Comment and Analysis
Premier League: Newcastle's defensive resolve that has transformed their season is a lesson to other clubs
Newcastle made it five wins in a row in all competitions and moved into the top half of the Premier League with a 2-0 win at West Brom on Sunday. That success has been built on a new-found defensive resolve and Sarah Winterburn argues that others could learn from Alan Pardew's side...
Last Updated: 09/11/14 4:35pm
As Twitter exploded with amusement and despair at yet more comedic defending from Tottenham after Saturday's lesson from Liverpool in how to spend millions on a defence only to make it even more slovenly than the one before, Newcastle were providing no such tomfoolery at West Brom on Sunday.
A shame in terms of entertainment, perhaps, but a lesson to those now below them in the table that revivals have to start with defensive resolve.
When Alan Pardew refers to his Newcastle side as "one of the most hardworking in the Premier League", it no longer sounds like a joke. With Mehdi Abeid, Jack Colback and Moussa Sissoko in central midfield, a back four sitting deep, happy to make clearance after clearance, two wingers prepared to help their full-backs and a striker willing to toil without the ball in Ayoze Perez, Alan Pardew has developed a system robust enough to be a) difficult to break down and b) relatively immune to injuries, as evidenced by Paul Dummett moving seamlessly from left-back to centre-half.
|Defence||(Last six games)|
Craig Bellamy spoke on Sky Sports before the game about a 'Newcastle way' of playing attacking football but the pressure on Pardew early this season demanded a return to the tactics they adopted so successfully last November, when Cheick Tiote and Yohan Cabaye were Sissoko's midfield partners in a system that beat Chelsea and Tottenham in quick succession. Sit deep, sacrifice the ball and trust that counter-attacking speed and moments of genius will bring you more victories than draws.
Hence, it was only the tenth touch of Perez - and his first inside the West Brom box - that brought Newcastle's opening goal in the dying moments of the first half. It was exquisite and their first attempt on target; their second through Fabricio Coloccini made it 2-0. The sight of two Newcastle players closing down Baggies full-back Andre Wisdom in the 83rd minute spoke volumes - this is a Newcastle side that is clearly doing that dullest of football cliches: Working hard on the training ground.
Spanish Under-21 striker Perez claims that he had interest from Barcelona and Real Madrid this summer but opted to join Newcastle because they displayed more desire; that same attitude is yielding high dividends on the pitch too. More-vaunted players and managers might be advised to take note.
A version of this article originally appeared on Football365