How do we pull ourselves out of the win drought?

Posted on March 8th, 2012 | 44 Comments |

Gabriel Obertan - Out of favour?
Out of favour?
Newcastle United are going through (what is so far) a short spell without a win, so what can be done to pull us out of that?

We’re in the midst of a slightly disappointing run. Since our 5-0 thrashing from Spurs we’ve only managed two draws. We seemed to lack resilience and second-half ‘attitude’ against Wolves and threw away a 2-0 lead. Against the mackems it was the other way around and we clawed our way back into the game in the second half to snatch a draw. We’re up against Arsenal next of course and I can’t help but feel pessimistic about our chances of coming away from The Emirates with any points.

So what can we do to improve?

One of the criticisms of the team I’ve heard a lot is that our midfield plays too deep and this isolates our strikers a bit, and it has been suggested that introducing Ben Arfa into the mix helps to alleviate this problem. Yet Alan Pardew seems reluctant to start with Benny and has insinuated that this may be because Benny doesn’t defend well enough and thus leaves us open at the other end.

Maybe Benny will forever be seen as a ‘luxury player’, so could it be that Alan Pardew thinks that he’s a luxury we can’t afford on regular, starting-the-game basis? We’ve used luxury players with some success in the past – Keegan’s use of Ginola, Robson’s use of Robert etc. – so what’s the difference now? Is Pardew’s reluctance to use Benny simply because he doesn’t think the rest of the team is solid enough to allow that on a regular basis, or is it some sort of ‘defensive-prejudice’ that Pardew has (he is the defensive coach after all)?

Why, I wonder, has Gabriel Obertan fallen out of favour on the right win recently? It seems that Ryan Taylor is getting the nod ahead of him lately. Since playing 84 minutes against Liverpool back in December, Obertan has been on the pitch for less than 90 minutes in 8 league games.

Sylvain Marveaux is still a month away from recovering from his Gilmore’s Groin injury but will his return to fitness signify any sort of change that might be considered a ‘tactical improvement’? It would seem unlikely given that he’s only got 1 full start and 5 substitute appearances to his name.

Could it be that we simply need some new players to take facilitate improvement? Few would deny that we have over-performed this season so far. In fact in our poll at the start of the season, 60% thought we’d be ‘mid-table battlers’ (18% thought Europa League, 15% though ‘scraping through’, 4% thought relegated), so our current 6th place should be a pleasant surprise to most fans. Maybe we have a team that’s capable of a 6th/7th place finish but not yet a team that can climb beyond that.

So basically my question is: How do we improve from here both in terms of the rest of this season and in the next?

NUFCBlog Author: Hugh de Payen I'm a baby-boomer of the punk rock persuasion, currently exiled in Somerset for crimes committed in a previous life where locals keep trying to poison me with something called 'scrumpy'. Hates sprouts, coat-hangers, Cilla Black, ornaments, Steven Seagull movies and 50 Cent (he's not worth 10). Hugh de Payen has written 634 articles on this blog.

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44 Responses

  1. From what I saw (as much as everyone!) of Marveux he looks a player. He’s lightning quick with a great first touch and skill to beat a man. Sees a pass too. He could be the missing link BUT maybve away from home we should favour 5 in mid with Cisse or Ba up front and Marveux the link.He is -like Ben Arfa- not just able to play on the wing.

    Why don’t we play Ben Arfa in that role at the minute? I think he just gives the ball away too often which exposes the fullbacks. Simpson isa not good enought to cope with one man running at him, let alone two.
    One solution would be to play Raylor at RB as Simpson just is NOT good enough. He’s a weak defender (unless he’s clearing one off the line!) who can’t time a tackle and prefers to jockey his man from way too far away. Raylor is a bit more old fashioned in that he will actually put himself in there with a tackle, his timing is better.
    If Simpson wasn’t so bobbins, Ben Arfa would get a game more than he is now.
    Role on the summer if Pieters moves here. Santon over to RB, Simpson off to the championship.

