Alan Pardew has faced, and failed, many challenges in his time as Newcastle United manager. Granted, he has not been helped by the incredulous ownership of Mike Ashley, but nor does he help himself. Strange formations, even stranger substitutions, an overly defensive ethos and a propensity to stick with out of form favourites have left many fans very frustrated with the Newcastle supremo.
In our last league game at home to Fulham, it seemed as if we were going through the motions once again. A 4-4-2 formation, while keeping Fulham’s midfield quiet, was utterly toothless in attack. It would have appeared that we were grinding slowly to an agonising 0-0 home draw against a mediocre mid table side – something we had done the previous week against a poor West Ham side.
However, something very strange happened indeed. Anita was replaced by Cabaye, Marveaux was replaced by Remy and Shola was replaced by Gouffran. The manager tinkered with the formation and played a front three, and suddenly we looked like a different animal. Things started to click. Gouffran and Remy were running the channels, Ben Arfa had a bit more space and energy, and within minutes we were a goal to the good. By the end we could, and should have won the game by 2 or even 3. For 15 minutes we were treated to something the Newcastle United crowd have not seen in a long time – decent football.
This Saturday Pardew faces a big challenge away to Aston Villa. Will he go with a 4-3-3 and the team that finished with a flourish against Fulham, or does he go with a 4-4-2, or even worse, the dreaded defensive 4-2-3-1 in order to keep it tight and not lose?
Choose wisely Alan. I am currently on the brink, and so are many other fans. If you choose incorrectly and serve us up dross, you will lose me (and many others) forever. Choose correctly, then it doesn’t even matter really if we come away with a result, as long as you try to affect the game in a positive way. God forbid, if you choose the right option and we win the game? Well, I’ll still think you’re inept, but you’ll have earned another week in my eyes.
What do you think? What formation should we play on Saturday? Should we really be fearing Aston Villa? Perhaps we should be keeping it tight this weekend? We’s love to hear your views.