The Pardew Out Campaign and The Lost Causes
When the Evening Chronicle decided – thanks to my email – to dedicate last Tuesday’s first three pages to the global ‘Pardew Out’ campaign, I felt an overwhelming sense of pride.
Not just on a personal level, but because the minority of people who see through Alan Pardew’s lies, had finally become the majority.
People from as far afield as America, China, Scandinavia, South Africa and even Armenia sent photos of themselves in front of landmarks, holding a paper sign saying they want rid of a man who – when he’s not head butting footballers and pushing linesmen, has become a poison in this great football club. Those with sense see him for what he truly is; others continue to defend the indefensible. We call those people ‘lost causes’.
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Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher are rightfully regarded as two superb pundits but they disappointed me after Newcastle’s miserable 3-0 defeat to Arsenal. They carelessly threw out Toon Army clichés, saying we prefer losing 4-3 to winning 1-0, we insist on having more local lads playing and we demand too much. I thought they were better than that. As one of the banners at Anfield says ‘We don’t demand a team that wins, we demand a club that tries’, a club where the manager doesn’t jovially declare: “Thank God we are not in the Europa League again” and the Finance Director admits: “The cup competitions are not a priority for the club.”
Without these competitions, what are we? Just a club striving for mid-table mediocrity and each year’s TV money. Forget glory, it’s all about the balance sheet. Listen, finishing 9th/10th in the league is fine but I look at clubs like Swansea, Wigan, Bradford and Hull in cup finals and wonder why that can’t be Newcastle. Then I remember – daring to have a cup final could affect league form and punish the winner with a dreaded European place. Our car of hopes and dreams has been crushed into a cube of apathy.
People say that it’s a Mike Ashley problem. They sympathise with Pardew, saying he’s not been given money to spend and has his hands tied. He’s seen as a victim of Ashley, in the same boat as fans. What they forget is that Pardew is part of ‘Team Ashley’ – on the front line – and knew exactly what he was getting into when he took the manager’s job in December 2010. His eyes are wide open and he enthusiastically toes the company line, dedicating the 2-0 win over Chelsea to him (“this win is for Mike Ashley”).
He repeatedly tells the fans they should be grateful to Ashley, whilst presumably bonding with his boss over a few beers to laugh at those gullible Geordies. He takes joy in peddling – worded carefully so it looks otherwise – our key players, that’s why he made no noise when Cabaye left, he’s working to his job specification. Cabaye will only be replaced once they find a replacement they can bid under the market value for. Offering sensible prices is dangerous – what if we become the next Portsmouth?!?
The Cabaye sale is also used to defend Pardew, as Newcastle sold their star player without replacement. Whilst a drop in form is inevitable, it in no way defends the mammoth freefall that followed. The last 21 games (in all competitions) have seen 15 defeats – seven by three or more goals – and 13 matches without scoring. The goal difference of -15 is worsened by just five other teams. And last season, Pardew almost relegated us WITH Cabaye! A squad full of Dutch, Italian, French and Argentine internationals were almost demoted with this manager – who almost took West Ham down with Javier Mascherano and Carlos Tevez.
Of course, another argument is ‘Yeah but you’re 10th. That’s good!’ Then you see Stoke in 9th and Crystal Palace 11th then realise that maybe it’s not an achievement, more an indictment of how poor half of the Premier League is. Sunderland were almost relegated three weeks ago but have almost caught up! Pardew has bettered the staggeringly low standards of finishing 16th last season but has underachieved with the talents at his disposal. He has also exiled one of the most naturally gifted footballers in the world – Hatem Ben Arfa.
Ben Arfa is a throwback to those magical players we idolised as kids – he possesses all the talent in the world yet has been scapegoated by a manager who unanimously prefers commitment and grafting to skill and ability. For Pardew, the chief function of wingers is to shadow the full-backs. Occasionally labelled a ‘show pony’, Ben Arfa is Newcastle’s joint second highest assist-provider and fourth highest league goal scorer this season, from a measly 12 starts. Watch opposition defences when he gets the ball – they’re petrified of him! He has ability, he has end product and he genuinely loves Newcastle United. A world class (or semi-decent) manager would know how to utilise him but Pardew refuses to.
The Frenchman joins social media, sovereign states and the Notting Hill Carnival on the list of extraordinary but genuine excuses used by Pardew in his three-and-a-half years. To him, the reason that Newcastle have only once escaped the FA Cup’s Third Round is simply ‘science’. A master manipulator of the media, he keeps lowering expectations and telling fans we can only dream of being the mighty Southampton. His tactics send shivers down many spines – remember when he played Shola Ameobi as a winger? Or Papiss Cisse? ‘Out of position’ is his speciality. He once stumbled upon a free-flowing 4-3-3 that won six games in a row (only conceding once), only to never use it again after a freak 4-0 defeat to Wigan. But that’s Pardew, always advocating fearful, dull, negative football.
We rarely win after going behind and his boast of unearthing a ‘perfect’ corner routine preceded another 18 months without scoring from one. The 6-0 mauling by Liverpool last April was Newcastle’s worst home defeat in 87 years and, for two years, he has single-handedly saved Sunderland from relegation with regular Tyne-Wear derby defeats. But will he actually get sacked? For Ashley, the priority isn’t Newcastle fans. You usually need happy customers to keep the money coming in but Ashley already has the money thanks to his 10 year season tickets – up to now many people don’t want to lose their place in the queue and/or get the tickets at the cheaper rate, so they keep renewing. He won’t fire the most loyal ‘yes man’ he’ll ever have, just to keep supporters happy. If anything, he seems to relish winding us up – as proved by the Joe Kinnear and stadium renaming fiascos.
Fans of other clubs don’t ‘get it’ because they just see the league position, and that’s their prerogative, but don’t sit there and tell us we’re wrong. We know our club. Tottenham, Norwich and West Ham are perhaps “where they should be” in the league but their supporters still see a bigger picture, that the league sometimes masks reality and the impending doom on the horizon. That’s why Tim Sherwood, Chris Hughton and Sam Allardyce’s heads had/have also been called for. If Alan Pardew remains manager next season, Newcastle will be fighting relegation again.
A mass brainwashing has gone on – the same fans who hounded out Sam Allardyce after only eight months, now seem content to just shrug their shoulders and accept mediocrity from the regime. But, slowly, the fans are finding a voice. Just as Pardew is losing the fans, he’s losing the players too. That’s become clear upon watching the recent heartless, unimaginative gruel they’ve served up. The problem has gone beyond results now. The first step to getting our club back and daring to dream of glory again is to make Pardew’s position untenable. Keep booing, keep chanting, keep waving banners and making noise. Maybe it will pay off. Pardew has to go.
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