Louis van Gaal. Jose Mourinho. Manuel Pellegrini. Alan Pardew? It’s almost hard to imagine the hot-headed, silver-haired Newcastle United boss being mentioned in the same breath as those three managerial juggernauts. But with Newcastle securing their fifth league victory in breezy fashion, it seems Mike Ashley was right not to back up his wisecrack that Pardew would have been sacked if performances didn’t improve. The banners have read ‘Back from the Dead’ at the Sports Direct Arena and even away from home, and the fans that were once polishing the axe are now freshly anointing Pardew with praise. The players that limped to a listless defeat by Stoke, which prompted an agitated reaction from Magpies fans, are now backing their gaffer as they ended West Brom’s own impressive run. In Sunday’s game, Newcastle were effective, efficient and well-organised, not allowing West Brom sufficient movement and never looking troubled. After not being able to buy a run, the Magpies steal another victory with resurgent ease.
With just one home league victory in the season so far, West Brom’s form at the Hawthorns is looking a little shaky. But the ship itself has been steadied by Alan Irvine, who has proven his credentials with impressive, no-nonsense performances away from home. The prong of their attack is Saido Berahino, who had a quiet game today, not being allowed to show his verve and swagger in front of a disciplined Newcastle defence. But whilst he still looked a threat, West Brom looked unconvincing at the back. Andre Wisdom has been given a rough time from some of the Baggies faithful of late, and his pedestrian performance on Sunday won’t win him any new followers. Wisdom was playing on the wrong flank, but even so he lacked composure and consistency as he allowed Newcastle to probe and penetrate the final third. When he made strident moves forward, his dallying cost West Brom a slew of decent chances, particularly when he chose to control the ball rather than shoot from Victor Anichebe’s cutback. In Joleon Lescott, Irvine has a player of experience and pedigree, but Wisdom and centre-half Craig Dawson looked tentative.
Newcastle were sublime tactically today, and all the players put in a team performance of hard work and awareness. But it was the pairing of Daryl Janmatt and Ayoze Perez that really flourished, both proving real handfuls to the West Brom defence. Roaming down the wing with confident abandon, Janmatt’s perfectly lifted cross gave captain Fabricio Coloccini no option but to cushion it into the net. He was at the core of everything good that Newcastle did well, balancing his attacking and defensive duties beautifully. Not only that, but what a swoop Perez has been. Signed from Segunda side Tenerife for a snip at just over £1m, he has proven he is worth more. After helping the Magpies secure their fourth victory on the spin at Liverpool, he was at it again on Sunday. His audacious back-heel flick sending the away fans in rapture and helping Newcastle move up to seventh. If Pardew can keep the pairing fit and firing, they’ll have a deadly duo on their hands.
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