Whether he wanted to or not, Alan Pardew has put his ‘stamp’ on the Newcastle squad since taking over from Chris Hughton. Whether the details of the ‘stamp’ are Pardew’s doing or Ashley’s, the Newcastle manager has the task of evolving the team into a model different from the player power inspired one that kept us in the Premiership last season.
Carroll, Nolan, Barton and Smith represented a clique that the board was determined to dismantle. Their influence was seen to be too powerful, so it has been deemed necessary to ship them out. The player power created a strong team spirit that aided a technically limited squad. However, perhaps Carroll, Nolan and Barton overvalued their worth to the club and made demands that were too unreasonable for a club that wishes to run on a sound financial footing.
Pardew stated that he wished for Carroll, Nolan and Barton to stay at the club. Thus either signalling that his opinion does not count for much with the board or that he simply lied to the fans. Either way, the nucleus of the first team squad will bear little resemblance to the squad he inherited come September.
I think Pardew genuinely wished to keep the trio but he has been overridden by the powers that be. After years of overpaid mercenaries and then the relegation season this was the first Newcastle team since Bobby’s Champions League team that I had genuine affection for. Yes, they lacked creativity and guile but what they lacked they made up for with passion, spirit and determination. For the first time it felt like the players cared almost as much as the fans. In the big games the players delivered. With a few additions of genuine creativity, such as Ben Arfa, the club could have really progressed. Instead, we don’t really know where we are, how good are Cabaye and Marveaux?
The board are probably justified in their eventual decisions regarding Nolan and Barton but ultimately they mismanaged the whole situation. We should not be entering the new season with so many question marks surrounding the team. Again, the board have highlighted that they may be shrewd businessmen and may well be sorting out the club’s finances but they have little idea when it comes to managing a football club.
Pardew must now gel the remainder of his squad. He will need the new additions to acclimatise quickly and will also rely on some of the young players, such as Haris Vuckic, to make the step up. We head in to a new season with little idea of what to expect. If you offered me 17th now I would take it, and I would not have said that at the end of May.
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