Alan Pardew – From ‘Yes’ Man to Best Man
When Alan Pardew was appointed as Chris Hughton’s replacement, eyebrows were raised. The majority of supporters saw him as little more than Chairman Mike Ashley’s puppet, a ‘yes’ man, whilst Ashley and MD Derek Llambias continued their reign of the club amidst mass outcry from Newcastle United’s fan base.
Yet 17 months later he has transformed the hopes of Tyneside and taken the club back into Europe, and today it was announced that he has deservedly been named as Barclay’s Manager of the Season – undoubtedly his greatest achievement as a manager.
With 19 wins, 8 draws and 10 defeats, Pardew has taken a team who just two years ago were winning promotion from the Championship to fighting for a Champions League place against some of the nation’s best teams.
Chris Hughton was sacked following a poor run of results ahead of the Christmas period and many, admittedly myself included, questioned Pardew’s appointment. But his track record as a manager and player in the lower leagues was impressive – winning the Second Division with Crystal Palace in 1989, taking Reading to second in the same league in 2002, plus earning West Ham promotion and an FA Cup Final appearance in 2005 and 2006.
After finishing 12th in the Premier League, after a final day collapse against West Brom which cost the Magpies 10th place, fans were ready to give Pardew the benefit of the doubt ahead of his first full season in charge – that is until the club lost three of its most important players.
After Andy Carroll was sold to Liverpool in January, and a replacement yet to be found, many people including players were questioning the ambition of the manager and the club.
Joey Barton and Jose Enrique took to Twitter to show their views and were promptly shown the exit door, while Kevin Nolan was sold to West Ham after contract talks broke down at Newcastle.
The aforementioned have now turned into first names on the team sheet and Ba has scored 16 goals in a season which saw Newcastle play their first 11 games without defeat – eventually falling to Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium in November – the club’s best start to a season for 17 years.
The Magpies hadn’t dropped below eighth place in the league this season, and January signing Papiss Demba Cisse can also be thanked for their run of form which has seen them take Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur to the final day of the league in the battle for Champion’s League football.
Cisse’s incredible run of 13 goals in 13 games also coincided with Newcastle on their best winning run since 1996 – six consecutive victories.
It’s difficult not to wax lyrical about a manager who has turned the fortunes of this club around. We were seen as the laughing stock of the Premier League following a number of failed signings, relegation, Dennis Wise and Joe Kinnear.
The club’s run of form has even seen fans starting to back Mike Ashley for the first time since he took over as owner in 2007.
No matter the result on Sunday, and which European competition Newcastle play in, fans can once again take pride in the club knowing that they have the Best Manager in the League at the helm.