Posts Tagged ‘Barclays Premier League’

Brighter days on Tyneside

The Toon Army... having a nice time... so far

After eight rounds of matches in the EPL, Newcastle United and the two Manchester teams are sides yet to record a loss in the league so far. Who would have placed a bet on Magpies? No one!

Sunday’s game against one of the ‘top-six‘ side Tottenham Hotspur was another opportunity to assess Alan Pardew’s team – and they impressed again. The Londoners (Spurs) took the lead thanks to a Rafael Van der Vaart well converted spot kick after Steven Taylor’s foul on Manolito Adebayor and the scoreboard read one-nil at the interval to the visitors. The in-form Senegalese striker Demba Ba scored a poachers goal just as the second half began to restore parity. The ding-dong affair continued with neither side able to stamp their authority on the game but Harry Houdini Redknapp’s super sub Defoe shot Tottenham into the lead with about 20minutes left.

Alan Pardew shuffled his cards and brought on Shola Ameobi, Hatem Ben Arfa and debutant Davide Santon. Newcastle had to get something out of this game with Pardew barking instructions on the sidelines. Wave after wave of attack resulted in Ameobi’s goal to the delight of SJP. The Northerns pushed forward in search on a winning goal but it ended two all. A great game of football with genuine English passion.

Surprise manager of the 'surprise' team...

I am among the set of people who were shocked when NUFC sacked Chris Hughton last season and appointed Alan Pardew. I’ve never been a big Alan Pardew fan, I do not rate him highly but he appears to be erasing my doubts slowly with the performance his team has been producing this season. Although it’s still early days but Newcastle’s performance and form is one that makes me think Europe is not beyond the Magpies reach if this momentum can be maintained.

With the departure of high profile players like Joey Barton, Andy Carroll, Jose Enrique and Kevin Nolan, a lot of people expected this newly assembled Newcastle side to struggle in the Premier League. Fans and critics questioned the ambition of the Manager, and the Chairman, but it seems the new lads acquired by Pardew are settling in nicely in the big boots of the departed stars.

France international Yohan Cabaye who joined in the summer from Lille has fitted in, Man Utd flop Gabriel Obertan appears to be enjoying his football again, Demba Ba goals did not go down with West Ham. Ben Arfa is back while Slyvain Marveaux and Davide Santon taking their time to learn the Premier league ropes.

An impressive decision of Alan Pardew’s reign so far is installing Tim Krul in between the sticks ahead of old Harper. The Dutch international has the qualities required to be a good Premier league shot stopper with his good reflexes. The contribution of ‘old’ players like Coloccini, Guiterrez should not be overlooked too.

The heavyweight fixtures against the Manchester sides and Chelsea in the space of three weeks starting from mid-November is sure to be a defining period for Newcastle.  Win or lose in those games, the quality and decent depth of Pardew’s Newcastle suggests that a top-ten finish should be the minimum expectation from the board and the fans but aspiring for a place on the continental wouldn’t be too much of a dream.

Who says those happy days are not back on Tyneside after the gloomy Autumn of 2009?

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Holloway and his sinking Seasiders

Should he ditch his attacking philosophy?

Last weekend, Blackpool slipped into the bottom three of the Premier league for the first time this season. A 1-3 home loss to fellow strugglers Wigan push them down to 18th position on the league table with five games to go.
These are difficult moment for the Tangerines who secured their premier league status last May by defeating Cardiff City in the Championship play-off final. At the start of the season, they had a good run which saw them  occupy the 6th position, presently relegation threat is reality for the Bloomfield Road outift.

Ian Holloway, 48, was appointed as Blackpool’s manager in May 2009 and within a year, he secured Premier league football for the Seaside club thus enabling them compete at the pinnacle of English football for the first time in 39 years. The outspoken Bristol man is well known for his creative use of metaphors, strange and bizarre comments in post-match interviews.

His bold and attacking philosophy has been praised in several quarters at various times during this campaign with their star player Charlie Adam as the fulcrum of the team. His philosophy initially paid off as Blackpool kicked off the season with a 4-0 away win at Wigan and also raised eyebrows with other surprising wins which included a double over Liverpool. As the season winds down, the pressure of playing in the Premier League appears to be catching up with the Tangerines as they have hit a run of poor results. They have now won only once in their last 13 fixtures and have conceded more goals than any other Premier League team. They also have the worst home record in the division.

…conceded more goals than any other Premier League team

Holloway admitted after last weekend loss that his team’s form has been extrememly poor. He said,

“I fancy us when our backs are against the wall. We’re all trying to stick together and believe. We’ve got five games left and can’t hide. We’re in the worst form of anyone. But we’ve got plenty of fight in us, we’ve shown that before and must show it again.”

Blackpool, one of the teams with the lowest budget in the division have definitely been one of the most interesting  team to watch this season and credit must be given to their manager  for being so adventurous and ‘pro-football’ despite the fact that Blackpool were one of the bookmakers favorite to go down. However now, Holloway will need to fashion out a new approach that can help his dissappearing vessel from going under with five games left in such an unpredictable relegation battle going on in the Premier League this term.