In a genuinely ludicrous decision, the FA have decided not to apply any sort of retroactive punishment on Callum McManaman for his tackle on Haidara at the weekend.
Television replays showed the horror nature of the lunge, with Haidara being struck on the knee by the studs of the Wigan youngster.
Replays also showed that referee Mark Halsey’s view was impeded by distance and another player, and therefore the assumption was that the FA would punish the player after the event. It was assumed Halsey hadn’t seen the tackle clearly. It has since been revealed the FA couldn’t punish McManaman as one of the match officials had seen the tackle, but not the full extent of it.
Whilst Wigan chairman Dave Whelan described the tackle as “clean as a whistle”, the response elsewhere has been completely different, and many have seen Whelan’s comments as farcical.
With the FA not punishing McManaman retroactively, questions have to be asked of Halsey, who has made a string of poor decisions since his return from illness last season. His placement for the lunge was questionable, his view impeded by another player. His officiating team also do not come out of the affair scot free.
The past summer for Newcastle is symbolic of the issue with resting on one’s laurels when it comes to the transfer market. Newcastle achieved great things last season, constantly challenging for the Champions League places, but in doing so revealed what their strengths and weaknesses were. The reality was always that without recruitment to improve on the first-team set-up, they would never replicate last season. It was inevitable that they would not suffer another relatively injury free campaign like before, especially not with the added impact of Europa League fixtures on a thin squad.
It is not usual, however, to be granted the opportunity to examine a weakened and strengthened squad in the same season, with little by way of variables aside from that. The coaching staff remains the same, the system remains relatively similar and the situation around the club is as it was before. The only difference now is the huge amount of recruitment in the January window, and the improvements they have added to the team itself.
The results have been dramatic. Where before Newcastle could not buy a win, they have since gone on to win several on the bounce, including imperative relegation scraps such as Aston Villa away. They have gone on to prove what I had suspected all along, that it was not the fault of the manager but merely the players at his disposal. The rest of the league improved this summer but Newcastle stagnated. The rest of the league stagnated in January but Newcastle improver their playing staff. Pardew deserves credit for how he has set up recruits one suspects he may have preferred to have had 6 months ago.
Obviously this season will likely end in a damp squib, with a mid-table finish the likely and hoped for result. However, given the recruitment policy in January, the club could have heeded the lesson and realised that constant development of who is available is required. Continuity is good, but where severe cracks exist, they cannot merely be papered over. If you feel you can improve, and it is within budget, you should. That is the nature of modern football, and if Mike Ashley understands this and backs the recruitment side of his club enough, he has an effective manager able to carry Newcastle to the heights the city deserves.
Follow Amitai Winehouse on Twitter (@awinehouse1).
Supposed Newcastle target Loic Remy has turned down a move to Harry Redknapp’s QPR report L’equipe’s in-house television channel.
L’equipe are now reporting that Schalke and Dortmund are the favourites to sign the French star.
What this all means for Newcastle, who were believed to be working towards a transfer deal for him, remains to be seen.