Pre match Narrative
Let’s be honest here, folks. There is no point in a tactical breakidown for this match. The 22 players on the field are a mere backdrop to the 52,000 in the stands. Not since all the presents were stolen from Whoville has a town been so angry with one man.
For his part, Alan Pardew has already thrown lighter fluid on the bonfire that awaits him Saturday. He was quoted on the official Twitter page as saying, “the environment for the players on Saturday will probably be as tough as it’s been. I don’t fear the game, but Hull are a good side. We have to show that our spirit is strong, and I think we will do that.”
The last time the manager faced protests at St. James' Park, his side defeated a soon-to-be-relegated Cardiff City 3-0. The three points did not prevent walkouts at the 60th and 69th minutes, but it prevented the atmosphere from reaching DEFCON-1. This time around, the bile that will be hurled toward the manager by the black and white army will make the Cardiff protests look like a victory parade.
Adding to the toxic brew is the return of Hatem Ben Arfa, at least in a spiritual sense. He can't take the field for Hull, and whether he'll be in town at all is a bit of a mystery. But you better believe that he'll be on the minds of the masses at SJP tomorrow. And each time his name is sung, just like it was at Southampton last week, it's one more jab at a manager whose time at the club should have already expired.
How Pardew can screw this up
Showing up and taking his seat in the technical area.
The performance away at Southampton was completely devoid of spirit, emotion, or energy. Pardew stared forlornly onto the St. Mary’s pitch knowing his days were numbered. Based on the effort against Southampton, the players have stopped playing for their manager. Yet there Pardew will be tomorrow, no doubt sulking on the bench because of the vitriol aimed his way. Mike Ashley’s reluctance to end this charade will cost this club once again. How many losses is he willing to endure before pulling the trigger?
Potential Chronicle headline
No matter the outcome against Hull City, the attention and spotlight after the match will be focused on the manager. It will be an explosive environment at St. James' Park, no matter the final result. In victory or defeat, the message will be clear: Pardew must go.
The players will have to block out the waves of protest, as they did against Cardiff last season, to deliver a result against a team they should very well handle. The Magpies have an extra day of rest and preparation to deal with a Hull team that is vulnerable on defense. The Tigers can be beaten, but can Newcastle finally create that elusive goal? Whatever happens on the pitch, the headline for Sunday’s paper will read:
Mutiny at the manager: Pardew hears it from venomous Geordie faithful