Pardew Appointed: Aren’t jokes supposed to be funny?

Posted: December 11, 2010 in Blogs
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Several managers were linked with replacing Chris Hughton after the amiable Irishman was ridiculously sacked at the start of the week. However, despite the coincidental availability of Hughton’s ex-boss Martin Jol brought about by his resignation from Ajax just hours after Hughton’s departure on Monday and betting on Martin O’Neill and Jurgen Klinsmann bringing their odds down dramatically, in reality only one man was ever going to get the job. Thursday morning saw the club officially announce what had already become public knowledge some 24 hours previously. Former Reading, West Ham, Charlton and Southampton manager Alan Pardew was installed as NUFC’s new boss on an unheard of 5 and a half year contract.

Alan Pardew was appointed as NUFC manager on a 5 and a half year contract on Thursday

The silver fox – as he is affectionately known – had been out of work since the start of the season when he was, in similar circumstances to Hughton, unceremoniously relieved of his duties at The Saints despite winning their first silverware in over 30 years in the form of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy. Simultaneously, in the league, Southampton narrowly missed out on a play-off spot at the end of last season, despite being handicapped with a 10-point administration penalty. Southampton started the 2010/2011 season with a loss at home to newly relegated Plymouth but followed it up with a draw and an emphatic 4-0 win away to Bristol Rovers. Pardew was sacked just two days later however, with concern over staff morale given as the unofficial reason for his departure.

Just over a week before Pardew’s departure from the South coast club, Chris Hughton was enjoying his first home game as a permanent top-flight manager, watching his new number 9 and local hero Andy Carroll bag his first career hattrick in a 6-0 rout of managerless Aston Villa. Newcastle were back in the big time and all seemed well on the surface. However, with hindsight, we can now see that chairman Mike Ashley was unhappy with Hughton at the helm. However, with the win against Villa and the subsequent 5-1 drubbing of Sunderland combined with excellent away wins at Everton and Arsenal, he found it impossible to relieve Hughton of his duties when the club were sitting in 5th place at the start of November.

The 5-1 victory over Sunderland helped to delay Hughton's sacking.

With media pundits far and wide queuing up to tell Mike Ashley to reward the former Spurs man with a new deal, doubts about his backing from the boardroom surfaced firstly with the departure of Hughton’s number 2 and confidante Colin Calderwood in the middle of October. Calderwood chose to leave his position in order to take over at struggling SPL club Hibernian. Not a great surprise to most, but it was the search for Calderwood’s replacement that turned out to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. Nine days after Calderwood’s seemingly innocuous departure came the biggest hint from the boardroom that Hughton was surplus to requirements. After rumours about his job security saw betting suspended on him being the next Premier League boss to lose his job, the board released this bizarre statement:

“Chris is our manager and will remain our manager, and it is our intention to re-negotiate his contract at the end of the year.”

Official Club Statement: 27/10/2010

The statement, especially when viewed now, in hindsight, was a clear indication that Hughton was not wanted, despite a good start to the season and support from the vast majority of the Toon Army. Then, in the following weeks Hughton’s efforts to appoint a new assistant manager were met with contempt from above. Hughton wanted ex-Chelsea and West Ham man Steve Clarke but Ashley and his puppet (Silence of the) Llambias wanted to see Hughton appoint from within, with reserve coach Peter Beardsley their favoured option. Their motives behind such a move are now obvious, with them looking to dispose of Hughton as soon as possible and understandably reluctant to shell out wages and the inevitable compensation package that would follow when Hughton’s successor decided to bring in his own men. As a result, Hughton never got his number 2. He knew all along that he was living on borrowed time yet the way he conducted himself in the last few months is the mark of the man. In the face of such adversity and non-compliance from the board, he carried out his job with incredible dignity, the likes of which have not been seen since Sir Bobby Robson left under similar circumstances in 2004. Where other managers would have vented their feelings to the media and leaked to the papers the lack of boardroom support, he kept all problems in-house, well aware of the damage that can be done to the club via such channels.

Following Colin Calderwood's departure, Hughton was not permitted to choose his own No. 2.

