When Newcastle United last played a match 10 days ago, they suffered a predictable-yet-still-difficult-to-watch 4-0 loss at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur. While the scoreline was certainly a disappointment, it was the manner in which they lost that had fans up in arms before the final whistle sounded (not that they need much to be set off these days). The performances across the board, with one or two notable exceptions, were bland and uninspired, just as they were the previous two weeks.
There are so many ways to describe how poor this team has been recently that it's hard to know where to start. They haven't scored in over a month, which is another way of saying that they haven't scored since before Yohan Cabaye was even mentioned by the French press as a possible signing for Paris St-Germain. (Cabaye, for his part, has now scored in the Champions League, and yet people still have the gall to be vocally upset with him.) They have the second-worst goal differential (-10) over the last 6 matches, with only woeful Fulham lagging behind. The last two matches alone have seen the Toon go from +1 for the season to -6. Crosses, which haven't been a strong suit for Newcastle since Joey Barton left, are even worse than they have been (3/24 last week, 1/13 the week before, and 8/29 in the derby). And we wonder why Luuk de Jong isn't settling in. We haven't even mentioned the derby loss yet.
I read a lot of blogs that cover other teams, and fans in the comments sections often seem baffled by the Toon Army's insistence that Alan Pardew isn't the right man for the manager job at Newcastle United. They seem enamored by the job he did in 2011-12, when the team rode unbelievable scoring streaks from Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse to a fifth place finish, despite a lackluster +5 goal differential. Pardew certainly deserves some credit for some very famous victories achieved during that season, but it's become increasingly clear that this was a flash in the pan performance. Even defenders of Pardew (like myself) will concede that their argument has less to do with his actually ability as a manager and more to do with the circumstances surrounding the team. Our own Alan Hoffmann opined this week that no gaffer could reasonably be expected to succeed at a consistently high level under Mike Ashley's ownership.
It's an endlessly frustrating position to be in as a supporter. Newcastle fans know this feeling all too well. Unfortunately, they're not the only ones. The media know it, too, which is why they taunt us with things we can't have. Newcastle could have simply denied the report from John Richardson of The Sunday Express that Pardew's job was in jeopardy pending a poor result against Aston Villa, but instead they went full WWE. At a normal club not known for its circus atmosphere, this would be a case of protesting too much, but at Newcastle, it's business as usual.
In reality, Newcastle could lose by 3 or 4 goals Sunday and nothing would happen. Mike Ashley, though he doesn't directly speak to the media, has made it known loud and clear by his actions that he doesn't care about results. Three years ago, it made sense to sell Andy Carroll. Not only was the money absurd, but the expectations were significantly lowered. For a team fresh off of a season in the Championship, league survival is a fine (if depressing) goal. One would assume that by now sights would be set a bit higher. Apparently not. Yohan Cabaye is twice the player Andy Carroll was, and his selling price was almost half of the former #9 shirt's. Even with the team's bad form, they still sit clear of 10th place by 9 points. They're not in danger of relegation or European play, which results in #tiredbodies and, apparently, a season of worrying about the drop. This is Mike Ashley's sweet spot. No need to invest with incentive to sell everything except the team itself. This is officially the Lame Duck Era of Newcastle United.
Alan Pardew's job has never been safer.
- This Article Has Not Been Vetted by Mike Ashley
- Newcastle Twitter Responds to #AskDummett in Predictable, Hilarious Fashion
- Newcastle United's Performance Against Spurs As Candies From Monty Python's Crunchy Frog Skit
- So you want a managerial change
- Instant Reaction: Newcastle United 0 - 4 Tottenham Hotspur