Pardew sure he’s the man for the job?

After a roundly unsuccessful first half of the season for Newcastle United, assesses whether manager Alan Pardew is right for the job

Things are not going well for Alan Pardew. Image: danae47 via flickr Creative Commons

Things are not going well for Alan Pardew. Image: danae47 via flickr Creative Commons

Brighton 2 Newcastle 0. On its own this may be insufficient evidence of Alan Pardew’s failings, but it goes a long way in characterising a tenure of underachievement. To the uninformed southerner I’m sure it would seem heresy to dare question the accomplishments of a man who just nine months ago oversaw a top five finish and led Newcastle into Europe for the first time since 2007, but this would be ignoring the barefaced unacceptability of the same side’s current season.

You don’t get anywhere in football with knee-jerk decisions and I’m definitely not one to judge a manager by his last game. But I am one to judge him by his last 16. And for Alan Pardew this means just two wins, three draws and a jarring 11 defeats in all competitions – a deplorable record that has equalled the club’s longest losing streak in the premier league and culminated in an FA Cup exit to lower league opposition for the third successive season.

In fact, in the scheme of things, Alan Pardew has done a very bad job at Newcastle. In 97 games in charge, he has lost 35, just one less than he has won. He has not managed to get further than the third stage of any cup competition, and only finished in the top half once. Of all Newcastle’s permanent managers since 1992, he has the third lowest win percentage, above only Ruud Gullit who even then got Newcastle to an FA Cup final, and Sam Allardyce who found his team four league positions higher than Pardew’s are now.

Pictured: Yohan Cabaye, Newcastle have missed key players this season. Image: mikebrown59 via flickr Creative Commons

Newcastle have missed key players like Yohan Cabaye this season. Image: mikebrown59 via flickr Creative Commons

With long term injuries to key players such as Hatem Ben Arfa and Yohan Cabaye, perhaps some fallout was to be expected, but certainly not to this extent. Even if fifth was an overachievement last season, seventh was not an unreasonable target at the start of this one. Regardless of injuries, Newcastle should not be anywhere near the relegation zone or travelling to Norwich as underdogs.

In any case, Pardew’s selection predicament is partly his own doing. With the pressures of Thursday/Sunday fixtures confirmed by Stoke City’s performance last season, the need to bolster the team was obvious, yet Newcastle’s unwillingness to invest appropriately has exposed a decidedly shallow squad. Granted, keeping hold of the likes of Ben Arfa and Cabaye was a coup in itself, but for this short-lived placate, Newcastle have failed to cope with the setbacks of this campaign.

What is more, the few players that Pardew did sign in the summer, save for the revelatory Gaël Bigirimana, have been largely ineffective. Vurnon Anita, who cost twice as much as the departing Danny Guthrie, is about half as good, while Romain Amalfitano, an unknown signed from the lower divisions of French football, is yet to make a premier league appearance.

While Pardew should not shoulder all the responsibility for transfer policy at Newcastle, he has done little to invalidate his reputation as Mike Ashley’s Yes Man. The board’s reluctance to spend is built on a misguided complacency from last year’s budget success, but it should have been noted that this cannot happen every season; Pardew’s failure to fight for funds has played no small part in dissolving the faith among Newcastle fans, nor have his tactics.

Pardew’s persistence in an unproductive partnership up front, his decision to play the right footed Davide Santon at left back, his decision to play Mike Williamson at all, and the abandonment of last season’s successful 4-3-3 formation in favour of the outdated 4-4-2 have all contributed to Newcastle’s demise.

Sir Bobby Robson was sacked after three successive seasons of European football. Image: PiggBox via flickr Creative Commons

Sir Bobby Robson was sacked after three successive seasons of European football. Image: PiggBox via flickr Creative Commons

In criticising their manager, Newcastle fans should not be charged with ingratitude or over-expectancy. While the top five finish last season was the club’s best in eight years, it is not enough of a novelty to provide Pardew with his own pedestal. Newcastle managers before him have achieved far more and been dismissed for far less. Kevin Keegan oversaw three title challenges, Bobby Robson secured Champions League appearances in successive seasons, and Glenn Roeder delivered European football with Titus Bramble in the side. Pardew’s fifth-placed finish, though undoubtedly impressive, was achieved with arguably Newcastle’s best team since “The Entertainers” and sandwiched between what looks to be two mid table seasons, while his reign has not seen one consolatory cup run.