  2. For me, I would put Raylor at left back and Santon at right which is his natural position. Then have HBA on the wing in front of Santon. Santon will provide much better attacking width with HBA and also have Tiote drop back whenever Santon moves forward to provide cover. With this system we should beat the Arse 173-0. Ok, maybe 173-1. Rip van winkle has to get a goal.

  3. After Arsenal’s 3-0 win the other night I fear a hammering, possibly another 5-0 job. With 4 in midfield (ie 2 wingers) will be over run and the 2 forwards will be spectators.
    Our best chance is 0-0, with Tioti covering the back 4, Jonas, Cabaye, Guthrie & Raylor infront of him, Ba on his own up front = 4-1-4-1
    Not adventurous or pretty but realistic – stop them playing, cover in depth, keep the ball, release Ba on the break.

  4. Arsenal? – They’re a one man team – we need Tiote to “do a Clattermole” on Robin Van Hire in the first 60 seconds to get him limping for the rest of the game….then watch the soft soothern pooftas wilt….

  5. Arsenal (with Chelski & Liverpool) are our rivals – these are six-pointer matches of the win at home draw away variety.
    A draw at “Highbury” is 2 points dropped by them & 1 gained by us – with a realistic mentality like this we can battle a way into europe.
    This includes supporting Chelski to win the FA Cup!

    Let’s face it, they will all outspend us in the summer so it will more difficult for us next year.


  6. We definitely need to get away from the winger thing (nowt new, i’ve been gannin’ on about it for years), it’s too predictable. We need some fluidity & especially away, we need to pack the midfield, this, for me is where HBA comes in. It’s not like he can’t utilize width in his play whilst popping up behind the CF/s too, is it?
    Like the lads above ^^^^^^, i think we can play Raylor on the left, Santon on the right, 5 in midfield etc. Ba likes to drop back & help out or pick up the ball deep sometimes too. We need to be able to take the ball through the middle into the box, not just wide players crossing.
    i digress.

  7. Supermac says:
    March 8, 2012 at 1:24 pm


    I really hope it isn’t 0-0 Supermac because I’m gannin’. As I will be in attendance, I hope it’s 5-4 to us!

  8. supermac,
    as we have learned, you can’t rely on money spent, alone, can you?
    Look at liverpool. £120m & 7th.
    We might even be in the black & 6th.
    chelsea can spend whatever but it means nowt if they aren’t the right players with the right attitude.
    manure spent how much on a ‘alright-ish’ ‘keeper?
    We spent next to nowt & developed one.
    See what i mean?

  9. Not sure how we’ll pull ourselves out but it certaintly isn’t this match. 3-1 or worse I think. Kinda expect Oxlade-chamberlane (spelling?) to terror us similar to Sturridge.

  10. CLiNT FLiCK says:
    March 8, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    ” Look at liverpool. £120m & 7th.
    We might even be in the black & 6th.
    chelsea can spend whatever but it means nowt if they aren’t the right players with the right attitude.
    manure spent how much on a ‘alright-ish’ ‘keeper?
    We spent next to nowt & developed one.”

    Clint, we are still well over £100 million in debt.

    Liverpool have won a trophy this season, Manchester United win trophies practically every year, Chelsea won the double the year before last. Perhaps we should win at least one this milennium before we start scoffing at such teams?

  11. worky,

    i ain’t scoffing, just pointing out that liverpool are below us, this season, after spending £120m to our potentially, making a profit, this season, on players bought & sold.
    Y’get me?

    manure can’t be counted when it comes to trophies as they get ref/fa assistance in every game etc.

    But on the matter of their very expensive & ‘not bad ‘keeper, they spent big & we didn’t & developed one, as i wrote above.

    My agenda had nada to do with trophy wins though, just what’s been spent this season.

