5 Fun Tactics Newcastle Could Use in Their Remaining 5 Games
Newcastle have lost their last three league games by an aggregate score of 11-0. Saturday's demolition against Manchester United was their fourth 4-0 defeat of the season and the sixth time they've let in three or more goals in 2014.
The problem lies in a lack of consequence for defeat. In recent weeks, the Magpies might have been aware that they can neither be relegated nor win anything. Last week's 4-0 loss to Southampton might have been the most pointless Premier League game of all time, with neither team chasing a trophy or fighting the drop.
The general impression is that the players are already "thinking of their holidays," with a depressing lack of spirit being shown in recent weeks.
Since the players have given up playing football and there's relatively little at stake, here are five fun tactics Newcastle could employ to bring the Geordie faithful some long-awaited entertainment...
Put Mike Ashley Up Front
Alan Pardew started Dan Gosling over Ben Arfa in the Manchester United match, so he is clearly not averse to making curious tactical decisions.
With the club in the midst of an injury crisis, perhaps Pardew should fill the Loic Remy void at the top of his formation with owner Mike Ashley. It would give a whole new meaning to putting the big man up front.
Alternatively, Ashley could bring back Joe Kinnear and throw him into the lineup. No one in world football wants to get near him, so defenders would give him all the space he needs to walk it into the net.
Play 'Monkey Rush'
Tim Krul is likely to be out of action for at least one more game, so Newcastle have the perfect opportunity to play a bit of monkey rush.
(For those who didn't play football in the playground, "monkey rush" is the rule that states the closest player to the goal at any given point becomes the goalkeeper. It's a perfect recipe for attacking football, long-distance lobs and general high jinx.)
They may end up getting a few players sent off for handling in the area while not actually being the named goalkeeper, but they would probably conceded less than 11 goals in the next three games, marking an improvement over the last three.
Play an 11-0-0 Formation
If monkey rush seems a little risque, Newcastle could experiment with keeping the entire team behind the ball at all times.
Whenever the opposition are in possession, they would all line up in the goalmouth to block any incoming shots. Then, once possession is regained, the players would form a single line of 11 players that would move slowly up the pitch.
It would look like one of those lines of police officers sweeping a crime scene looking for evidence. Only a bit more depressing.
Let Fans Take Charge
Alan Pardew has been phoning it in in more ways than one lately, so perhaps he should step aside and let the fans take control of the team lineup.
Most football fans seem to know what their managers should have done differently, so this democratic team selection process would be an interesting social experiment—and something to keep the fans invested during an otherwise lifeless run-in.
Every fan* in attendance at St James' Park would get to vote for the team, the tactics and who gets dropped, like a football version of The X Factor.
*Every fan can vote except the one who punched that horse. He doesn't seem like a good decision-maker.
The problem with Newcastle's staff at the moment is that they lack incentive. Perhaps they could be encouraged into bucking their ideas up with some form of performance-related pay.
If Yoan Gouffran only completes 63 percent of his passes, he gets 63 percent of his salary that week. If Pappis Demba Cisse scores a goal, he gets the missing 37 percent of Gouffran's salary. Fabricio Coloccini gets a Toni & Guy voucher for every goalscoring chance he blocks. And for every game Alan Pardew manages not to headbutt someone, he gets another year added to his ludicrously long contract.