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Yes, Newcastle United’s Alan Pardew again

After the 5-0 thrashing at White Hart Lane, Tiote and Cabaye returned to the starting lineup and Ryan Taylor regained his starting berth after a two-week hiatus. Many would expect Newcastle to show their character against Wolves, who recently had McCarthy sacked, and also conceded 5 goals in their last league match. It was yet a rather one-sided first half again as The Magpies found themselves 2-0 up in just 18 minutes.

Yet the second half was a complete turn of fortune as Matt Jarvis pulled one back, with a bit of luck, just 5 minutes after the restart as Newcastle struggled to find the tempo. 10 minutes later Wolves won a free kick 30-35 yards out on their right side in which it also won them a point. Williamson was not able to clear the free kick and Kevin Doyle was the first to react after a bit of pinball-ing to score the leveler.

It was however his manager to take most of the blame. I certainly believe I am not the only one to be in awe to see him bring on substitutions DURING a set-piece defense.

It was tactically disastrous to 1) disturb the concentration of his team to defend a set-piece and 2) remove a tall player (Cisse) and defender (Taylor) and bring in a shorter (Ben Arfa) and attacking-minded player (Guthrie) to defend a set-piece into your own box. It was just past the hour mark and, unless it’s injury-related, Cisse and Taylor’s coming-off could well wait after the set-piece.

Further, he brought on Ameobi for Tiote in the 81st minute as his team could not rediscover their first-half form, except for moments of individual brilliance from Ben Arfa. It was again quite a dubious decision to take off a holding midfielder (instead of Cabaye since Guthrie more or less is a similar type of player) when clearly Pardew wanted to turn to direct football, again assuming it’s not injury-related. Definitely the visitors would have felt they took more from the draw.

The Tyne-Wear Derby was the following fixture and it was Ameobi the Mackem Slayer with his injury time goal, also his 7th against Sunderland, which made amends to a missed Ba penalty to earn his side a point after a first-half Bendtner penalty. However many felt Newcastle could have won it. Sunderland had their in-form trequartista Sessegnon sent off at the 58th minute for elbowing Tiote but it took Pardew nearly 15 minutes to send on Ameobi for Cisse.

With a man down, everyone would expect the Wyneside team to give up attack and focus on defending deep. And everyone should know there will be no better time to exploit the man-up advantage to win a historic derby fixture in front of your home fans to lift the morale of the team after picking up 1 point from the last two games. Yet Pardew needed 12 minutes to make his substitution which indeed was a striker-for-striker substitution – Ameobi for Cisse and Newcastle was still on a 442 against a defensive 441. Lovenkrands, a sneaky and quick forward was left on the bench until the 89th minute whereas his agility and movement may have carved opened the packed Sunderland defense much earlier.

Pardew could have gone more aggressive (as he showed he could by fielding a 442 against Spurs away) by taking off a central defender for an extra striker or bring on Perch and liberate Danny Simpson and switch to a 352 which could well contain the visitors isolated lone striker. He did indeed revert back to a 442 from a 451 when he was only LEVELLED with wolves but he remained conservative against a 10-men Sunderland losing 1-0. A lapse in concentration, perhaps the only once,  in injury time allowed Ameobi to score from close range but many may have thought until that very moment Sunderland may have done enough to fend off the Magpies and take away all 3 points. Yes Magpies fans may be euphoric to have drawn level at the last minute (who wouldn’t?), especially denying your greatest rival a win on home soil but would you have thought another manager could have brought you even more delight in the same situation?

Perhaps having learned his lesson against Arsenal’s rival, Pardew reverted to a 4411 formation visiting Emirates Stadium, knowing it would be vital not to lose the midfield battle. Ben Arfa gave them a dream start with a precise near-post shot, only to see Arsenal leveling less than a minute later. The match then was dominated by the Gunners and they would only have themselves to blame for not burying the match before needing a 95th minute goal to see off the Magpies.

If you are a Newcastle fans, didn’t watch the match, you won’t be too disappointed by the scoreline.

But if you did watch, will you be puzzled by Pardew’s decisions once again?

He sent on Ameobi for Obertan just past the hour mark, putting Ben Arfa to the right wing. That was by no means a defensive approach and was actually good news for Arsenal as Ben Arfa was never known for tracking down his opposite winger in defense; Gosling perhaps would had made more sense if Pardew wanted to settle for a point. Tiote, whose magnificent volley sealed a 4-4 come back last season, was surprisingly hauled off again at the 81st minute (again assuming it’s not injury-related) for Guthrie. And did James Perch do any better than Santon in stopping Walcott? I bet not.

A poor execution of a free throw up in the Arsenal half near the byline at the 94th minute contributed to a textbook counter attack by the Gunners. Instead of wasting time at the corner flag, Newcastle opted to get the ball inside Arsenal’s box and then they just couldn’t get back in time to defend the last move of the game.

It remains unknown up to this moment whether it was Pardew’s decision to go on attacking in the 94th minute. If it was, he is definitely over-aggressive, given that his team was constantly under Arsenal’s threat – especially Theo Walcott – and if it was not, then Pardew might have not been able to exert his authority on his on-field players. Either way it does not look good for him.

A mix of contrasting second halves, wrong timing and questionable tactics have cost Newcastle quite an amount of points lately and once again it may prove again that Pardew is not the man to lead Newcastle to Europe.

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