Newcastle’s corners still an absolute joke & proving toxic

Words by Kevin Doocey on .

Hatem Ben Arfa gets ready to take a corner for NUFC

It is just over a year since I last wrote about Newcastle United's corner woe, and unfortunately I return to lament the sheer lack of strategy at the club when it comes to the set-piece situation. The last corner that I can remember us directly scoring from was Loic Rémy's 3rd minute opener against Hull City at St. James’ Park back in September. Yohan Cabaye whipped in an enticing ball from the left hand corner-side which found its way through to Loic who slotted home as easy as you like. Since then quite a few things have happened, and the majority of them aren't something to jump up and down about. Yohan Cabaye was sold, Joe Kinnear resigned and in between all that Newcastle United suffered some humiliating defeats. However, I'm not here to bemoan our lack of form/direction as a football club, but rather, focus on one the most elementary aspects of the game that is football.

What improvements have NUFC made with corners?

Sadly, they have gone in reverse. There were moments of hope in early 2013 with Cabaye on corner duties - both against Braga pre-season and indeed Hull as mentioned earlier. However since the Frenchman departed for shores anew, Alan Pardew and his coaching staff have deemed it necessary to assign opposite footed players to the respective right and left-sided corners.

In simple terms - Pardew has deployed out-swinging corners, a technique suited to a team that has powerful centre-backs with the energy and drive to attack each and every corner. John Terry is an example of such a defender, as is his teammate Branislav Ivanovic. Does Mike Williamson or Fabricio Coloccini strike you as like-minded defenders? I'll leave that one to you.

Anyway, Paul Dummett has in recent games been assigned to corners on the left, and Vurnon Anita on the right. Absolutely disastrous.

Dummett can cross the ball for sure, but out-swinging corners are not for him, nor do they in any way, shape or form suit Vurnon Anita. Each and every time a corner is ‘whipped’, morelike lofted into the opposition box, it is easily cleared away.

Didn't Alan Pardew say he was recruiting a corners coach in the summer?

I'm almost certain that Pardew spoke live on radio about recruiting a coach to improve their efforts from corners for the forthcoming season. Either way, it's a joke regardless of whether we did hire one. If he was hired, what kind of coach has them setup the way they are at the minute?! On the flip-side, if we didn't recruit one, did Alan Pardew just spout more nonsense?

The most worrying problem with our corners:

We put so many players in the opposition box for corners that when inevitably the ball is cleared, any team with considerable pace in their side counter-attack and end up testing Tim Krul in the Newcastle goals. Within 30 seconds of posing an attacking threat of our own, teams go through our final line of defence like a knife through butter and are presented with a scoring opportunity. That is very worrying indeed.

A prime example of both aspects of our corner routine at the minute can be summed up with Ross Barkley's excellent strike against us a month back. Southampton also caused us grief on the break a few weeks ago.

It's a matter that has been annoying me for a solid year and sadly no improvements have been made. With a defender the size of Mike Williamson we should at least be causing havoc in the opposition area. However, that won't happen with out-swinging corners - mark my words. In-swinging corners are crucial in helping generate power for headers and also naturally flowing with the run of one of our players.

Hatem Ben Arfa, Sylvain Marveaux, Dan Gosling, and Anita (from left-hand side) are all suitable corner takers, but please can Alan Pardew see that the current system is a shambles. It's time to change, let the corners just be the start..

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