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Pardew is making mugs of the Magpies who wanted him out of Newcastle

26 Mar | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Pardew is making mugs of the Magpies who wanted him out of Newcastle

Crystal Palace boss is on course to finish above his old club and the fans who thought he was a busted flush.

WITH Harry Kane’s hat-trick and the big hitters involved in a couple of Super Sunday thrillers it has gone largely unnoticed. But Alan Pardew will have poured himself a large one on Saturday night after doing it. It will not have gone unnoticed on Tyneside either.

Because Crystal Palace moved above Newcastle at the weekend to make mugs of the Magpies’ fickle fans who wanted Pardew out of St James’s Park. As the Tyneside club drift under John “the lads gave everything” Carver, the Eagles go from strength to strength under a boss that the club’s fanbase actually appreciate.

First let’s do the numbers. Palace were 10 points behind Newcastle at the turn of the year when Pardew confirmed he wanted to defect to the south London club. Since then, the Toon have won just two of their last ten games in all competitions under Carver, losing seven. Meanwhile, Pardew has steered Palace to eight wins out of 13, including an impressive run of six victories out of seven away from home. 

Of their four home defeats (the other game was drawn), Palace were beaten by in-form Arsenal and Liverpool and sunk by a single goal at Southampton who have the best defensive record in the League. No shame whatsoever in any of that. Even allowing for those results, victory at Stoke last Saturday gave Pardew the chance to do something he will have savoured far more than he let on – look down on the club that thought they would be better off without him.

Down at Selhurst Park there is no chance of protests, fans punching horses in the streets or foul-mouthed vitriol inside the stadium when things go awry. Instead there is an understanding of Pardew’s work and an appreciation of the ambition of owner Steve Parish. Even with the Eagles about to be sold Parish is understood to sought assurances over Pardew’s job security and the direction in which the new custodians want to take the club.

There were snorts of derision when the Daily Mirror revealed back in January that Pardew was up for swapping St James’s for Selhurst Park. ‘Why would he want to go from such a big club to an outfit battling relegation?’ came the question. The answer was obvious. A greater sense of direction. The opportunity to work within more sane surroundings and a more supportive fanbase.

Having covered Pardew’s work for the Daily Mirror at Charlton, West Ham and now Palace, I have seen – at each club – nothing other than a hungry, single-minded, forward-thinking competitor who wanted the best for all three clubs. Despite guiding Newcastle to a fifth-place finish in the League three years ago however (the club’s highest top-flight placing since 2003/4), there was still a perception that he was not driven to achieve the best for the club. Yet the frustrations were being aimed at the wrong man. 

In Mike Ashley, Pardew was working for a custodian who could not guarantee that any single player – regardless of how well he was doing or how much he was loved by the fans – was not for sale at the right price. The supporters turned against Pardew when he refused to publicly state his frustrations over the lack of investment in the squad. He was accused of misleading supporters and actually being party to the decisions to sell off key players. 

But a) would Pardew, a hungry boss fighting to keep his club competitive, really want to shoot himself in the foot in such a fashion? And b) try belittling your boss in public and see how far it gets you.

Yes, Pardew didn’t do well in the cup competitions but how can you when you don’t have a strong or deep enough squad? You have to prioritise. No matter how wistful and romantic you may want to get over the cup competitions the riches of the Premier League are most important in the eyes of perhaps every top-flight owner. Pardew would admit himself that he was not blameless in some areas. This column would never support any club banning newspapers from simply doing their jobs – reflecting fans’ views and sometimes having to write things that managers and owners find uncomfortable to read. But there were certain situations for which fans blamed Pardew that were simply not his fault. 

What could he do about Yohan Cabaye who basically downed tools in an effort to [successfully] force a move? Or Hatem Ben Arfa who has shown himself with his subsequent failed moves to be a spoilt brat? What could Pardew do to stop Ashley selling Andy Carroll to Liverpool when the ludicrous bidding reached a level higher than Newcastle’s wildest dreams?Nothing. Yet the bile was unrelenting towards him until he decided enough was enough.

Those Magpies fans toasted Pardew’s departure and patted themselves on the back over a job well done. Those same fans, however, are settling down for a spiral into mediocrity. Carver is clearly not the man for the long term. The man is a No.2, not a No.1. For all his talk and enthusiasm you can only do glorious failure for so long. 

As for a new man, if he does his homework he will not be seduced by the brochure. Talk about the Ajax coach Frank de Boer is fanciful. Good luck with that. Especially with bigger, far better-resourced clubs sniffing around him.  Clubs with desire and ambition. Newcastle have perhaps been more realistically linked with the names of Remi Garde (one French cup in three years with Lyon) and Christophe Galtier (one French League Cup in four years with St Etienne). Neither inspires any real confidence that the Magpies will suddenly improve out of all recognition under them. 

In any case, the new man at St James’s Park needs only to google the club and look at a few newspaper cuttings to know that he will be working with one hand tied behind his back. Even if he has a good season – as Pardew did when he received that Manager of the Year Award – he will always be on the edge. The aspirations among fans at Newcastle are greater than the will of the club. Pardew has made it to safety and sanity. He could yet be looking even further up the table.

Newcastle have even further to fall.