Many people exonerate Alan Pardew from the string of poor performances his team put out because of the injuries he copes with at Newcastle, Pardew himself chief among them.
This ignores the fact that it is Alan Pardew himself and his staff who are primarily culpable for those injuries. First of all Pardew has repeatedly stated he will ignore medical advice and use his own instincts to assess whether a player is fit. As previously reported at The Mag:
Rolando [Aarons] had been out for a while and hadn’t played a reserve game or anything like that, was it a gamble to play him?
“Yes, I was advised not to but he did a little bit yesterday in training that I thought warranted him forty five minutes.”
This was immediately after Aarons had put in an excellent performance that drew the attention of pundits nationwide. Pardew was keen to take credit for a gamble that worked, as if he knew better, but now we clearly see the result. The young lad has been a long term loss the club could well have done without. Pardew may still see the gamble as having been worth it though, having eased pressure on his position at a time when it was at its peak.
Similarly, after Cisse was a 2 goal hero in his return game against Hull, Pardew was keen to take plaudits
“[Cisse] shouldn’t have played today, really. My medical staff didn’t agree that he should be included – I think he has trained five days. But when you are experienced – myself and John Carver looked at each other on Thursday, and your eye tells you sometimes that the player is fresh, he’s bright.”
Having been rushed back against advice, Cisse has only twice since been able to play 90 minutes from the 17 games Newcastle have played.
This has all been well documented already though. We’ve seen similar with Mehdi Abeid too this season, but a few anecdotal examples from a short space of time prove nothing. It’s a pattern I seem to see repeating over and again though. I wanted to check if this is only perception, or if there is further evidence of ineptitude in this area at Newcastle United.
I found the evidence using the Internet Archive, a site which takes a snapshot of webpages before they’re updated. By entering the popular Physioroom Premier league Injury table address a user is presented with a calendar where they can go back in history to certain dates and check the number of injuries at each club.
I’ve done that for a number of random dates around Christmas/New Year and towards the end of seasons going back 4 years (since Pardew arrived) and totalled those numbers to see which club suffers most from chronic injury troubles.
It’s clear that this is not just bad luck. It’s not just that Newcastle have more injuries at pivotal times of the season, but that they do so by a wide margin (12 when totalling injuries on these dates) all other clubs are separated by single digits.
This should put to bed any claims that Pardew has been unfortunate. At Newcastle everything is done on a shoestring. Scouts are tasked with finding cheaper players to take a chance on, this could mean an injury prone or temperamental player with ability, it’s an approach that can work (Ba) but more often than not will fail (Marveaux, Ben Arfa). Further, while the club are investing in facilities they are clearly not investing in staff, people who will protect a player and insist to a manager that they cannot play, or indeed a manager professional enough to heed medical advice and nurse his own players to ensure their long term contribution over short term goals.
The approach being taken not only short changes the fans and club who pay for the players to sit out games and are left with reserve players to fill the void, but also the players whose entire careers are jeopardised by the poorest rehabilitative record in the Premier league.