  12. “Look at liverpool. £120m & 7th” – but that is a gross figure not net, and they have a cup and a euro place, and could still overtake us.
    We could finish 7th behind arsenal, chelski & liverpool – out of europe and out-spent in summer.
    Its a two tier league – those 7 for whom 7th is a failure and the rest of us for whom 7th is a triumph. And jeering at how much they spent is no consolation for me.
    This season may be our last chance for a while to gate crash their party.

  13. I just can’t believe the myopia regarding Simpson-gotten so bad that some convince themselves Santon has proven himself a great defender. Hmmm…

    As for Obertan losing his spot, that was caused by Santon forcing his way into the squad. Wanting to keep Raylor’s passing and free kicks on the pitch, the natural move was to slot him in on the right side of midfield. Thing is, to me, he’s not really much better than HBA in that role. He’s a better defender and a more natural crosser, but Raylor has no pace at all and he’s not a dribbler either, rarely beats a man. Also, he’s regularly sucked into the middle, depriving us of width.

    The formation needs changing. Seems obvious to me.

  14. Supermac says:
    March 8, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    “Clint accounts – worth seeing just for the name on the stadium!”

    Have you seen the actual accounts Supermac? Because I’m still waiting for them to come up the Companies House website.

    As for the PR Statement on the club’s website and in the Chronic; many still hate Andy Carroll and call him a “Judas,” after Ashley, Llambias and Pardew misled us about him, yet he is the only reason why our accounts aren’t more or less the same as last year’s accounts and Ashley and Llambias get all of the credit. It’s a funny old world. :-)

  15. Cant believe we have offered Raylor a new deal, if this is what we call quality in depth, we are in deep shit and going nowhere.
    The guy is awfull, both he and Williamson should be long gone, as Williamson will never be a CD or Raylor either a winger or defender.
    He was brought here as a deadball kicker and cant even do that, Cabaye is much better.
    As for those criticising Simpson, you just dont get it.
    Of course it’s all down to whoever Pardew pencils in and that usually dictates what kind of a lineup we use.
    But to sit HBA and play Raylor on the wing say’s it all about Pardew, no clue !
    As for the two strikers up front and everyone else defending, aaaarrrrrggghh !
    If in fact Pardew does,nt want to play HBA, then switch Jonas to the RW and bring in young Ferguson on the left.
    But to talk of replacing either Santon with Raylor is dumb, as is replacing Simpson with Santon.
    Point is we need at least three quality defenders, we can sort out the rest easy enough.
    Though with Pardew in charge, doubt we will accomplish much.

  16. Supermac says :

    “After Arsenal’s 3-0 win the other night I fear a hammering, possibly another 5-0 job. With 4 in midfield (ie 2 wingers) will be over run and the 2 forwards will be spectators”

    We couldnt get the forwards involved against the Dark Side SMac, so we’ve no chance against quality opposition. Maybe someone will give Pardwho the “Book of Tactics” for an early Easter present ?

  17. PPS Watching the red mancs lose abysmally at home to Bilbao leads me to another subject topic : Has the BPL gone soft and flabby ?

  18. Tut!!

    Look – forget about winning against The Arse – even if we won, the London based media will report that we lost innit? I fort (thought) you was (were) rubbish (and THAT’S just Chrissy “Pice” (Pace) Waddle the cockney geordie (?) talking)…..aye right…..

    God! I’m so glad to be a Geordie

  19. AndyMac says:
    March 8, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    “PS Still working on my masterpiece WT”

    Andy, by the time it’s finished we’ll probably have a different manager, a different team and a different owner! :-)

    AndyMac says:
    March 8, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    “PPS Watching the red mancs lose abysmally at home to Bilbao leads me to another subject topic : Has the BPL gone soft and flabby ?”

    I’m not going to answer that question as it probably requires another essay to answer it properly. When I was reading about Marcelo “The mad one” Bielsa in today’s Indie though, someone I have been familiar with since he won the Olympic gold medal with Argentina, what struck me was; how did a relatively small team like Athletic Club attract a manager like him? If I woke one morning to find that someone of his calibre was the manager of Newcastle United, I would be bouncing off the walls!

