Newcastle United Must Avoid Big Brother Moment and Keep Faith with Alan Pardew
That’s not a dig at Joe Kinnear, but it could easily be.
From the day Magpies owner Mike Ashley parachuted Kinnear into the role of director of football, Pardew has been swimming against the tide.
It was only two seasons ago that Pardew, with the nucleus of the squad he still has at his disposal, took Newcastle to the brink of Champions League qualification with a fifth-placed finish in the Premier League.
In finishing fifth, Newcastle were punching above their weight. Last season saw them put on a decent imitation of a boxer fighting with a broken hand, as they only narrowly avoided relegation.
It was hoped by the majority of Newcastle fans that last season would be the wake-up call to Ashley that Pardew needed to be handed investment to boost his ranks.
The only investment, aside from the loan capture of Loic Remy, was the return of Kinnear.
During his time as manager of the club from 2008 to 2009, Kinnear did little to endear himself to the Toon Army.
In fairness, Kinnear was always on the back foot as he was the man brought in to replace Magpies legend Kevin Keegan. But he did not endear himself to the Newcastle public or the media when he launched into a foul-mouthed tirade at a press conference.
When Pardew arrived as the replacement for the hugely popular Chris Hughton in December 2010, he faced a similar reaction to the one that greeted Kinnear. But he won the fans over, and did not tee off at journalists, with 12th- and fifth-placed finishes in the Premier League.
Newcastle lurched backwards last term, and the early signs from the opening weeks of the current campaign suggest it could be another tough season.
The defeat at Everton summed up Newcastle of late, as it was a Jekyll and Hyde display.
The second-half rally took the Magpies within touching distance of snatching a point. But that rally cannot mask the dire opening 45 minutes.
Pardew can do everything at his disposal on the training ground.
He can work tirelessly with his players on tactics and drills.
But he is powerless when the players go out on the pitch and serve up the comedy defending that allowed Romelu Lukaku to score his second goal and put Everton 3-0 ahead.
As central defenders, you are taught to attack the ball in the air. If both Fabricio Coloccini and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa elect to let a long clearance bounce, thus handing the initiative to the powerful presence of Lukaku, all Pardew can do is look on from the sidelines in bewilderment. And make a mental note to ensure it does not happen again.
It was a moment that encapsulated Newcastle. Quite simply, it was chaotic. And that is how Newcastle appear at the moment.
The sense of chaos was amplified this week by rumours that Pardew had been axed.
As reported by Colin Young of the Mail, social media was flooded with talk of Pardew’s exit.
I agree with Alan Pardew that Social media rumours are not helping.— NUFC FANS MALTA BLOG (@NUFC_FANS_MALTA) October 4, 2013
The manager came out and denied the suggestions, saying his post-game meeting with Ashley and Kinnear was entirely normal.
It is important (to) go and see the owner after a game and make sure we know where we are going from. We had a good meeting so we know what is going on on the pitch in terms of results so there was nothing untoward.
Pardew also made the sensible, albeit obvious, point that the best way to stop the speculation is to win games.
To do that, the manager needs to be given the confidence from above to be allowed time to work with the players to eke out every ounce of quality that they have.
If Newcastle can deliver football like they produced in the second half at Goodison Park, wins will come—and the pressure will ease. If there’s a repeat of the first-half calamity, Pardew will have every reason to look over his shoulder.
Newcastle owner Ashley has to hold his nerve and keep faith with Pardew—and hand him money to spend in January.
The alternative does not bear thinking about, as removing Pardew could result in Kinnear being thrust into the managerial spotlight.
It might provide entertainment and shock factor. But that sort of entertainment and shock factor belongs in the Big Brother house, not a football club.
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