Alan Pardew admits his selections are frustrating some big-name players, but the performances of his team have left them with little argument.
Hatem Ben Arfa, Papiss Cisse and Vurnon Anita have not started the last four games – all won – with the playmaker on the field for just seven minutes. Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa was harshly dropped for Saturday’s 2-1 win over West Bromwich Albion.
Pardew admits he has had players complaining to him but he has a simple answer for them.
He said: “I just give them examples of what they have done for the club.
“When you are in the position of having won four games I ask them, would you like to be left out? They accept that, but they are just frustrated and I have no problem with that.
“I’ve had it all my career. I’ve had it as a player as well when I’ve been in and out of the team so I know what it feels like.
That’s one of the beauties of playing the game. You do get an empathy with players when they are in this type of situation.
“When the first team are training and playing well, you might be doing well but you can’t get in the team.
“It has always been like that and the bigger the club, the more problems you get.
“It is a different set of problems from when you win to when you lose, but I’d rather be winning so they are the sort of problems I don’t mind.
“I don’t mind players knocking on my door and I’d take it as a real negative if they didn’t.”
The former midfielder admitted he was not always one to bite his lip when he felt hard done by during his playing career.
He added: “I went to see Steve Coppell a few times and also a couple of times with Alan Curbishley and Steve Gritt,.
“I had plenty of words and I wasn’t happy as I had been dropped by the manager. If you can’t get angry about that then you are never going to be angry. You can
knock on the door for different reasons.
“I think if I was a player in this situation you are knocking on the door to really say to the manager, ‘I’m okay and I’m ready to play’. That was really what I had today, but that’s what I expected today.
“I would have been very disappointed if some players had not been to see me and said ‘Gaffer, what about me?’”
Pardew has been pleased to see his fringe players keeping up the pressure. The competition even extended to yesterday’s 1-1 under-21 draw with Chelsea, where Paul Dummett, Sylvain Marveaux and Gabriel Obertan were selected as over-age players, to the disappointment of Jonas Guttierez and Steven Taylor.
Pardew said: “I’ve mentioned the obvious names but Sammy Ameobi has been brilliant in training and Obertan as well. They just have to be patient.”
Pardew acknowledged there is a risk attached to changing the team, something he will inevitably have to do during a December of six Premier League games, starting with tomorrow’s at Swansea City.
He added: “The relationships within the team are maybe sometimes more important than the manager realises.
“I have changed teams in the past without realising the relationship certain players had – a full-back and a winger for example – and how well they had worked together.”