In just 10 days, Alan Pardew morphed from head-butting thug into smooth-talking lawyer—a chameleon act made necessary as the defendant in his case was none other than he, himself.
On Tuesday the Newcastle manager appeared in person before an Independent Regulatory Commission not only to learn his sentence for a March 1 assault on Hull City midfielder David Meyler but also to perhaps talk it down.
It must have been an epic delivery.
With the remainder of his season, and even a portion of the 2014-15 campaign, in jeopardy as a result of his actions at KC Stadium, Pardew nevertheless managed to escape with a seven-match suspension, as per the FA, that will see him return in full capacity away to Arsenal on April 28.
That his punishment could have been much, much worse is glaringly obvious, but to his credit the 52-year-old—with some pre-emptive help from his club—somehow nipped the issue as close to the bud as humanly possible, showing exactly the sort of contrite spirit the Football Association no doubt wanted to see.
No doubt Newcastle’s immediate response to its manager’s head-butt, which it termed “unacceptable” and “disappointing,” aided Pardew in his plight, as did a fine of £100,000 levied before the day was out.
The club also issued a formal warning, and when Pardew entered his guilty plea and requested a personal hearing it was clear he recognised the gravity of the situation, understood his season could be over and was willing to enter the FA chambers on bended knee if it meant a lighter sentence.
It worked. Although the Independent Regulatory Commission would hardly admit to its punishment being soft.
When Pardew misses Saturday’s match against Fulham at Craven Cottage, he will become the first Premier League manager to serve a stadium ban, and he’ll be prevented from entering the ground for subsequent matches against Crystal Palace and Everton as well.
And crucially, he won’t appeal the verdict.
“I will accept the punishment handed down by the FA today,” he told Newcastle’s official website after learning his fate. “My focus now turns to preparing the team for this weekend’s game against Fulham and finishing the season as strongly as possible.”
Realising they were dealing with an extremely cooperative defendant, the governing body might even have anticipated that Pardew would forgo the appeals process, thus adding to the manager’s case for leniency.
In the end, what transpired over the week-and-a-half between the incident and the hearing was a masterful bit of posturing from Pardew and Newcastle.
And while the heavy-justice set will undoubtedly be unsatisfied with Tuesday’s developments, even they won’t be able to deny that, as far as defences go, Pardew plead his case perfectly.