ALAN Pardew’s looking for Newcastle United to take control in midfield – starting against Swansea City.
Pardew’s side face the Swans at St James’s Park tomorrow determined to get back to winning ways.
For the most part this season, Pardew has adopted a 4-4-2 formation in the Premier League.
And fans have been questioning why the 4-3-3 system used so successfully last term has not been adopted.
By Pardew’s own admission, 10th-placed Newcastle – beaten 1-0 at home by West Ham United last weekend – have struggled for “fluency” going forward.
The injuries and suspensions which have deprived Pardew of first-choice central midfielders Yohan Cabaye and Cheik Tiote haven’t helped.
Cabaye will miss the Swansea game because of a groin injury, while Tiote returns from a three-game ban.
“Last year, we coped no problem with having two in midfield,” Pardew told the Gazette. “We could play two strikers.
“Sometimes we asked one of the strikers to defend the full-back when the opposition had possession.
“The problem is that the fluency of our game comes through the midfield.
“We need to make sure against Swansea that we don’t get bossed in that area.
“I think the concern that the fans have is the same as what I have.
“That’s not something that is lost on me. We controlled games in the second half of last season with much more authority than we are at the minute.
“That’s what we are trying to get. The Europa League’s meant we’ve swapped from system to system. That might be an issue. All those questions, trust me, me and my staff have gone through as much as the fans have.
“Nobody is more frustrated than me. Do you think I wanted to lose to West Ham?
“Last season we coped with three central midfielders with Cheik (Tiote) and (Yohan) Cabaye.
“And quite rightly because they are world-class players.
“This year though, the midfield is an area where we haven’t controlled it.
“We’re having a good look in there.”
Another issue for Pardew – whose team haven’t won by more than a one-goal margin in the league this season – is a lack of success from set-pieces.
“We’re constantly looking at it to improve our threat from set plays,” added Pardew.
“We need to win the first contact – it’s something we struggle to do.
“It’s important to win the first contact, because it might give you the second goal or third goal in a game to give you breathing space to see out a win.
“I think at the moment all of our wins have been one-goal winning margins.
“We’ve had no breathing space – we’ve had to claw over the line.
“All of those issues are understandable for our fans to be concerned about.”