After a long, hard summer of discontent at Newcastle United FC, the powers that be in the North East are under pressure from their dedicated fans to deliver. A transfer window that promised much after new director of football Joe Kinnear’s words of “wisdom” fizzled out, with Alan Pardew now firmly in the fans’ firing line.
Newcastle fans are quite rightly disappointed with the club’s lean business in the transfer window, with Loïc Rémy the only addition on loan from QPR. After a lukewarm start to the new campaign, the supporters are making their disdain for the current state of affairs known.
Pardew spoke to reassure fans yesterday, reminding them of the quality in the Newcastle ranks and asking for him, and his team, to be judged after the next eight Premier League games.
“We haven’t got the finances of a big team and, therefore, it makes it difficult and a lot of the time people cling to bad news when there is a lot of good news,” the manager said.
“The fans’ reaction has been the kind of reaction we have here, which is extreme. We have extreme reactions to our football club. It’s so personal here.
“But when the fans see how we play over the next eight games – providing we keep everybody fit – I think they will feel a lot better than they did on transfer deadline day.”
Pardew’s comments have potentially made a rod for his own back, as Newcastle fans will be sure to come back to him with those infamous words in eight games time if things are not looking rosy.
Of the next eight games that Newcastle will play in the Premier League, there is an argument to suggest that they will only go into one of them as favourites – a home clash with Hull next weekend.
Five of the eight are away from home, starting with a tricky trip to Birmingham to take on a much-improved Aston Villa side tomorrow. Away games against Everton, Cardiff and Tottenham will be trying, while the Geordies also travel to the Stadium of Light for the Tyne-Wear derby at the end of October.
Two months of fixtures that no-one could call easy. If Newcastle get ten points from those eight games it would not be a bad return. Anything more is excellent. Anything less and Pardew will be under extreme duress.
Realistically, the expectations at the club have failed to come back to earth after their overachievement in 2011-12, where Pardew led the side to fifth place. A mid-table finish would be a fair result for Newcastle this season, with a top-half berth a success.
Pardew is correct that he has a strong team at his disposal; the problem is a lack of strength in depth. The likes of Tim Krul, Fabricio Coloccini, Hatem Ben Arfa and Yohan Cabaye are as good as most in their positions in England, and the rest of the starting XI are certainly not out of their depth.
The problem that Pardew will have is when he has to call on inexperienced or untested players if the club picks up a couple of injuries, as is natural in football. If you take two or three first-team stars out and replace them with the fringe players, Newcastle’s team starts to look very ordinary.
There is no doubt that Newcastle have enough quality in their ranks to stay clear of the relegation mire, but realistically not enough to challenge for the top eight. Kinnear must pick up as much of the accountability for the lack of transfer action as Pardew, with the manager doing the best he can to stay positive. It is this lack of action that results in the lack of viable back-up options for the coach to pick.
In Pardew’s press conference he did get one thing spot on though: “It’s not an easy job.”