Alan Pardew: Part of Newcastle United’s problem

Never in the world of football has a manager split a fan base as widely as Alan Pardew. Most supporters either hate or love their manager.

Never in the world of football has a manager split a fan base as widely as Alan Pardew. Most supporters either hate or love their manager. The Hammers don’t really like Big Sam, Chelsea’s following love Jose Mourinho and most Manchester United fans are willing to give David Moyes some more time.  

By most I mean 80 per cent or 90 per cent.  

But at St James Park, Alan Pardew has miraculously divided opinion down the middle, arguably in a 50/50 split. There are half who feel that the 52-year-old is doing a fantastic job and doesn’t deserve the criticism he often gets, after all he’s doing the best of a bad situation.

This 50 per cent of supporters feel that Pardew is a very capable manager, he showed that by guiding Newcastle United to a fifth place finish a couple of seasons back and progress has only been limited due to a tight fisted owner.  

The other half acknowledge the tight-fister owner but feel that Pardew is not an innocent bystander in the mess that has engulfed the club. Yes, you can blame Mike Ashley and the now gone Joe Kinnear for not bringing in placements and selling Yohan Cabaye but for these supporters, some blame must lie at the door of Pardew for the mistakes on the pitch: something his apologists overlook.

Me? Anyone who knows me knows I’m part of the latter group and if you’re expecting some sort of defence of Pardew then you may as well click away now because you’re not going to get it.

Arrogant Attitude

To put it frankly, Alan Pardew is part of the problem at St James Park: he’s not a victim like the poor sods who filter in and out every match day. For all that goes on above his head, it is Pardew’s job to get it right on the pitch and time and time again he’s proven that he just can’t do it.

The squad is lacking depth and creativity but it is a squad that should be capable of beating West Brom and Hull City. It is a squad that should be taking the game to anyone of the teams outside the current top 9 and beating them.

Yet this season alone Pardew has oversaw defeats to Hull City, West Brom, Swansea City, and Sunderland while performances have hardly been brilliant against the likes of Cardiff City, Norwich City or Aston Villa: all games where victory was a lot harder than it should have been.

And yet these poor performances seem to be forgotten by many, especially after victories against Spurs, Chelsea and Manchester United. While they were fantastic victories and admittedly Pardew’s got his tactics right against both Chelsea and Manchester United, they should not be enough to brush his alarming lack of managerial skills under the carpet.

It seems that every time Pardew beats a top team, and it has happened more often enough, his concentration slips and his focus no longer becomes about the team but about him. It becomes the Pardew Show; look how great I am.

The arrogance of the man, (which is in abundance as it is) sky rockets and he’s always brought down to earth with a thunderous thump. It seems that he gets complacent, he thinks a couple of wins against the big boys makes him Brian Clough—it doesn’t.

Cloughy himself would tell you that the right to be arrogant has to be earned and that it takes a lot more than a couple of victories to earn it.

That complacency and arrogance clearly affects the team: go through November unbeaten and then get thrashed 3-0 by Swansea for what was only their second home victory of the season. Put in a brilliant performance against Arsenal on Boxing Day and then deservedly get beaten on New Year’s Day at West Brom.

The pattern is continuous, that is when Pardew isn’t leading the Magpies on a dreadful run of results, its currently one win in the last eight games. It’s Pardew’s responsibility to keep the players grounded after beating the big guns but how can he do that, if he himself is so arrogant it makes Lord Flasheart from Blackadder look relatively modest.

Poor record in the Tyne Wear Derby

Next is the failure in the Tyne Wear Derby, one win in seven attempts in simply unacceptable. Yet all Mr Pardew can do is blame everyone else but himself: it’s never his fault. His apologists blame the language barrier—too many Frenchman in the team, they just don’t get the importance of the rivalry.

Funnily enough, there were four Englishman in the starting eleven plus Tim Krul who has been at Newcastle United since he was 16—there were only three frenchmen. The French invasion of Tyneside is not to blame for the three successive derby defeats to Sunderland, nor are those players to blame Alan Pardew’s record of one win in seven derby attempts: Pardew is.

Yes, the players need a kick up the arse but the lack of passion and commitment not just in the derby games but of late in general all comes down to one common factor: Pardew.

Is it not the manager’s responsibility to motivate their staff? To get the blood pumping and make sure that the performance is the best it can possibly be? If like some claim, the players don’t get the importance of the Tyne Wear Derby, then whose fault is that? If any other normal work place – your manager would be responsible for making sure you know your duties and the importance of your role and if eleven of the team didn’t respond, not just once but numerous of times then perhaps the manager isn’t doing or saying the right things.

And maybe there is the biggest problem? Alan Pardew has over six years to go on a contract, he looks from all angles unsackable. This means he isn’t accountable for his mistakes and this fact isn’t good for the playing staff.

The players simply see a man acting on so called past glories (an FA Cup final and a Football League Trophy) who no matter what he does will still be here in the morning. With most teams, if the manager is having a bad run – there is usually a few players who will be happy to see him go but if the players see Pardew’s position as secure no matter what he does maybe they’re asking the question: what’s the point?

For a football club to be successful, there has to be some sort of accountability for both players and manager – maybe Pardew’s 8 year contract removes the incentive? But then maybe Pardew is on his last legs, his press conference after the Sunderland game certainly showed a man ready to explode but of course he didn’t—he toed the party line.

Then when Joe Kinnear was sacked he claimed ‘Joe did some good work here’ – Tyneside is still waiting for an example of just what that was.  

And yet, it is a question of how much Pardew says is actually force fed? Because he says some stupid things. He’s onto blaming injuries for one win in eight games – of which six of them Newcastle United had and all but first eleven.

But the best excuse of late? Losing Loic Remy ‘the man with the goals’ was a huge part of the reason Newcastle United lost against Sunderland. Remy has scored three in eleven games. But that will be another problem that isn’t Pardew’s fault, right?

The Beginning of the End?

The biggest problem with Pardew? There are too many, inept tactician, his effect on players (think Papiss Cisse), his arrogance, his attitude towards the fans (‘we need you out in full numbers’, not like they fill the ground out every week is it Alan?) and his excuses. The man is not a victim, he’s a very prominent part of the problem.

Who would come in and work with such an owner as Mike Ashley is the right question, but assuming he doesn’t sell the club (there are some signs he might do sooner rather than later) that question may be answered in the summer. Despite an average performance and sacking from Swansea City, Michael Laudrup is available and his style of play would please not just the fans but also the players.

Others such as Marco van Basten, who has announced he will leave Heerenveen at the end of the season would also be an interesting choice, and would fit in well the imminent set up at St James Park that looks to include a Director of Football.

With a good manager at the helm, Newcastle United would get consistency: they’d win the games expected too and for the first time in 6 attempts put on a good performance against Sunderland. With Pardew, the squad will continue to go back and it’s a shame, the spine and this is even with Yohan Cabaye’s departure is decent.

Remove Mike Ashley and Joe Kinnear from the picture, then you are left with Parew – a man who knows he won’t get a bigger job than this one, but a man who shouldn’t be anywhere near a club like this. Don’t be drawn in by his constant excuses, look beyond the blind loyalty card and look at the reality: Pardew isn’t good enough for Newcastle United.

What do you think the future holds for Newcastle United? Have your say in the comments section below.

Image: Getty images