Papiss Cisse makes timely Toon return to save skin of Alan Pardew
What is it about Newcastle United and the attempt to seemingly make everything on Tyneside into a soap opera?
Move over Geordie Shore and Byker Grove, the city’s football club has more manufactured storylines, twists and turns than the best TV scriptwriters could dream up.
Step forward Papiss Cisse, thrust into the spotlight as Magpies messiah after a five-month absence with the unenviable injury of a broken kneecap. The Senegal striker had scored twice in his last 30 outings in front of the Toon Army, but bagged a brace as an impact substitute to take a point from a home game with Hull City to ease the hysterical pressure on Alan Pardew.
His words, or paraphrasing an accusation he faced “mass hysteria” anyway, you understand. Yet, there was a sea change in tone from the under-fire Magpies manager, who still has the best part of six years left on his contract.
“I have to say 80 per cent of the crowd were terrific,” Pardew noted in his post-match interview after the 2-2 with the Tigers. St James’ Park is a bigger goldfish than most, but if four-fifths of the passionate Geordies packed in were creating an atmosphere which drew praise from Newcastle’s boss, then his earlier comments seem misguided.
Local media has to shoulder some responsibility for the frenzy whipped up in recent weeks. Voicing what seems to be the, albeit substantial, minority of supporters’ feelings, they have consistently attacked owner Mike Ashley and moved on to Pardew.
The way some sections of fans carry on, you’d think Sir John Hall and Freddy Shepherd, who fronted the previous Magpies ownership, were saints. Memories are funny things.
What we are seeing seems to be one of the longer story arcs, which started with Pardew’s appointment in December 2010 on a five-and-a-half-year deal. This was later extended in 2012, so he is under contract until 2020, but this was all Ashley’s doing.
Shortly after his appointment, hometown hero Andy Carroll was sold for £35m. It was great money to get from Liverpool, but that link between fans and the field of play itself seemed severed, and has remained so ever since.
In the target man’s stead have come a French connection, which included gems like playmaker Yohan Cabaye and Senegal striker Demba Ba, both of whom were sold. Finishing fifth in 2011/12 earned Pardew that bumper deal, but raised expectations which simply could not be met.
For all the excellent scouting done by Graham Carr and his recruitment staff, there is an element of taking punts on the players brought to Tyneside in recent seasons. None of the major names have Premier League experience, which may explain why other forwards Emmanuel Riviere, Ayoze Perez and the still to be blooded Facundo Ferreyra are yet to open their accounts.
Looking at each available attacker in turn, they are a player kicked to the curb by Monaco because of their major resurgence, an emerging talent that has never played top-flight football until now, and an Argentine that had no desire to return to war-torn Ukraine. This is hardly the stuff that makes a sensational strikeforce overnight.
Siem de Jong’s absence through injury has hampered Newcastle in the final third, though fans should have noted the poor displays put in by brother Luuk when he was on loan last term. We’ll have to wait and see if blood will out.
Replacing the goals of last season’s loan star Loic Remy remains a major issue and, despite that Cisse double earning a draw, Coral have cut odds on the Magpies being relegated to 7/2. Prior to Sunday’s action, only the four teams in and around Newcastle (Burnley, Crystal Palace, QPR and West Bromwich Albion) are rated more likely for the drop.