Enough is enough at Newcastle

Posted by Marc Duffy

If Alan Pardew stays in charge of Newcastle United for the remaining three games of the season then the club could well be playing Championship football next season.

After a week of more excuses and finger pointing from the Newcastle manager, Pardew seemed to wave the white flag even before Saturday's game with Liverpool kicked off by lining up with a ridiculously negative team selection, offering the visitors, minus their main attacking threat, the chance to take the game to the home side, who were desperate for a result.

The 6-0 win for an average Liverpool side, Newcastle's heaviest loss at home for 88 years, made a mockery of Pardew, his team, his excuses and his managerial capabilities.

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The result should be enough to see off a manager who has a pathetic Premier League win ratio of 24% since signing an almighty eight year contract seven months ago. Newcastle have scored only 37 goals in the 29 Premier League games since then, whilst conceding 60.

It won't be though - after all it was his close friend Mike Ashley who handed him the eight year contract in the first place. To fire him now would reflect badly on Ashley and therefore won't happen.

The first question anyone asks when fans of a football club demand the sacking of a manager is: "So who would you bring in?" In this case, Ashley and Derek Llambias would find it almost impossible to unearth someone who could make the situation worse (Erm... remember Joe Kinnear - Ed). Pardew has somehow managed to guide a team full of international footballers to only four points from their past six games. And even more worryingly, 16 goals have been conceded in that time with a just three scored in reply. Thank goodness for the last minute winner against Fulham or the picture would be even more worrying.

Saturday's tactical masterclass from Pardew included starting with two holding midfielders at home, for a game where points were desperately needed. Not only that, but the midfield player who should have been in an advanced position, Yohan Cabaye, spent the little time he was actively involved playing behind those two. On the plus side, this is one of the first defeats this season in which Newcastle's current captain hasn't pulled up injured after his team had fallen behind.

Moussa Sissoko, Newcastle's powerhouse French International central midfielder played as a right-sided midfielder. That is crazy in itself, never mind when you consider that it meant he was directly up against the most powerful full-back in the league, Newcastle old boy Jose Enrique. The Spaniard completely dominated the out-of-position Sissoko, therefore nullifying one of Newcastle's most potent threats. Why? Perhaps Pardew's 1988 coaching manual told him that number 7's play on the right? It's the most plausible reason I can think of.

I've spent quite a lot of time this past week debating with some Newcastle fans and journalists about whether Newcastle are a 'long ball team'. This game should answer any doubts on that front - in fact, the first passage of play in the game was a back pass to Rob Elliot who launched the ball aimlessly to the right. Why oh why would you take a team of ball players - five French internationals played - and try to make them play like Stoke City? If the club is to be functional and are to endure another seven years of Pardew then perhaps Llambias should relocate chief scout Graham Carr to watch games in the Championship and League One instead of France and Holland.

Liverpool were two up inside of 20 minutes. A team with nothing to play for were first to every tackle and showed a determination you would expect from their opposition; a team with everything to play for. Newcastle United's players are not playing for their manager.

James Perch, another bizarre Newcastle supporter cult hero, missed a great chance with a header as the first half dragged on but Newcastle rarely posed a threat.

By the way - absolute kudos to the man who spins the half time records in the ground - at half time he played Eric Clapton as Pardew and his players ran out onto the park for the second half: "Before you accuse me, take a look at yourself"

Over 1.1 million through the gates at St James' Park this season yet Pardew has pointed a finger at the fans more than once as well as the players' weekly call for 'support'. If the players matched the fans, Newcastle United would be playing Champions League football next season.

Pardew bowed to the fans wishes at half time when he brought on Hatem Ben Arfa as well as Yoan Gouffran. This proved to be footballing suicide. Starting in such a manner may have put Liverpool on the back foot but chasing a two goal deficit Newcastle were more reckless and Liverpool scored four more goals.

Mattieu Debuchy was sent off for a ridiculous, petulant tackle as Newcastle capitulated yet again. The game ended with the ground down to about 20,000 of the 52,000 fans who started there - those left in the stadium sarcastically cheered each completed pass and offered loud, sarcastic applause when Papiss Cisse fired a rare shot at goal.

It was a grim afternoon, one of the worst I can ever remember, and if things don't change then Newcastle might well be heading to Doncaster next season.

They need a win from either West Ham away, QPR away or Arsenal at home on the last game of the season. I can't imagine the Magpies winning any of the three unless there is a major change at the top.

I hope I am proven wrong.

Twitter: @MarcSDuffy

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