‘Premier League Compass’ is a regular column on TheHardTackle that throws a magnifying glass over clubs other than the (made up) ‘super six’. In its first edition, the Compass points to the North-East where Alan Pardew is potentially on his way to bigger things.

It’s hard to believe that only two seasons ago, Newcastle were languishing in the Championship. Throughout the season previous to that, Newcastle were ‘too big’ to go down but the horrors of relegation engulfed the club in May 2009 following disastrous results under Irish manager Joe Kinnear and equally poor results under a helpless Alan Shearer.

Two and a half seasons on, Newcastle United’s convincing rout of champions United – their first in over a decade at St. James’ – shows that they’ve regained their most basic of identities – being an established Premier League club – and completed a mini-renaissance.

While manager Chris Hughton not only kept the boat afloat in the Championship, gaining immediate promotion back to the big league, he laid the foundation for next season’s Premiership survival; only to be sacked in controversial circumstances and be replaced by a highly experienced manager in Alan Pardew. Since then, Pardew has exceeded all expectations.

Tyneside - getting more than expected

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First, he ensured survival in the club’s first season back even after a major mid-season setback with the sale of their primary player. Second, considering that the club’s owner isn’t in the habit of dipping into his funds, he has been forced to make shrewd signings and he has done a wonderful job of it. And third, he has been a tactically astute manager, who has also coached his players onto greater things.

Alan Pardew has largely been a dignified, stable but a pleasantly animated presence in the Newcastle dugout. For a club so routinely involved in off-field turmoils or on-field controversies, Pardew has been a perfect fit. He has not only managed to keep Newcastle out of the headlines for the wrong reasons, but made headlines for the right ones.

Unfazed by the lack of transfer funds and not bothered by his side being written off as relegation candidates prior to the start of the season, Pardew has responded by going about his job without any complaints, regrets and has solelyAi??focusedAi??on, or with, who he has in his squad. The perfect example of which is Newcastle’s defence this season, a stark contrast from the leaky defence last season.

He did admit that bouncing back from the sale of Andy Carroll – a striker that took the league by storm and had become the focal point of Newcastle’s success – was his greatest achievement in management. For a club that was in its first season back from the Championship, it was a major blow indeed but the recovery summed up what the rejuvenated Newcastle were all about – 100% team spirit, full commitment, a willingness to struggle through tough situations and not a glimpse of difficulty in adjusting to the sudden managerial change.

The summer transfer window of 2011 turned out to be a disaster. Expecting funds from the sale of Andy Carroll as rewards for a wonderful previous season, the manager received peanuts. On top of that, Kevin Nolan chose a Championship club over staying at Newcastle due to contract disputes, Jose Enrique went to Liverpool for only 6m and Joey Barton’s rebellious attempts against the poor management at the club were thwarted when he was shipped to QPR for free.

But Alan Pardew had a card or two up his sleeve. He spent a little under 13m on six players, including the signings of Demba Ba (on a free) and Yohan Cabaye that have turned out to be among the top signings in the Premier League this season.

And against Manchester United on Wednesday night, it was no surprise that these two were among the keyAi??protagonistsAi??that destroyed Alex Ferguson’s side so emphatically, it may just improve United’s season with Fergie forced to enter the market for new players after this result.

Not only did thisAi??performanceAi??have pace, ability, class, intelligence and commitment, but the heavy amounts of swagger and a touch of arrogance was a sight to behold. This was perhaps best shown by Coloccini, who decided he had enough about him to do a drag back and backheel combination to get out of a tight spot in the penalty area with Valencia closing him down, or a little back-heel flick by Gutierrez in a similar position. There was an appropriate mix of showboating and desperation. Everything came off the way it was planned.

Alan Pardew’s tactics were bold and virtually spot on, to the dismay of Ben Arfa perhaps. Shola Ameobi came into the starting line-up instead of his usual substitute appearances, to assert aerial superiority over Phil Jones and Rio Ferdinand. His flick on for Demba Ba’s goal could hardly be better than what it was, except it was overshadowed by the quality of Ba’s finish.

What Ameobi also did is keep the United central pairing busy and deep, while Ba dropped deep to either collect the ball or put pressure on Michael Carrick. The tactic worked well throughout the game with Ba running at the defence and Ameobi winning a lot of headers in dangerous positions.

The manager made another crucial choice to shift Ryan Taylor from left-back to the right side of midfield, while solidifying the defence with former Inter player David Santon at left back. And Check Tiote kept Wayne Rooney busy, rather than the other way around.

Pardew promised to attack United and he did so using the full width of the pitch, often exploiting the space left due to Evra’s forward ventures on United’s left. Danny Simpson’s freedom to overlap at will was seen right from the beginning of the match and since the plan of action of the two strikers, plus a perfect Cabaye free-kick, worked wonders for Pardew, the advantage of having two players with defensive capabilities on the right – Taylor and Simpson – turned out to be a good advantage.

After reaching dizzy heights in the league, Newcastle’s bubble seemed to have burst when they went six games without a win at the end of 2011. If the United game is anything to go by, that bubble is firmly intact and could soon be at its strongest in recent years.

With one of the largest stadiums in England to fill in passionate Geordies and a knack of being perpetual entertainers, the Premier League ‘brand’ would certainly welcome Newcastle’s long-term stay with open arms.

Alan Pardew hates Barton’s habit of tweeting, but the former Newcastle midfielder nominated Ba for player of the year and Pardew as manager of the year through his beloved twitter handle after the United match. While Ba’s year-end award still seems a far shout, Alan Pardew has been a dark horse this season, competing neck and neck with the league’s best managers.

After Wednesday night, though, he may just be winning the race.

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One Response to “Newcastle’s Win Over Man United Marks Completion Of A Renaissance”

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  1. at last an ‘outsider’ who talks sense about the mysteries of the toon!! well done and spot on-thanks!