Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Give the Front Men a Chance to Get Goals in St Mary's Test; Strikers Must Be Given the Chance to Show What They Can Do, Says MARK DOUGLAS

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Give the Front Men a Chance to Get Goals in St Mary's Test; Strikers Must Be Given the Chance to Show What They Can Do, Says MARK DOUGLAS

Article excerpt

Byline: MARK DOUGLAS

IF Newcastle United delivered a more feckless away day display last season than the one they served up at St Mary's, it doesn't bear thinking about. Sure, Sunderland was painful. Arsenal at the Emirates was not a day to remember either. But for sheer surrender, the trip to Southampton takes some beating. It is worth remembering, too, that the two worst performers on that day were Hatem Ben Arfa and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, who was deployed in an unfamiliar right-back slot and sunk without a trace on the South Coast.

You might suggest that it was there that the final nail was hammered into their respective coffins. Both are gone now but Alan Pardew's hoped-for new era has not quite taken off. While neither Ben Arfa nor Yanga-Mbiwa were likely to start many matches at the start of the season, their departures have been a lightening conductor for early criticism of the manager's methods. It probably says more about Pardew's unpopularity than it does about their relaitve merits that we are so prepared to indulge that criticism but the fact is the dual departures of two fringe men haven't changed that much. Pardew still has two massive problems to solve - scoring and defending. To be precise, the United manager needs to get his front men into more dangerous positions and his defenders playing more effectively than they did on Saturday, a day when Crystal Palace scored three goals which might have been prevented. They did score three times but none came from forward-thinking players who are likely to start games. So the answer seems simple: whatever the risks, Rolando Aarons must start when the team make the long trek to the South Coast.

The argument against is that he's more effective off the bench but he has earned it. Moussa Sissoko might be the man to pay the price, too, with his continued presence in the first XI difficult to justify when he offers not-a-heck-of-a-lot playing on the right of midfield. There are bigger problems, of course. …

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