Southampton vs Newcastle United: Timid, lightweight, chaotic, humiliated – and it’s Hull up next for hapless Alan Pardew

 

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The Independent Football

If Alan Pardew lasts the week as Newcastle United manager – a big “if” after Saturday’s 4-0 humiliation at Southampton – then he will have gone half-way to proving right the suggestion in these pages last week that he had two matches in which to save his job. He must wish the visitors in the second, at St James’ Park on Saturday, were not Hull City.

Hull were the opponents in March when Pardew disgracefully butted David Meyler, earning him a stadium ban and a further touchline suspension. They are managed by Northumberland-born Steve Bruce, a boyhood Newcastle supporter and second favourite to succeed the Londoner, according to one bookmaker. And among their ranks, although unable to play, will be Hatem Ben Arfa, sent out on loan to the outrage of the Geordie fans, for whom the Frenchman has become a symbol of the failings of Pardew’s management.

The name of Ben Arfa was one of the chants directed at Pardew on Saturday. Those of “Pardew out” are likely to be realised in days rather than weeks. His only friends were among his staff, his assistant John Carver remonstrating with fans before the game. Pardew’s decision not to speak to the written press afterwards was understandable, if not exactly brave, but neither did he send Carver to share his thoughts, which would have been interesting.

 

If a clear message was required, it came from the players on the field, who seemed to be lining up like Romans in Julius Caesar to plunge home the knives. Lightweight in attack and chaotic in defence, the team were almost all embarrassments to the shirts they wore so timidly. It is no secret that Pardew has only a cursory input into signings, but he deserves better. Injuries, including the groin tear that will sideline £6m new signing Siem de Jong until January, have played a part in a run that has brought only five points from a possible 36, but they are no excuse for lack of heart.

As for leadership, Fabricio Coloccini, as captain, should set an example, and in a way he did, his slack back-pass almost gifting a goal to Southampton in the first minute.

Southampton were supposed to be the club in crisis after selling five key players in the summer, but they have bought well to replace them, and Pardew will have noted that one of their best performers was Morgan Schneiderlin, who played for him during his 13 months at St Mary’s in 2009-10 – and who was agitating to leave in the summer.

“Everyone was worried when we lost so many players,” Schneiderlin said. “But the club showed, by buying some good players and bringing in a top manager, that they still have ambitions, and that is really what I was asking for.”

Will Newcastle’s new signings, who came at a combined cost of £35m, prove to be as successful? Pardew is running out of time to find out.

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