Update From The ‘Pardew Out Brigade’
Cast your mind back, if you can, to the afternoon of October 27th. Life was not easy if you were a fan of Newcastle United, whether or not you were a member of the ‘Pardew Out Brigade’.
Following a very nondescript pre-season, we were treated to an absolute hammering from Man City. Albeit an expected result, the warning signs were already there that this was to be a repeat of last season. Fast forward. 0-0 at home to West Ham. Narrow wins against Fulham and Aston Villa, followed by a loss to Hull City at St James.
I find myself unwilling to mention the appointment of Joe Kinnear, because even several months on, I still have absolutely no clue what happened, why he is here, where he is or what he does. Despite some very obvious negative points, there were still some highlights by this point – progression in the cup, away wins, and a 2-2 draw against Liverpool; a result that looks better with every passing week.
The season up to this point could be described in one phrase: consistently inconsistent. This could not be truer in the 3-2 defeat to Everton at Goodison. As bad a first half as I can remember in recent times, followed by a spirited comeback, which at the very least, showed that there was still some fight in the squad.
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Fast forward. Approximately 3:30 on Saturday 27th October. The unthinkable had happened – again. Do I need to mention it? No. I was sitting in a pub in Newcastle, trying my best not to sob into my pint. Football’s a funny thing like that. It brings out emotions in you that you didn’t know existed, often at inconvenient and embarrassing times. Or maybe that was the beer… considering what had just happened, and the season up until that point, I could be excused for feeling down.
There was no sign of improvement from the previous season and all the emotions from the last campaign came rushing back. The feeling of dread after the home defeat to Reading – when the threat of relegation became so very real. The embarrassment after the Liverpool and S*nderland games. Even the frustration from the Arsenal and Man U games. It all came back. Nothing had changed. The players were underperforming, the manager was underperforming, the owner couldn’t care less and he would rather focus on what kind of misery he could cause to us next.
I know what you’re thinking and yes there is a point to this article. It’s coming. Probably…
Following that game, there was of course another expected defeat to Manchester City but then..something happened. I don’t know what exactly but everything just clicked. The players suddenly remembered they are international footballers, the manager remembered he could actually set up a team capable of attacking and winning. Joe Kinnear seemingly vanished, only to appear fortnightly in the top corner of his heavily ghosted programme notes. Mike Ashley was in London, probably, working out how to sell Dunlop socks to babies.
Fast forward. United 2- 0 Chelsea. Somehow, we had gone from being beaten by a team with one point, to comfortably beating the plaything of a Russian oligarch, extending Mourinho’s barren run at St James’. We suddenly looked like a good team. We looked like the team that finished 5th. Less than a week earlier I was mentally preparing for a relegation fight. Now there was hope. Wins against Spurs, Norwich, West Brom, Man U, and Crystal Palace somehow propelled us from relegation fodder to challengers for European football.
Now here we are, as I write this on Christmas Eve, 6 points from the top of the league. Even the most pessimistic fan can’t find too much to complain about with the team or the manager – but here lies the problem, (and my point – I told you I was getting there), there is nothing to complain about – on the pitch anyway.
It has been said that Newcastle United fans’ biggest rivalry is with Newcastle United fans. I believe this to be absolutely true.
I have read the following message hundreds of times on social networking sites over the last couple of weeks and every time I read it, it really annoys me. The message is something like this: “The Pardew-Out Brigade are really quiet at the minute”. It is not necessarily the message itself that gets to me, it is the pettiness and smugness hidden beneath the text. This is what annoys me the most.
Why do these people feel the need to say this? Yes, during last season, and the start of this, there was a growing number of people in favour of Alan Pardew vacating his position at the club. I am/was one of them. I’m not exactly sure when we formed a brigade. I’m not exactly sure even what a brigade is! It is almost undeniable fact, that if any other club had suffered the same season as we did, the manager would have been sacked, regardless of the cause of the season, be it injuries, Europe etc. I’m not necessarily saying that it is right, but it is true. Were it not for the 8 year contract, and Mike Ashley’s lack of care for the club, Pardew would have lost his job. He didn’t.
However, when the summer came and went without any permanent signings, and the form of the previous season apparently continued up until the end of October, he could have been sacked. Again, at any other club he would have been. There is no denying that Alan Pardew is one of the luckiest men in football to still have a job. However, he didn’t lose his job, and now, in late December, that appears to have been a good decision. However, in order to try to explain why the “Pardew Out Brigade” have gone quiet (I think this is the point of the article, even I’m not sure at this point), I think I should first attempt to explain what the Pardew Out Brigade wanted.
I cannot speak for every member of the brigade, I can only speak for myself, and the opinions of those I have spoken to (at our bi-monthly underground brigade meetings). Obviously, we wanted Pardew Out. However, a lot of fans, myself included, knew this was unlikely.
Personally, I’d rather Pardew wasn’t sacked – I want him to become a better manager, to learn from his mistakes. There were a lot of changes I and my fellow brigade members wanted him to make. We wanted the manager to set a team up capable of winning. We wanted less long balls. We wanted attacking football. We wanted a team that reflected the passion and commitment of the fans. What we wanted wasn’t unreasonable. It was well within the capabilities of Alan Pardew and his team of international footballers to accomplish this.
I know it was because in the last 2 months they have accomplished this. He has seemingly learnt from his mistakes of last season and we now look like the team from 11/12 again. We look good – very good. So why are the Pardew Out Brigade quiet? We have what we want. We have what we have been asking for for over a year – a team to be proud of.
There are many fans, myself included, who still don’t like Pardew. Some never have and never will. Most however, have previously liked Pardew – he won our support and trust in the 11/12 season. Last season he lost it. It will take a long time before he wins back the support of many fans, although with performances like those of late, he will win us back eventually.
So why is there surprise that the Pardew Out Brigade have gone quiet? Football is an ever-changing game, one minute you’re getting beat off your local rivals, and looking at the bottom of the table, the next you’re beginning to consider the possibility of a return to European football. One minute you’re top of the long ball table and losing at home to Hull, the next you’re a slick, attacking outfit capable of winning at Old Trafford for the first time in 40 years. Football changes. Opinions change with it. The reason we are quiet at the minute, is because Pardew has changed, he has started to become what we want. He has changed, so our opinion has changed.
There are still many things we want him to change.
Three I can think of off the top of my head are our attitude to, and performances in, derbies and cups, and our inability to really hammer anyone. Our inability to hammer teams, to put a game out of sight of the opposition when we have the chance has cost us dearly in the past. Improving our performance in the derbies will make all our lives easier, and changing our attitude towards the cups – who knows what could happen.
To finish this remarkably long-winded article, the ‘Pardew Out Brigade’ are quiet at the minute because we are happy. Our team is doing well. Our manager is doing well. We have a team to be proud on – why would we be complaining?
We all support the same team and I think all our time would be better served celebrating recent success rather than pointing out who said what and trying to cause arguments between our own fans. We all just want what is best for Newcastle United.
I hope everyone has a great Christmas and we get 3 points on Thursday to top it all off.
Howay The Lads
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