As for the accusations of delusion, it should not be overlooked that this “wee club from the North East” boasts the eighth highest trophy total in English football and third biggest stadium (excluding Wembley). Newcastle might not be as big as they once were, but they are not as small as their manager is currently delivering.

The fans’ and indeed Mike Ashley’s faith in Pardew has been demonstrably misplaced. And while the eight-year deal might have marked a laudable shift in the club’s philosophy, an attempt at stability as opposed to the gung-ho economics of Freddy Shepherd, I fear there is nothing to be gained from persisting with mediocrity.

An unenviable win percentage, fifth to fifteenth in less than a year, being below Sunderland in the league without a cup run to compensate, his failure to secure a new deal for Demba Ba, tactical transparency, pushing a linesman and shameless arrogance in spite of all this are more than enough to justify a parting of the ways for Pardew and a job he was never right for.

8 comments

  1. Cowen-esque pun. Nice

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  2. 12 Jan ’13 at 2:30 pm

    The Ghost of Keegan's Past

    The memories of Keegan still haunt this club. They will not challenge for the title in the foreseeable future. That said, Alan Pardew is underachieving. Newcastle should be vying for Europa League.

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  3. 12 Jan ’13 at 2:46 pm

    Newcastle fan

    Agree with pretty much every word of this. Considering we sold Carroll for £35 million, it’s crazy there isn’t more funding available for transfers. With Colloccini likely on his way out too, I fear for relegation. Also, the author might be interested to know (or already know) that Newcastle has the highest long ball percentage in the league this season. We’re playing seriously ugly football and not getting any sort of results from it. We should have £20 million to spend this January, just going from who we’ve sold and who we’ve bought in the last few years. If we don’t buy a new centre back and a new striker, I don’t see how we’re going to reach 40 points.

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  4. This article makes some good points but seems a little harsh. There are lots of things that are out of Pardew’s control and in the hands or the board and Mr Ashley.

    You ask for a cup run, the Euro League may yet deliver. Going out of the FA Cup last weekend was not a shock (especially not with the team fielded) and if anything may have been deliberate to focus more back on the Premier League.

    In terms of the £35 million, it has been spent. Have a look and it pretty much adds up. If you think we got anything more than even £5 million from the Ba deal then you’re having a laugh, and buying in January is never cheap. With the upfront payment policy and having to compete with other clubs offering better deals, it is a credit to the board that we got Debuchy across the line and (depending on who you believe) may soon get Remy.

    Injuries have cost and the clear out last summer was certainly ill advised but, at the moment, I’d say give Pardew more time. And hope that he stops trying to play long balls to Williamson from set pieces…

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  5. I agree more with the author but the Newcastle fans do make some good points. Should he sign, Remy may be the Toons’ saving grace this season. Injuries don’t help. They’ll miss Colochini. Williamson should go back to Watford. The fans deserve more.

    Also, I see there’s a closing down sale on at Sports Direct…

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  6. Alan Pardew has finished in the top half of the premier league TWICE in his career. Only one more than Paul Jewell. He is not a manager of pedigree, quality or reputation. He is an average manager, at best – a mid table pretender that is well out of his depth.

    The article is not harsh. It highlights barefaced facts. His win percentage is laughable, his cup runs are non-existent.

    The board are to blame AS WELL, but Pardew cannot be spared his share of the criticism. He is a Yes Man, willing to roll over and let the board walk all over him.

    All this season does is prove that Keegan was right. To make money, you first have to spend it. Newcastle will go nowhere so long as Ashley and Llambias insist on budget expenditure. The ambition is there, but the commitment is not.

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  7. 15 Jan ’13 at 11:48 am

    Pardew's solicitor

    There’s no way Alan Pardew is going to be sacked with another 6 and a half years left on his contract. The potential compensation payout would make even Peter Reid blush.

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  8. Pardew’s payout is only one year – there is a clause which has been publicized, albeit passively, as people tend to be unable to turn away from the largesse of the contract itself

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