What's gone wrong at Newcastle United?

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew claims club have been exposed by failure to build on last season's momentum and admits they are facing serious problems

The dressing room of a team falling down the Premier League is never one for a faint heart. Newcastle had lost at Fulham, a defeat that had moved them down to 14th in the table, a far cry from an outside shot of a place in the Champions League, as had been the case just six months earlier during a campaign where everything went right. Defeat against Martin Jol's side was the ninth time in 11 games that Newcastle had not won. Words were said, forthright opinions were exchanged between senior players as to why the club were failing and who was not pulling their weight. It needed the calm head of Shola Ameobi to launch an impassioned speech, a call to arms for everyone to unite quickly in order to save a season that few had predicted would head towards a relegation fight.

Yet that is exactly where Newcastle now find themselves.

Eight months after finishing fifth in the Premier League, Newcastle head to Norwich City tomorrow fighting to stay out of the relegation zone. Brighton, for the second year running, ended their FA Cup run at the first attempt last weekend. They have won just two of their last 16 games and whilst the eight year contract that Alan Pardew signed in September has given a club infamous for its unpredictability a degree of stability, concern grows over their form and serious questions have been raised about the lack of investment that took place in the summer.

Then, when Pardew had pocketed both the Premier League Manager of the Season and the LMA Manager of the Year award, Newcastle had genuine momentum.

Under the eye of head scout Graham Carr, the 68-year-old former Northampton manager, they had recruited well. Hatem Ben Arfa, Yohan Cabaye and Papiss Cissé had enjoyed exhilarating campaigns. Cissé, a January signing for £9m had proved the catalyst for an outstanding end to the season. The Senegalese forward scored 13 goals in 14 games, and they went into the final game of the season with an outside chance of a fourth-place finish. It didn't come. Investment didn't come.

Newcastle held firm on deals for Mathieu Debuchy and the FC Twente centre-half Douglas. They saved in the short term (the final price for Debuchy, who signed last week, was £2m cheaper) but the effect of not building on the wave of momentum that was created last season has been huge.

Senior players were unhappy that the only major signing in the summer was Vurnon Anita from Ajax, for £6.7 million. It was a squad that always looked ill-equipped to deal with both a Premier League campaign and the Europa League.

"We do need players," said Pardew today. "It's been obvious on this run, we've had an extended injury list, but even without that we wouldn't have had the opportunity to rest players when they needed to. Therefore, we accept that we didn't do enough in the summer and we need to do it now. We've made it clear we regret that.

"You lose confidence in terms of faith in what you are doing to some degree, but you have to stay strong. For me, sometimes I look back on periods, good and bad, and we keep a record of everything we do. Every training session is kept. I do worry about putting too much info into the players because when you win you don't have to do that. We need to show that desire on the pitch to satisfy our fans, but not push them over the edge, like Shola getting sent off [at Brighton] which was an uncharacteristic moment for him.

"We're going to have some tough decisions in the summer. We've got 17 games and at least two in the Europa League to go. I'll have a lot of questions answered about what I think is under the first team here, because at the moment, what has been under the first team at the moment hasn't produced as I hoped it would.

"The players who should have developed from the Under-21s, I can't even begin to explain the frustration. The frustration of our fans, the trust we built up last season, has started to erode away and we need to repair that over the second half of the season. For me it's been very frustrating.

"My mentality towards it is to make sure everybody is doing their jobs 100 per cent, keeping on top of my stuff, trying to lift my players and kick a couple of them up the bum in terms of the responsibility they have here. Particularly one or two of the younger players, the work ethic needs to improve and they need to improve as individuals. Those younger players have not produced what I wanted them to produce so they're going to have to work harder or they are going to have to leave this football club."

It is unimaginable that Newcastle could be dragged into a serious relegation scrap the season after qualifying for European competition for the first time in five years. The potential loss of their talismanic captain Fabricio Coloccini would be a huge blow. Demba Ba has already left after Chelsea activated the £7.5m clause in his contract and Newcastle can ill afford their most senior player to depart. However Coloccini has told the club he must leave over what his agent called a "personal matter". Pardew needs a striker to replace Ba and a central defender. And that is before the Coloccini situation.

On the plus side, Newcastle have been linked with Valenciennes' left-back Gaëtan Bong. Moreover, Cabaye, the man who sold the club to his former Lille team-mate Debuchy, is back in the squad for the trip to Norwich tomorrow. He is not quite 100 per cent fit after recovering from a groin operation but his influence on the squad is now so great that Pardew was desperate to have him travel. He may make the substitute's bench. If Coloccini leaves, Cabaye is the captain in waiting.

Ben Arfa could also return sooner than expected after a serious hamstring injury. Steven Taylor should be back by the start of next month. Cissé will return at Carrow Road, too.

Pardew needs them all back at the top of their game. As Ameobi, a Newcastle player for 13 seasons knows only too well, it is a football club that needs unity more than just about any other in the country.

Miserable Magpies: Toon in trouble

15 Goals conceded by Newcastle in their last four matches.

5 Wins in 22 matches in all competitions since Alan Pardew signed his contract extension.

20 Points from 21 games, three less than the same stage in 2008-09 – when they were relegated.

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths
Life and Style
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn