Plus Ca Change
It’s a year tomorrow since Alan Pardew was given permission to talk to Crystal Palace about their vacant managerial post, effectively ending his time in charge here at Newcastle United. It’s been a year of turmoil and talk, protest and pledges. When he left Newcastle had lost 3 of their last 4 following on from a 5-game winning streak which had propelled them to the temporary heights of 5th in late November, and which it was evidently considered was enough to keep them up for another year. Following his departure they appointed a placeholder, someone to keep things ticking over to the summer in the understanding their safety had already been achieved. That decision came very close to being catastrophic but in the end they did indeed stay up, albeit after some desperate panicked scrabbling for points and unrest in the stands. Mike Ashley went on TV before the last game of the season to tell us all everything had changed; he had, the club had, their direction and ambitions had.
Now we stand roughly at the half-way point of this brave new dawn, and not so much has actually changed. Yes, money was spent in the summer. But it was an attempt to head off a credible possibility of large-scale season-ticket cancellations by the disaffected masses rather than evidence of new priorities. It also followed to the letter the previous transfer blueprint, of buying young potential which can be sold on at a profit. The experience and character the team so desperately needed were nowhere to be seen. Our new manager talked of playing an expansive possession-based game then influenced by awful results decided our roster left us with no option but to sit back and try to hit teams on the break. If this is an attempt to change how the club operates it’s an attempt to do it by acting in exactly the same way as we always have.
Kick in the Teeth
Losing to Everton on Boxing Day with virtually the last unintentional effort at goal of the game was a disappointment, and a tad unlucky after weathering the storm of their attacking superiority. Newcastle missed a fair few chances which if any had been converted could well have resulted in them winning the game. Should we take the close nature of our defeat as reason for optimism, a sign of improvement? Unfortunately it’s on the finest of lines that success and failure are decided and right now we are on the wrong side of it. Improved performances if that is what they are will lead us only one way if dropped points continue as their consequence. If we have improved, then it’s not by enough.
2/10 See Me
An end-of-term report on Steve McClaren would be harsh without question right now. He’s failed in changing the team’s style. He’s failed to change the team’s losing mentality. He’s failed to integrate new signings effectively. Most importantly he’s failed to alter our results or league position. He’s stated that the plan he’s working to involves 3 transfer windows, each with similar spending. His problem after the start he’s had will be getting Mike Ashley to give him another half-yearly £50m to blow in the transfer market.