Newcastle United – ‘It Must Be Love’
The last time that Alan Pardew looked a little hot under the collar was after he crowd-surfed into the West stand after Papiss Cisse grabbed a stoppage-time winner against Fulham. He emerged from the jubilant Newcastle supporters looking like an exhausted member of Madness, after three encores, including an extended version of ‘It Must Be Love’.
But, despite the celebration being initially perceived as heart warming and endearing, it now seems Pardew’s wobbly appearance afterwards was more of a startled Matt Cardle than the self-assured swagger of Mr Suggs.
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That Fulham game marked the start of Pardew’s demise. Minutes before Cisse stuck the ball past Mark Schwarzer – hereby saving his and Pardew’s skin – derogative jitters were being muttered. For the first time in 24 months, panicked murmurs were rife amongst the stands and it seemed Newcastle’s once adopted Geordie hero was, once more, being eagerly asked to return to that horrible London place to which he was born.
If Pardew wasn’t able to hear the scornful whispers during the Fulham game, he certainly couldn’t have ignored the tirade of disgust hurtling towards him as Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool side pirouetted around Newcastle’s disjointed 4-3-2-1 formation. The puzzling system had given plenty of scope for some perplexed pre-match banter, with dejected fans feeling short changed by the news that a fully fit Hatem Ben Arfa would remain on the bench, alongside the in-form (well, he scored the week before) Yoan Gouffran.
So, as Jonas Gutierrez and James Perch were replaced by the aforementioned – and much more talented – pair at half time, Pardew not only confessed to his unforgivable crime but, for the first time since his arrival, he demonstrated a worrying lack of control. Mr Eight-years-stability was no more – and the alarming scent of Allardyce, Souness, Gullit, Dalglish and Kinnear polluted the air.
A Cisse injury time goal would not have distracted the fifteen fans who had stayed to watch the Jordan Henderson show last weekend and this time – rather than an exhausted overzealous celebration – it was a fearful perspiration that resided on Pardew’s rapidly aging forehead.
With three games to go it would be foolish to sack Pardew but his performance this season certainly doesn’t make him a shoo-in to start the next, whether it’s in the Premier League or not. With rumours of Mike Ashley having approached Rafa Benitez circling quietly around Twitter’s zoological free-for-all, it seems most would applaud the Spaniard taking over. Or with the influx of French players, would it be logical to approach the currently unemployed Laurent Blanc, or Real Sociedad’s over-achieving Philippe Montanier?
Certainly all present a better case for employment than the current manager does. But let’s make sure it is the Premier League first though, eh?
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