious failings. I find it staggering.
The fact a lot of fans soak up this nonsense as well and then tell anyone who criticises Pardew or the team all about how we are where we are because of injuries is beyond annoying now. It's insufferable. Do us a favour please, if you are a sheep that excuses the club in whatever it says or does no matter how ridiculous or blatantly wrong than that is fine, but then don't try and tell the rest of us why we are wrong. Just keep singing. We need you to make noise in the stadium while others sit, watch and analyse what is actually going on with our team. All fans are different and we all play our roles.
What is blatantly obvious to anyone wishing to take the time or just use their eyes to see what might be possibly going wrong at Newcastle is the total lack of organisation at times at the back. The amount of times the opposition get in behind us via the full back areas is staggering. The then lack of positioning from certain centre backs once the cross comes in is just laughable to be honest. Amongst other shambolic failings. We cant even defend a long ball for crying out loud.
Davide Santon is a class footballer but he is no defender. That much is clear watching him this season. His lack of positioning at times is frightening. I reckon we have conceded more goals via our left hand side than any other. He just isn't a natural defender. We should be making moves to switch him into midfield and take over the role from the abysmal Jonas Gutierrez as the athletic work horse. All he wants to do his run with the ball so why fight it? Seeing as we are set to sign France U-21 left back Massaido Haidara the option is now finally open to us. Try it Pardew.
The other blatant problem lies in that useless, lanky, weak, slow, pathetic excuse of a defender in Mike Williamson. Where to begin with him? His talent is limited to say the least but that isn't the true problem. He is still the same player who helped the club achieve 12 clean sheets in the league last year. So what has happened? Last season we had a strong and organised back line which Willo sat in the middle of avoiding being exposed. When he was exposed at times then the Spurs, Fulham and Wigan debacles occurred. He needs protecting that much is obvious.
In fact the whole back line needs re-assessing. Where is the solidity from last season? Things like that can't just disappear. What does Alan Pardew do on the training ground now that was so different from our impressive season last time out? It's completely baffling. The first step of any team turning around poor form, or just in general, is to have a strong organised defence. Ours is yet to improve at any stage this year. In fact, it is getting worse!
Those goals conceded against Reading were abysmal. They summed up our defensive weakness this season so far. Their first goal came via Santon being out of position and no where near their right winger who easily ghosted past him and delivered an average ball into the box. Once he did it was down to a straight fight between Williamson and Le Fondre. Unbelievably Willo won! He nudged Le Fondre down to the floor and got in front of him to get to the ball first. The problem is he then missed it completely allowing Le Fondre to bundle the ball into the net (hint of handball). Just embarrassing.
The second goal was a catalogue of errors. We failed to block the cross in the right back area, we then failed to win the header in the left back area, we then weren't close enough to the oppositions players once the ball landed at their feet in the box, we then completely failed to close the ball down once it was mis-kicked and then offered no block of the shot that left Tim Krul helpless. Totally avoidable and amateur goal to concede. Simply not good enough at any level.
Our other major problem, specifically in home games, is an inexcusable lack of ambition going forward. First half against Reading was encouraging as we tested their keeper two or three times. Cisse should have at least put one of his opportunities away. However, after the half time break we did what we have consistently done this season and voided any ambition to go and seal the game by instead trying to suffocate the game and hang on. Now this comes from the manager. He has always had this type of mentality which he got away with for most of last season.
It was his decision to bring off an attacking player in Marveaux to bring on a defender come holding midfielder in James Perch with half an hour left to play. It was his decision to replace the injured Cabaye with another defensive midfielder in Gael Bigirimana even though the game was at 1-1 at that point. He had the option of bringing on Gab Obertan or even Sammy Ameobi for either player but chose not to. His confession of 'I made a mistake bringing off Marveaux' is not the issue. It's the fact he replaced him with a defender was the turning point of the game. Again, which seems completely missed by the press. What questions do they ask?!
We were in a position 2-1 down at home to Reading with not one creative player on the pitch. How is that possible? Where is the ambition to get another goal to kill the game off? Why was Obertan not brought on until the 80th minute? Why was Sammy not brought on at all? I wont even go into how Jonas Gutierrez got another 90 minutes under his belt even though he offers nothing in an attacking sense. Jonas is not a left winger any more. Wake the hell up Pardew.
Our biggest problem going forward is we don't get in behind teams enough with our wide players. Basically we don't do what the opposition do to us on a consistent basis which is attack the full back areas. We hardly created anything at Norwich and second half vs Reading we resorted to typically lumping the ball up to Shola. It's not good enough and it isn't exactly like we are incapable. We went to Old Trafford and The Emirates and scored 6 goals. Most of which were because we showed ambition in getting in behind them to provide a cross to be converted.
The Jonny Evans own goal and Cisse's left foot strike all came from crosses as well as Demba Ba's volley at The Emirates. But the most impressive goal for me was Marveaux's tap in at Arsenal as it showed what we are capable of if we have the balls to go and do it. It was so simple but effective as Obertan got in behind their right back and delivered a dangerous ball across the 6 yard box for the arriving Marv to tap in an open goal. Why cant we show this kind of ambition against teams like Norwich or Reading? This is why we aren't winning. Not because Ben Arfa is in the treatment room.
The reason we aren't doing it is because of the managers mentality in my eyes. He is so afraid of losing to teams like Norwich and Reading that he suffocates our players from playing their natural game. He insists on trying not to lose so much that he totally avoids the fact that we need to win. But when we go to Old Trafford and The Emirates he decides well we will probably lose anyway so lets just go for it. He needs to sort himself out and say to his players to go for it against the lower teams. If he did then we would win more than we lost.
The man's negative attitude has been slowly eating away at our football club ever since this season started. If it isn't moaning at the odd player being injured, it's the constant whining about the Europa League or it's the non stop message he tells everyone that our squad isn't good enough and we need more players. Just shut your face and get on with your job. This is the best squad he has ever had in his managerial career and ever will have once he is moved on. He should be grateful and ecstatic to work with such players not complaining.
Signing new players is a must for this football club to progress and match its full potential but in order to even get close to this than the basics need to be achieved first. An organised defence and ambition in attack is point one of any successful team. It really is that simple. The fact not many people seem to recognise it, which includes our highly paid manager, absolutely astounds me. You just need to look at the stats and our lack of impressive performances this year to see it. Can you name one impressive performance this season? Just one. With our squad? It's incredible.
Pardew's claims of 'we need new signings to inject some impetus' is just an example of how incapable at his job he really is. Did Chris Hughton need new signings to turn their season around? Did Nigel Adkins need new signings to reach the form they have shown before being sacked? Has Brian McDermott at Reading needed new signings to knock up the amount of points they have recently? No. None of them have. What they have done is worked effectively with the players they have (which are a lot less talented than ours) and got the best out of them on the training ground and out on the pitch where it counts. Basically they have done their job. Alan Pardew has done nothing of the kind.
All he does is moan about not having the players. All he does is claim we need new signings to turn things around. All he does is make excuses as to why our season has been an abomination while ignoring the actual truth. He has totally failed on every level as a manager this season. His lack of ability to turn things around is truly frightening. Just look at the fact that we are yet to turn around any deficit during a Premier League game into a win throughout his two years as manager if you doubt his non-existent 'bounce back ability'.
He couldn't turn around West Ham and got the sack for it. He couldn't turn around Charlton, got relegated, then got sacked for it. He is showing no signs of turning our season around as it gets more and more worse by the week. If we go 1-0 down in a game then we all KNOW we aren't going to win which is one of the most pathetic and depressing things I have ever known as a Newcastle fan in my life. Reading turned around a 2-0 scoreline in the final 10 minutes the other week. Why don't we have that kind of fight in us? Are our players not as talented as theirs?
Alan Pardew can bleat to the press all he likes but he needs to get on the training ground, with new signings or not, and get the team organised. Get the team confident in their own abilities. Get them brave enough to be ambitious in attack by getting men forward and testing the oppositions defence as much as we can. That is the only way we will get out of this pending relegation. If we don't then I can not see how we can possibly get out of it even with these new signings as great as it is to get them in. Adding new players to a flawed strategy won't have the impact we all want them to have.
Conceding soft goals and not being able to score enough is a recipe for inevitable failure. To not even have the strength of character to organise yourselves or the courage to go after a game and win it is completely unacceptable no matter what level you play at. If the level is Premier League with tens of millions of pounds at stake then you deserve to be shot...never mind sacked. Grow some balls and at least try and be a football team capable of winning a football game.
These new signings are welcomed with open arms and will no doubt strengthen our squad, but as a team on the pitch thus far, it's the other aspects you need other than talent that have been the main reason why we are in this plight. There is no shame in going out on the pitch fighting and going down, but there's no honour in not fighting at all. We did that in 2009 and I don't intend on witnessing such an abomination again.
Mr Pardew - You've got your new signings so now at least give us a fighting chance by getting the team organised to not lose games and show ambition to go out and win them. Merci.
Vive Le Toon!
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