Do you recall the statistic doing the rounds about Newcastle United’s reliance on Yohan Cabaye shortly after he departed St James’ Park for the money and prestige of Paris?
Well there is a new Frenchman whose presence is becoming talismanic for the Magpies this season: Loic Remy. While Cabaye’s appearances helped United to a 47% win ratio – it dipped to 21% when he wasn’t playing – Newcastle have enjoyed a soaring record of 54% when Remy is spearheading their attack.
Compare and contrast to this startling statistic: Newcastle haven’t won a single Premier League game without him in the team. The loss record is 80%, and what’s more they’ve not scored a single goal in any of the five league games he hasn’t played in.
The two at the start of the campaign when he was injured against Manchester City and West Ham were troubling; the sharp downturn in the scoring record when he was suspended for three games recently just illustrated the need for Remy to stay fit and firing for the rest of the season, if Newcastle are to remain active in the race for Europa League.
It is hardly a staggering revelation that Newcastle are over-reliant on Remy for goals but the sheer scale of their need for the France forward to play well is slightly startling. Which makes this weekend’s pleasing development – there were other items on the agenda despite Alan Pardew’s moment of bufoonery – up front all the more crucial to United’s continued prosperity.
At Hull there were signs that Luuk de Jong has started to develop into a genuine asset to the black-and-white cause.
The Holland striker has been on the sidelines in the Bundesliga and unsurprisingly, looked a touch ring rusty when he was thrust into a Newcastle team still exhibiting signs of shell-shock after the sale of the important Cabaye.
Against Sunderland in the Tyne-Wear derby, he looked hesitant. He wasn’t particularly at the races against Tottenham either.
But a week later, asked to perform a late cameo role against Aston Villa, he transformed the game to offer genuine reason for optimism.
What is more important, however, is that at last there are signs of a genuine striking partnership developing between the two on-loan men.
Newcastle have been without two strikers capable of dove-tailing effectively since the Andy Carroll era, but De Jong appears to have the sort of unselfish attitude that might just bring out the best in Remy, who was beginning to run into a few issues in front of goal before the January transfer window.
As with everything, though, Newcastle’s joy in seeing the burgeoning partnership between these two striker is tempered by the continuing uncertainty that surrounds Remy’s future. Another strike over the weekend might have added to the general feeling that the forward enjoys life on Tyneside – but it might also make life more difficult for Newcastle when they eventually get around the negotiating table, probably alongside Arsenal and Tottenham in a summer when Remy will get a World Cup showcase.
Those are problems for another day, unlike the latest furore that has surrounded Pardew after his foolish actions on the touchline at the KC Stadium.
It was poor, it did little to banish the notion of a man who acts recklessly on the sidelines at times and it further eroded Newcastle’s reputation in a season when they have contrived to create negative momentum even out of some fine results.
He will get what he deserves: a lengthy ban. Whether it will dent the resolve of owner Mike Ashley is another matter entirely.
The owner of Newcastle marches to the beat of his own drum and will care little for the Football Association’s disciplinary measures.
A man who has ridden more black and white firestorms during his time won’t feel too much sorrow at some bad publicity either – but Pardew will know that his room to demand things in the summer has diminished even further.
A relationship between owner and manager that appears idiosyncratic and even strained is hardly likely to have been repaired by the weekend’s unseemly events, even if the reaction to it now we have distance, does seem a shade overblown.