  20. Well, worky Athletic are actually a big club. I heard they have won more than any other team is Spain barring the big two.

    Anyway, the indipendent claim we have signed romain Amilfatano.

  21. summerof69 says:
    March 9, 2012 at 12:44 am

    “Well, worky Athletic are actually a big club. I heard they have won more than any other team is Spain barring the big two.”

    Aye, but nearly all of them a long time ago Summer. They have a stadium which has a capacity of around 40,000. I’ve just looked up their average attendance figures for the 2011-12 season and they had an average attendance of 37,615.

    Cheers for the link BTW. Bit starange for it to be repoerted like that tacked on the end of another story about the accounts.

  22. Thay are moving in to a new 55,000 stadium though aren’t they ?

    “Aye, but nearly all of them a long time ago Summer.”

    Does that mean they don’t count ? I guess we haven’t won any trophie sat all then. Considering thier Cantera policy i think they are a very well sized club.

  23. Whoah! Hang on a minute Summer. It isn’t the transfer window! What’s gannin’ on there?

    It’s possible that they may have signed some kind of pre contract agreement, but they can’t actually sign him.

  24. I think you can actually sign players before hand but perhaps the registration or something isn’t allowed to go through. I know Bayern do this regularely, most recently with Shaqiri.

  25. summerof69 says:
    March 9, 2012 at 1:08 am

    “Does that mean they don’t count ?”

    Well, to put it one way, Preston North End, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Sheffield United are the fourth, fifth and sixth in the all time English football league respectively, and Burnley are ninth – All above us in fourteenth. Notts County are one place below us in fifteenth too. How much does does it count for them?

  26. Sumer of 69
    Yeah there were rumors to that effect, that we wanted to sign him.
    What is he ? another midfielder.
    I dont get it, why are we signing midfielders when the obvious need is for defenders, unless of course we intend to bring in some in addition to this guy.
    Could it be we may possibly sell some of our midfielders and this is the latest model off the French assembly line.
    I see where Raylor got a two year deal, whereas most are geting long contracts, hopefully it’s just to protect him from playing out his contract and hopefully some club might come in for him (and Williamson hopefully soon)
    From all reports Tiote and Cabaye, our two big players seem happy enough at the club, as are our striking duo.
    At least thats the sounds i hear ?
    Missed the Man. U. game thats the uafa cup right?
    Wow, thats a comedown, what with the EPL’s top clubs needing to rebuild, should be some dosh spent come the summer window.
    It should be a good time to dump some of our deadwood and replace them, with the usual younger, better and of course cheaper youngsters from the French league.
    Wonder how the folks in France feel about our poaching their young talented players, that they have developed ?

  27. There’s Athletico Madrid, who’s strip is based on Sunderlands, being the club was founded by English ex pats from that area.
    Then their is Athletic Bilbao, a Basque side also founded by British ex pats, therefor the English athletic, as opposed to the Spanish spelling.
    There are many more examples throughout the world, River Plate as opposed to Rio Plata, Newels old boys, Everton in Chile, etc. those old time ex pats have a lot to answer for and i like the idea that no one has ever decided they needed changing to a more Spanish name.
    Little bit of trivia there !

  28. Chuck, another piece of trivia, it’s “Athletic Club,” not “Athletic Bilbao.” ;-)

    But anyway, they have a top manager and a major innovator ATM.

  29. chuck says:
    March 9, 2012 at 2:49 am

    We should be so lucky !”

    If you mean Bielsa, that’s exactly what I was thinking. He really is quite a fascinating chap, though as his nickname suggests, some think he’s as mad as a box of frogs!–but-theres-method-in-bielsas-madness-7544610.html

    I’ve put a new post up BTW. Thanks Summer of 69!

  30. chuck,
    Raylor got a 2 year extension only ‘cos he’ll be 30 when it ends, then he or anyone else, most likely, will get 1-2 year add ons if they are upto & up for it.
    Unlike Capt. Colo as he is an exception & it’s to either ward off or out price suitors.