Alan Pardew has claimed Newcastle’s recruitment mistakes have made it hard for them to steer clear of relegation from the Premier League.
With three games of the season remaining and his team perilously close to the bottom three, the manager takes his team back to his former club West Ham today and has blamed some of their problems on a failure to sign players with enough Premier League experience. That is despite spending £31 million in the January transfer window, when five players arrived at St James’ Park on the recommendation of chief scout Graham Carr.
There was an initial upturn in results but Newcastle have won just once in the last eight games, pushing them into a scrap for survival with two punishing defeats in their last two matches at St James’ Park, against Sunderland and Liverpool.
Pardew has denied claims of dressing-room splits and major language problems with the big influx of French players who now play for the club – all five players who arrived in January were from across the Channel. However, the Newcastle manager, who is fighting for the club’s future and his own, has said he feels the squad he is trying to keep out of the Championship lacks experience of playing in England. There will be a review of recruitment policy in the summer, when Pardew’s future and that of the club itself will be clearer.
“I think one of the problems I faced in this group, if I am honest, is not a language problem, not a cultural problem, it’s been inexperience,” he said. “We still have a lot of inexperience on the pitch.
“Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa is playing his eighth or ninth Premier League game on the trot, which is hard, as Colo [Fabricio Coloccini] found when he arrived, and he has been a great player for us. He gives us a seven, eight, nine every week when he’s playing, but when he first came he wasn’t like that. Hopefully in the next three we can get performances that are more eight and nine, than six.
“The biggest problem is that, between us, we lack experience. Heavy defeats break your spirit and that’s happened to a few of my players. It has been an experience problem. We’ve got a lot of Premier League inexperience on the pitch.
“We will certainly, at the end of the year, have a discussion about where we are going to trade and where is best for the group.”
Newcastle face their former players Andy Carroll and Kevin Nolan when they face West Ham today. Nolan, a hugely influential captain during his time at St James’ Park, was sold two summers ago.
“What Kevin has is a real knowledge of how to win games in the Premier League,” added Pardew. “James Collins, Andy and Mark Noble are players who I know very well who are very experienced in the Premier League. They have nous. That’s a word I used a lot about Kevin. He is a worry for us on Saturday.”