9. Negative tactics
Reminiscing about some of Pardew’s tactical decisions sends a shiver down my spine. Who can forget the time he played Shola Ameobi on the wing? It made putting Papiss Cisse there look almost sensible. With talents such as Cabaye, Ben Arfa, Anita and Remy, his overreliance on an archaic long ball style has baffled many. Anita is 5’ 6” tall! He likes a turgid 4-4-2, with wingers acting as full-backs – even against weak opposition – and many players out of position. There’s rarely a Plan B and he leans far too much on the Ameobis and Mike Williamsons of this world. A recent love-in with fielding multiple left backs makes very little sense and his team against Swansea was particularly special: a 3-4-1-2 formation with Paul Dummett at centre back, Anita on one wing, Gouffran on the other with Luuk De Jong playing behind Cisse and Ameobi. Oh, Dan Gosling played too.
Counter-argument: It worked when Pardew got us 5th place and also in the first half of this season.
Once Premier League safety was secured in the 2011-12 season, Pardew tried a free-flowing 4-3-3 formation which worked beautifully. Newcastle went on a great run over Easter and the Ben Arfa-Ba-Cisse strike force scared numerous teams. One freak defeat to Wigan ended all that, with Pardew dwelling on one 4-0 loss rather than the previous six consecutive victories, only conceding once. That run got Newcastle 5th place, yet he abandoned it the next season, resulting in a fight against relegation. This season’s change in fortunes coincided with Yohan Cabaye’s departure, where the whole system was altered. After three and a half years at the club, there’s still no style or rhythm to his team, begging the question: what exactly does he do on the training ground?