HAVING re-evaluated his approach to managing Newcastle United, Alan Pardew will receive the money he wants to make further changes in January.
The Magpies face Fulham tonight with question marks over the fitness of Jonás Gutiérrez, Hatem Ben Arfa, Cheick Tioté, Demba Ba, Davide Santon and Gabriel Obertan, while Steven Taylor, Yohan Cabaye, Dan Gosling, Haris Vuckic and Ryan Taylor are definitely out.
It is too many for a squad of Newcastle’s size, and Pardew has dropped heavy hints he wants more investment in January’s transfer window than was forthcoming in the last. The Journal understands the men holding Newcastle’s purse strings will be receptive.
The fact remains, though, Pardew has struggled to get enough from those at his disposal this season, and a run of just one win in nine games has prompted some soul-searching.
“This spell certainly made me question a few things we have done,” the Magpies manager (pictured right) admitted. “Whenever you get a blip like that, it makes you get on your mettle and change a few things.
“We have changed quite a few things actually. I think it is also time for the board to have a little look at things as well. All of us have had to readjust a little bit. But I certainly wouldn’t say I have enjoyed the bad spell because I do not enjoy losing. I have been miserable.
“Most of the players have not had a lot of criticism since they have been at the club. At all football clubs, a degree of criticism will come your way at some stage. Maybe some players have been detached from that to this point but they have had their share now and quite rightly so.
“Hopefully we are getting the right response. That has certainly been the case for the last two league games.” Ben Arfa, who had targeted tonight to return from a hamstring strain, has been of the few to consistently produce his best form while the going has been tough. But Pardew refutes suggestions his team are too dependent on the playmaker.
“I do not really think that is correct because we are based on a team ethic,” he said. “However, I do think the style of play changes a little bit when Hatem and Cabaye are in the side. When they are both missing, we have to look for a different route.
“I think we have found that route because we have had a bit more resilience in the last couple of league games, and a bit more energy in midfield. We need to keep that when Hatem comes back, whether that is at Fulham or Man City (who Newcastle host on Saturday).”
Ben Arfa’s character in difficult times has gone some way to dispelling his enfant terrible image, and Pardew is considering giving him a more central role until Cabaye returns from a double hernia operation in February. He experimented with it in the Europa League home game against Maritimo, only for Ben Arfa (pictured right) to go off injured.
“That is a possibility,” Pardew confirmed. “I was very disappointed to lose him in that Maritimo game because I wanted to see a full 90 minutes out of him performing that role. He is going to put the ball at risk there, but is also going to to increase the flair in and around the central areas. I am sure there will be games where I think it is right to put him there or even start with him there. Last time at Man City and Man Utd, Hatem played as a No. 10. Mentally and physically I think he is in much better shape to play that role than he was then.
“I have not really had any significant problems with Hatem. I think my experience of dealing with the likes of (former West Ham United players Yossi) Benayoun, (Carlos) Tévez, (Javier) Mascherano – who came over here in difficult situations – has helped.
“It is always good to have experience as a manager, you just must make sure you do not lose your drive and that definitely has not gone!”