Newcastle United must end blame game and get the win

ASKED what he had learned about himself and his team in the aftermath of a trying week, Alan Pardew told the BBC on Saturday he had learned that two of the press men in the North East had “let him down”.

Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew
Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew

ASKED what he had learned about himself and his team in the aftermath of a trying week, Alan Pardew told the BBC on Saturday he had learned that two of the press men in the North East had "let him down".

It was there, on national TV, so there’s no hiding place. It was said.

Given the precarious nature of Newcastle’s Premier League status, it felt like a funny point to make.

Surely there are greater priorities for Pardew to be addressing in these critical weeks of a fractious campaign than press coverage?

Pardew’s issue is with the accuracy of claims, but did two newspaper reports published on the Tuesday really make a material difference to what happened on Saturday?

The easier connection to make would be Newcastle’s desperately worrying league position is more to do with deeper issues which remain unsolved, for there have been too many days when the team have been careless or poor over the domestic season.

Since the start of March they have been especially wasteful.

At Wigan they did not do enough – and that result was then followed with a 4-0 defeat at Manchester City which plumbed the depths.

The nine goals conceded against Sunderland and Liverpool at home have effectively wiped out Newcastle’s goal difference advantage over the fellow strugglers.

In all of these games Newcastle’s resolve and concentration came up short, so no wonder there was satisfaction in the camp that they earned a clean sheet and played with more diligence in the East End.

That is the minimum requirement for the next two games, though.

United have worked hard in the last five days to present a united front, as you would expect them to in testing times.

The performance of the team at West Ham was offered as a rebuttal of suggestions of problems behind-the-scenes – it was also provided as evidence of fighting spirit.

There is veracity in that claim. It was better than losing, and by stopping the rot Newcastle have not worsened their chances of surviving.

However, let’s strip away the veneer here and get down to the nitty- gritty of Newcastle’s season.

They need to do a whole lot more on Sunday if they are to keep their heads above water.

No excuses, no blaming the media or injuries – Pardew and his players needs to conjure up a win from somewhere.

There are no hiding places at Loftus Road.

All of the outside influences which have been cited as reasons for Newcastle’s struggles will not excuse a defeat (or even a draw) against a dreadfully divided QPR team which is visibly imploding.

One of their players went on Twitter to ask Joey Barton to swap clubs this week, which puts their deficiencies into stark focus.

A Newcastle team which had us all excited back in February has enough talent and enough ability to win it, but must not be handed the get-out clause of it being a tough week or United have a surplus of injuries.

They must get back to the philosophy they illustrated 12 months ago when travelling to the Hawthorns and Stamford Bridge – and have conviction in their own collective ability to cause problems.

In 2009 Newcastle’s relegation was a numbing experience. Mistake upon mistake was made and a group of players who did not live up to their reputations could not respond to the opportunities coming their way.

This time, the decline has been inexplicably sudden.

This is not a bad team made of poor professionals presided over by a rookie manager.

It is a good collection of players overseen by an experienced and very capable manager – so why is it going so badly awry? At times it has felt as if the club have not quite appreciated the stark reality of their predicament, especially when predictions are being made about where the team will finish in next year’s Premier League.

Newcastle gain nothing from deflection or denial.

They are in a dog-fight and only the kind of doggedness they haven’t shown since the derby can get them out of it.

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer