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Newcastle need to sharpen edge to save precarious Pardew from sack

When the supporters’ trust believe you have “lost all credibility with the fans”, it’s fair to say Alan Pardew is under immense pressure at Newcastle United.

Banners calling for his head were spotted in the crowd as the Toon Army travelled the length of England to watch a dismal 4-0 defeat at Southampton. That resulted in Coral cutting the Magpies’ odds for relegation in half to 9/2 as they now occupy the Premier League basement.

Controversial Newcastle owner Mike Ashley, who handed Pardew an unprecedented eight-year contract in 2012, has given his backing, though if he does decide to subsequently sack the Magpies manager then it will cost him. Tabloid reports last year suggested if Pardew was to get his cards, then Ashley would have to fork out as much as £10m in severance pay and compensation.

Some comments from the Newcastle supporters’ trust, however deep their grievances and long-suffering fans may be, are wide of the mark, though. “One of the reasons why Pardew is so unpopular is he simply does what he is told,” said trust chairman Norman Watson.

Headbutting opposition players, and incurring a resultant stadium and touchline ban, certainly doesn’t tally with that. It would be more accurate to complain about the toothless Toon attack, despite recruitment aplenty up front over the summer.

In 23 Premier League matches played in the calendar year of 2014 so far, the Magpies have drawn a blank on 15 occasions. That’s 65 per cent of the time, or in other words there’s been a failure to score in almost two-thirds of games.

Newcastle supporters have seen the net bulge just 17 times since New Year’s Day, so that averages out at less than a goal per game. Shola Ameobi, Yohan Cabaye and Loic Remy, who have all left St James’ Park, contributed eight of those. Take injured frontman Papiss Cisse’s contribution out, plus an own goal, and that leaves just seven scored.

Facundo Ferreyra, injured vice-captain Siem de Jong, Ayoze Perez and Emmnauel Riviere are all waiting to break their Toon ducks, meaning utility players Vurnon Anita and Moussa Sissoko, defenders Daryl Janmaat, Steven Taylor and Mike Williamson, and young winger Rolando Aarons account for other goals.

This dearth in the Magpies frontline alone explains a paltry return of 20 points from 69 available on offer since the turn of the year. When your team isn’t even averaging the equivalent of a draw per game, then it’s no wonder others are linked with replacing Pardew.

Addressing this slide is the only way to save his skin. Pardew needs to get a grip on his forwards, advise them to exercise some calm in the final third and abandon the shoot on sight policy, particularly exhibited by former Monaco frontman Riviere. If he cannot turn things around, then fans’ resentment of both him and Ashley will hang thicker in the air than fog on the Tyne.