Ashley’s sacking of Hughton was delayed only be the good form of the team on the pitch. He waited for the team to slip up and after shipping 8 goals on the road to Bolton (5-1) and West Brom (3-1), he wielded his much used axe. The announcement caused anger nationwide and for once, football fans seemed to sympathise with Newcastle fans as they realised that this was a decision taken solely by Ashley, with the Toon Army still – to borrow a Hughtonism – “very much” behind their manager. Anger was tempered slightly by the hope that the board would deliver on their reason for sacking Hughton:

Supporters still angry that Hughton had undeservedly lost his job and the club had lost its new-found stability hoped that Ashley had a plan. Out-of-work managers Martin O’Neill and Alans Curbishley and Pardew were the early front runners. Confirmation late on Monday of Martin Jol’s departure from Dutch giants Ajax seemed too well-timed to be a coincidence, yet that was all it was. The Toon Army’s hopes that Hughton’s replacement would indeed have significant top-flight experience were unfounded. The most unpopular of all realistic appointments, Pardew scored less than 2% of over 1000 votes in The Evening Chronicle’s ‘Next NUFC manager’ poll. On this site, he had only 1 vote prior to his appointment on Thursday, after which he garnered a further 2, taking his percentage to just under 3.5%. To say the Toon Army were underwhelmed would be an understatement. After yet another major blunder by Mike Ashley, he had a chance to go someway to rectifying the situation through the appointment of an experienced manager, as stated was required to ‘take the club forward’:
“If they are going to fire someone as good as Chris, they have to then bring in a big name, someone who has won trophies. And that doesn’t even mean he will necessarily be better. If they just bring in someone similar, it’s a joke.”

Jose Enrique
However, the hiring of Pardew (a joke according to Enrique), sacked by 3 of the 4 clubs he’s managed, was a slap in the face to the Newcastle fans and a kick in the balls to Chris Hughton who must wonder just what Pardew had done in his 74 Premier League games that Hughton had failed to in 16. One thing that Pardew does possess over Hughton is the blemish of a relegation on his CV, taking Charlton down in 2007, although to be fair, they already seemed doomed when he took the helm at the Addicks at the end of 2006. 

Alan Pardew took Charlton down to the Championship in 2007

Anger amongst the Toon Army further followed with BBC Sport claiming that Ashley knew Pardew as he had become one of his gambling buddies at Llambias’ London casino a few years back. Pardew claimed the first he heard of the possibility of getting the Newcastle job was when he received a call from his agent on Monday night, yet that begs the question why the bookmakers had him installed as the early favourite, amid rumours he met with Ashley the week before Hughton’s dismissal.

Whilst protests are planned at St James’ Park for before and during today’s game against Liverpool, it is highly unlikely that they will achieve anything but disruption on the pitch. There are echoes of the Hull game after Kevin Keegan’s acrimonious departure 2 years ago. On that day the Magpies lost 2-1 and 8 months later Newcastle United were relegated at Villa Park, finishing the season in 18th place, 1 point behind Hull City with a superior goal difference. Had Newcastle won that game, they would have survived with ease (on the basis that all other results stayed the same), finishing with 5 points more than Hull. It turned out to be a true relegation six-pointer… in September. 

Protests against the board in 2008 contributed towards the club's relegation. Repeat scenes today are not needed.

Therefore, if anyone was in any doubt as to the importance of the game against Liverpool, who arrive with a poor away record this season, they need only look back to that fateful day on the 13th of September 2008 to see that points need to be gained as soon as possible and protestations simply do not help on-field matters. Whilst many will not like the appointment of Pardew, and certainly not the sacking of Hughton, there is nothing we can do about it. At the end of the day, we are not fans of any individual. We support Newcastle United and the team needs us, both today and for the rest of the season. To Chris Hughton, thank you. To Alan Pardew, good luck.

Howay the Lads!!

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Comments
  1. Cormac Keeley says:

    Ashley/Lambus/Pardew three great Buddys from London . Could they please leave the House from Newcastle UK and return home for Good

  2. Take The Power Back says:

    There will be protests, that is almost inevitable. Unfortunately they will succeed in doing absolutely nothing at all except hinder the teams performance. Everyone needs to get behind the team now more than ever. We need to repeat the atmosphere from the mackems game, not hostility towards the board but supporting the lads on the pitch, willing them on to win. Pardew will be given a chance, of that I’m sure, every Newcastle fan knows that he had nothing to do with Hughton’s sacking, any disgust shown towards him would itself be disgusting.

    The time and place for any protests is outside the stadium, before and after the games, talk of boycotts will not hurt Ashley, just the club. Why cut off your nose to spite your face? We worked damned hard to get promoted last season and a repeat performance next season is just not on the cards, put simply, relegation cannot happen again. The only way forward is to keep on supporting our club and looking at ways of getting as much fan influence at board level as possible. An outright Barcelona model maybe a faraway dream, but it is imperative that we as fans and as the people and city of Newcastle have a strong say in the direction and running of the club with a clear view to the long term. Join NUST (www.nust.org.uk) and together we can work to get a greater say in the running of our club.

  3. Olly101 says:

    Hahahahaha , hindsight…isn’t it a wonderful thing?

  4. funnygogo says:

    It’s hard to come by educated people on this subject, however, you sound like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

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