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The five reasons behind Newcastle United’s unexpected revival


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Newcastle United's ascent to fourth place in the Premier League has taken everyone except the most ardent Geordie supporter by surprise. Our man in the North-East looks at the reasons behind the Toon turnaround.


The five reasons behind Newcastle United’s unexpected revival


By Luke Edwards


9:04PM GMT 30 Oct 2011



1) Attention to detail


Alan Pardew is happy to admit he is a statistics geek, devouring computer data from every Newcastle performance. He is able to spot any drop in individual performance, but also identify where the team’s positioning and delivery needs to improve, as well as the types of runs his attacking players are failing to make.


Pardew does not restrict his analysis to his own side. Sticking to the mantra that to fail to prepare is to prepare to fail, United’s backroom staff spend hours looking at tapes of their Premier League rivals to ensure they know almost as much about how the opposition like to play as their own side. It is an area the club has invested heavily in since returning to the top flight.


2) Refusal to accept their lofty position is a false one


A few days after Newcastle’s 2-2 draw with Tottenham Hotspur I received a call from a player to tell me a few members of the squad had been less than enamoured with my match report. As well as showing good taste, if slightly unusual given the stereotypical liking for tabloids, in the choice of newspaper read, some players were annoyed by my suggestion they were not strong enough to finish in the top four this season.


Where once this could be dismissed as Newcastle’s arrogant sense of entitlement, this season it shows that, while most have been surprised by the team’s excellent start, there is steel like self-belief among the players they are not simply going to melt away as the pressure on them to stay among the European contenders grows.


3) The return of Hatem Ben Arfa


A difficult character, he was watched by virtually every top Premier League club at Marseille before eventually moving to Newcastle, initially on loan, in August last year. A brief glimpse of his ability was cut short by a career-threatening double leg break 12 months ago, but his return to the squad has felt like a new superstar signing for Pardew.


The France international is being eased into things after so long on the sidelines and has looked short of sharpness, but his very presence has scared opposition defenders whenever he has come off the bench. A potential match winner who has cranked up competition for places even while short of best form, one seasoned United campaigner described him as “the most naturally gifted player” they have ever shared a dressing room. Will play in the hole behind the main striker, a traditional number ten role English defenders always struggle to control.


4) Ran by Cockneys, looked after by Geordies


It was Sir Bobby Robson who said you have to understand what Newcastle United means to those who follow it to be successful as its manager. Born and raised in Durham, Robson claimed he had black and white blood, while Kevin Keegan had a unique bond after his days as a player.


The people who run Newcastle United can never claim to have that special affinity and the Cockney Mafia tag has been used as a stick to beat the Mike Ashley regime for the last four years, but the current set up has Geordies in key positions.


Chief Scout Graham Carr, the man responsible for much of the player recruitment that has improved Pardew’s squad and head of a far-reaching scouting network, has as much an eye for talent as those who will blossom in a unique football environment. Pardew, meanwhile, believes one of his best decisions was to appoint John Carver as his assistant, a Geordie who performed the same role under Robson. Along with another North-East native, coach Steve Stone, he ensures the players are constantly reminded of what the paying public demands from them.


5) Harmony behind the scenes


Newcastle’s players prided themselves on succeeding against the odds last season, a them and us mentality fostered by former manager Chris Hughton and policed by influential skipper Kevin Nolan. The split between playing staff and board, however, was a chasm and there was bad feeling on both sides even during their relatively successful return to the Premier League.


At the centre of the tension was the removal of Hughton as manager, but also the board’s reluctance to agree a deal for bonus payments. With the departure of Nolan and chief agitator Joey Barton, a new deal was struck in the summer without fuss and managing director Derek Llambias is now a welcome visitor to the training ground, even arriving unexpectedly at a recent team bonding meal to pay the bill. The whole club is united, not just the dressing room.

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Point 3 is completely irrelevant for starters. IMO


1) A settled team with a soild defence and a confident goal keeper

2) A never say die attitude

3 & 4) as 1 and 5

5) A fairly weak league outside of the two Manc teams although you can only play what's put infront of you.

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For me, the defence (including Krul); our team spirit (leading to our never-say-die attitude); adopting a new style of play (the passing it along the deck rather than playing long balls) have been the key factors to our brilliant start/run so far.


And the lack of injuries/suspensions to our key players as pointed out above have been a plus too.

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Luck with an almost spooky lack of injuries and suspensions is a definite factor btw. January will see us lose two of our best players for at least a couple of weeks too.


Change the record, Dave.

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Luck with an almost spooky lack of injuries and suspensions is a definite factor btw. January will see us lose two of our best players for at least a couple of weeks too.


Change the record, Dave.


What? :lol:


Just saying, apart from the Wolves and QPR results that's the only area where I would say we've been particularly 'lucky'. Especially on the injuries, for us. I'm concerned about what will happen in/after January with players going away - and that's without them being injured etc. The striker we're supposedly after is going to be there as well.


None of which is intended to play down our achievements so far, so I'm not sure what your post means. Just a point of discussion.

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Well for a start you can substitute the cynical "a spooky lack of injuries" to "a genuinely fitter squad". Sure, there was an element of bad luck in the days of Souness and Roeder, where injuries were an absolute joke, but it's not all down to that. We've had a much fitter set-up here ever since we got relegated.

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1 Back 5

its ridiculous (by nufc standards) just how solid our defence and keeper have looked, hell even Raylors looking like a half decent left back, whatever work Pardews doing in training with them keep it up


2 Luck

luck with injuries and suspensions as well as the occasional ref decision (Wolves away basically there) and also luck with timing of playing certain teams, to catch Arsenal while they were in a bit of chaos was lucky, to catch the mackems before they're side had a chance to blend or the board had a chance to sack Agent Bruce is lucky, to get Fulham at home after they were away in Europe was lucky


3 Weak opposition

not "we've played no one yet blah blah blah" but just outside of the 2 Manchesters the rest are not up to much and outside the "top 6" theres fuck all difference in the teams


4 Stable selection

Don't think this can be underestimated as the understanding they're building is helping us a lot


5 Attitude

they don't know when they're beat and the spirit in the squad seems even better than Hughtons group of lads

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