Gabriel Obertan’s first Premier League goal in 32 months secured a 1-0 victory for Newcastle United over Leicester City to earn Alan Pardew his first league win of the season. Saturday's "triumph" was the first league win for the Mapgies since May 3rd, and only the sixth win in the last 27 matches. Before this odd sensation of “victory” subsides, here are three thoughts on the Newcastle win:
Alan Pardew does have a playing style with his Newcastle team.
One of the many, many darts thrown at the Newcastle manager is that over the course of this tenure at the club, he has failed to impart an identity and playing style. However, Pardew does have elements to his management that could be described as an identity. He loves Moussa Sissoko, he loves a left-back substitution, and he sets up his team to play dull, tedious football.
In the first half of the match against the Foxes, Newcastle enjoyed 59% of the possession and mustered a grand total of one shot on target. This is Pardew’s identity as manager of Newcastle. Lull the opponent (and fans) to sleep with tedious possession football, but don't dare make any attacking moves.
The resurrection of Gabby Obertan’s career is a reflection of Mike Ashley’s transfer policy.
If Newcastle United operated like a real sports team, instead of a marketing arm of Sports Direct, Obertan would have been deemed a bust and sold to Russia, Turkey, or back to France. Unfortunately, this team does not conduct business in a normal manner. A comical lack of investment and corresponding lack of depth has given Obertan another opportunity. The squad has no other healthy wingers at the moment, and Pardew plays a formation that is crying out for some width. Why else would he praise Obertan so profusely to the media? Sadly, he desperately needs what the ex-Man U man can offer. On Saturday, Squidward rewarded the manger’s roll of the dice. But in reality, did Pardew really have any other options?
Steven Taylor played a great game.
Taylor was called into the Newcastle lineup because of an injury to Mike Williamson, and had himself a fine performance. The center back was his usual attention-seeking self on Saturday. But unlike most of his recent displays, he also paired his histrionics with excellent defensive work. Taylor even capped his performance with his customary shot block to the groin.
Like Obertan, the 28 year-old has an opportunity to once again save his Newcastle career because of the lack of depth in the squad. There isn’t a single Toon Army member who trusts that Taylor will keep up this level of play. But if the local boy can add some maturity to his game, he could prove to be the plug in the leaky Newcastle back four.