Newcastle United : 16:16 Vision – Patience With Pardew Is The Fast-Track To Success

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“Relaxation is the key to preparation”. Brian Clough

Real Madrid. Bayern Munich. Barcelona. Borussia Dortmund. Galatasaray. Juventus. Paris St Germain. Malaga. Chelsea. Benfica. Basle. Fenerbahce. Rubin Kazan. Tottenham Hotspur. Lazio. The names of the other 15 clubs that were left standing alongside the proud name of Newcastle United in pursuit of the this year’s 2 European trophies a fortnight ago. Not bad company to be in.

St James' Park-Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

St James’ Park-Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

For the next four weeks, Alan Pardew remains the Double Manager of the Year before the torches are passed to their next incumbent(s): Swansea’s Michael Laudrup perhaps, or more predictably, Sir Alex Ferguson. A more pressing concern for Pardew right now is keeping Newcastle United in The Premier League in the next four games. While this is testimony to how much can change in a year of football, it also spells out the very fine line between success and failure, between being a Geordie hero and being a Geordie zero. Had Newcastle progressed past Benfica to The Europa League Semi-Finals and beaten local rivals Sunderland, it’s likely Pardew would be held right now in the North-East in even higher esteem than ever among the Tyneside faithful. Such are the fine margins in football.

It’s been a season of highs and lows for Newcastle. Starting brilliantly with a win against Spurs 2-1 when everyone was fit and fresh on the opening day, ending Bordeaux’s 17-game unbeaten streak with a sweeping 3-0 win, beating the Champions League Champions 3-2 and taking The Magpies back into and all over Europe. Truly the stuff that some clubs can only dream of yet mixed with highs have been painful lows – the crushing 3-0 reverse against Man United, poor home form with losses to Swansea, West Ham and Reading – and, most damaging of all, the 3-0 loss to Sunderland.

Throughout it all, Alan Pardew has remained steadfast, looking to the next game, the next transfer window, now the next season. Backed by an 8-year deal that allows him the confidence to plan long-term, to enjoy the relative stability and avoid the panic that may result from worry about facing the managerial axe. Only if Newcastle were to go down is that conceivable. They won’t.

Pardew has been at pains to point out the adverse effects of The Europa League all year. It is a competition that is a double-edged sword, offering at once the bragging rights and glory of continental football yet one that depletes squads, disrupts schedules and decimates domestic campaigns.

Newcastle found what Stoke and Fulham have learned in recent years, that two games a week and a heavy travelling schedule takes its toll.  A relentless schedule and the resultant problems of exhaustion and injuries meant Newcastle were unable to capture the sparkling Premier League form that saw them miss out on The Champions League by just 4 points in 2011/2. Now they hover just 3 points above the relegation zone.

The major difference? The Europa League.

There were many factors yet being a victim of their own success was the primary one. Players like Argentina’s Fabricio Coloccini, named in the 2011/2 Premier League Team of the Season, were suddenly recalled to international duty on the crest of a wave, if Premier League and Europa League games weren’t enough. Unsurprisingly, injuries, burn-out, suspensions, even personal problems followed for the 31 year-old. Likewise Yohan Cabaye whose lynchpin status for both club and country meant a scant summer break due to The Euros and an early loss of form due to fatigue-induced depression. He followed Coloccini, Cheick Tiote and Steven Taylor onto the long-term treatment table.

The Premier League remains an unforgiving place. Pardew has been criticised for using fatigue as an excuse after European games yet it’s a valid reason. The margin separating victory and defeat is so slight and the difference between groups of elite, highly-trained professional players so minimal that any advantage in days rested or extra training session can prove crucial. Newcastle undoubtedly benefitted from this last season, the ease of the Monday night Stoke 3-1 away comes to mind.

Steve Clarke complained of having only played 3 games in 35 days on Saturday, Newcastle haven’t had a chance to stop and catch their breath all year. Still, Pardew’s point against West Brom was in contrast to the 3-1 reverse an Andy Carroll-led Chris Hughton side suffered at The Hawthorns in 2010.

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1 Comment on "Newcastle United : 16:16 Vision – Patience With Pardew Is The Fast-Track To Success"

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  1. tomfin says:

    who wrote this article, pardew

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