The transfer window is seen as an essential part of any club’s season. It is the time of year where managers are able to tinker with their squads, bring in a marquee signing to excite the fans, or unearth a gem or two to surprise the league. Over the past number of years Newcastle United have done all of the above with varying degrees of success, and under the stewardship of Mike Ashley, the mantra is certainly “buy young, buy cheap”. There is little wrong with this approach, especially when you look at the first team squad that was assembled when he first bought the club; the likes of Geremi, Viduka, Owen and Martins were all on big wages, without big on-field contributions, so Ashley’s approach ever since has been to get young, relatively unknown players on the continent as opposed to English players whose prices are usually twice, or even three times their market value, as was the case with our very own Andy Carroll.

Due to this different approach in the transfer market we have seen a great number of players come into our club for knock-down prices, yet deliver great on field performances. The likes of Cabaye, Tiote, Sissoko, M’biwa, Santon and Ben Arfa, to name a few, have all but doubled their market values (at least) since signing with the Toon yet I am filled with a sense of trepidation and frustration when I peel back the layers and objectively assess the situation that I see develop before me at Newcastle United.

There can be no doubt that we have a top class scouting system at the club under the direction of Chief Scout Graham Carr. There can be no doubt that we have a very frugal (sometimes too frugal) owner who will no longer see us made fools of at the negotiation table when it comes to transfers, and this system has procured some fine talent that could have warranted twice what we paid for them. So far so good.

So we’ve diligently scouted these players, we’ve negotiated hard to sign them and finally we see them smiling with the scarf in the air, beaming from ear to ear as they stand proudly on the hallowed turf of St James’ Park. There is only one added ingredient necessary to make all this a match made in heaven – get them on the field playing football – and it is here where the system falls flat on its proverbial bottom – Pardew’s selection and tactics.

Vurnon Anita is a wonderful example to illustrate my point. Here is a player who quite clearly has superb technical ability, a fine range of passing, and is versatile enough to even play full back, yet he only started 17 games in the Premier League (8 as a sub). However, if we compare this stat with Jonas Gutierrez who is a hard working player and will always give 100%, it is a shame that his 100% still only provides headless forays down the wing where he will either lose the ball or throw himself to the floor. It is not his fault, he is simply incapable of passing or shooting with any proficiency. How many starts did this sub-standard player make last season? He started 29 times (5 times as a sub). Some may argue that Jonas played primarily as a winger, and while that is true, I would argue that he was also picked ahead of Anita to play in the middle of the park, as well as at full-back, despite not being natural in either position, something that Anita is.

As aforementioned, not only is Pardew’s selection an issue, so too is his tactics. The decision to play Sissoko in the “No 10” role, or as the second striker is absolutely baffling, especially considering how monstrous he was playing in a deeper midfield role in his first few games, most notably in our first away win of the season to Aston Villa and our wonderful home win against Chelsea. Could Pardew not have played Marveaux in “No 10” and play Sissoko deeper? Or have I missed something?

I don’t wish to be the harbinger of doom, or try to rain on the parade of any potentially top class signings we may make, as we have signed top players in the past few years, but I would like to remind readers that Pardew managed to finish 16th with one of the best squads we have had in recent years. Who knows, with the addition of a top class striker playing second fiddle to Ameobi, and a pacey winger sitting on the bench waiting to wipe Jonas’ boots, perhaps we’ll reach the heady heights of mid-table…

As the old saying goes, you cannot make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, but it seems that Pardew is successfully making a pig’s ear out of a silk purse.

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  1. toonfan

    That is the major reason for our concerns. Pardew's tactical ability is rubbish. Many bloggers on various forums have expressed the same sort of concerns. We could possibly sign some more top class players, but the team will still not function properly as Pardew does not know how to achieve that. A change of manager is still the priority. Kinnear's appointment has in itself been highly dubious to say the least, and what is just as bad is that Ashley may be confident in letting the man take the reigns. We were heading downhill rapidly under him before, I dont think it would be any different thie time if it happens

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