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The Truth Of Alan Pardew (Not) Developing Young Players At Newcastle, Southampton, Charlton…

10 years ago

Every so often Alan Pardew gets criticised for not playing young players and without fail he says; ‘I’m not afraid to play young players. I gave Noble his chance at West Ham, Shelvey a chance at Charlton, and Oxlade his chance at Southampton.”

Shelvey and Oxlade were in the lower leagues, not in the Premier League. Did he really develop them, or just throw them on for a couple of minutes to appease fans? Being sceptical, I decided to take a look.

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Credit To Pardew For Shelvey…?

Oxlade made a few cameo league appearances in games under AP. Then he was a starter under Nigel Adkins and was a star performer. Adkins got replaced because the Southampton chairman didn’t think he played enough youngsters. I wonder why the same chairman got rid of AP?  Was it only because he spent £3m on a team who were  already contenders in League One and failed to even reach the play-offs, or was it because he was holding back the famous Southampton academy?

It was the same when I looked at Shelvey. Pardew gave him 3 appearances totalling little more than ninety minutes before he was hounded out the club.

It’s one thing to give a player a few brief slots, as we’ve seen Pardew do with Tavernier, Bigi, Vuckic, Campbell & now Adam Armstrong, and then to say they are not good enough. It’s another altogether to give them a serious run of 15-20 games that a young player needs to develop their confidence and ability. The kind of run that Brendan Rodgers has gave Raheem Sterling. Now look at him: he must be worth at least £25m.

Both Shelvey and Oxlade got a run in the team after Pardew left and this is what they owe their development to, not the little game time he begrudgingly gave them. Both these players must have stood out by a mile at their clubs. Shelvey scored 14 in 23 games for the Charlton reserves, and Oxlade was playing in the Premiership for Arsenal a year later, so it would have taken an absolute donkey not to play him in League 1. His third example is Noble (a handful of appearances before sent out on loan) by Pardew who is an average Pardew workhorse, capable of running about and following orders, much like Dummett but in midfield.


I could go on for hours here. Pardew is a manager who worries about containing the other team. This style of manager (Moyes, Big Sam) need players who can keep a calm head and follow out orders and not bomb up the pitch the way young players do. Look at Haidara when we got beat 6-0 against Liverpool. He got our man of the match but came in for heavy criticism from Pardew for trying to go forward when we were 2-0 down.

Pardew is afraid to play young exciting talent, or even older talent. He knows if he plays Armstrong, Campbell, or Ben Arfa they will get carried away and forget to mark players, or try to take on a defender when keeping possession would have been better. So the negative manager will choose Perch, Simpson, Jonas, Shola, or Raylor every time. Dummett is the only one who has broke through but he is a typical workhorse that just does as he is told, nothing more. Tavernier is and always has been far better, but he gets forward and scores goals. In playing it safe everytime under Pardew we will always miss out on excitement and unpredictability.

When Ben Arfa and Cisse tore the league apart, this was not because of Pardew, but in spite of him. Ben Arfa had to get man of the match from the bench several weeks in a row before he dislodged the poor Obertan. And as soon as his form dipped from world-class he was back on the bench where he couldn’t do any damage.

The main example of this comes from Pardew’s time at West Ham when he preferred Hayden Mullins and Marlon Harewood to Mascherano and Tevez. When he got sacked he blamed the Argentines for “taking away some of our (West Ham’s) famed team spirit and determination.” This is despite the fact he only played Mascherano 3 times and Tevez 7 times.

Scapegoat Tevez responded by saying Pardew doesn’t know how to play foreign players and prefers an all English team. In other words, flair players do not suit his grafter style; the same style he had as a player, which dragged him from the non-league to the top flight.


Tevez, Mascherano, and Ben Arfa aren’t the only scapegoats. After the reserves played Brighton in the FA Cup and got beat 2-0, he said publicly they weren’t good enough for the club. Yet a year earlier his stars got beat 1-0 off Brighton in the same round of the same cup. That time he defended them. Blaming the young players that night was awful man management of inexperienced players needing confidence. The first team had been playing shocking at that point and were on one of his customary losing runs, but he was always defending the likes of Jonas. Jonas etc should have been hung up to dry and the youths protected, not the other way round.

That year he constantly blamed everything on Europe and having to field youths. If I recall, our youths won several games in Europe and played well. It was the senior stars losing pathetically each week.

Another young player he publicly blasted and subbed after 45 minutes was Fraser Forster. We played a friendly against Leeds (his debut) and he made a howler. Pardew blamed him, saying “The first goal in particular set the tone for a shabby performance from us and those mistakes cost us the result. Sometimes in a game like that you learn more, and I’ve learnt more about individual players today than I have all pre-season.” He shipped him out the following week, replacing him with his old keeper Rob Elliot. What are the odds that if Forster goes on to star at the World Cup, Pardew will add his name to his illustrious list of players that he has gave debuts to?


We have seen so many promising youngsters either go backwards or stagnate under Pardew. Vuckic and Campbell are the prime example. Something is not right. I’ve heard countless people involved in the academy say Beardsley can’t coach and I believe it. He was a great player but he’s failed miserably as a coach. It’s time we admit he can’t do his job and move him into an ambassadorial role.


In the conflict of the immediate game at hand, or the future of the club, Pardew is not concerned with the long-term. He has said and he has demonstrated this in his time here, which is why we don’t improve. His latest quotes show he does not want young players.

“Sometimes, like with all transfer conversations, there are certain conflicts about positions and conflicts about certain types of player and it’s very important the chief executive (or managing director as Charnley is) makes those calls right. Some might favour the younger player – maybe for the future of the club, not the immediate use of the manager – but the immediate problems for the manager is the priority and he understands that. I think he gets that right.”

I have some sympathy with managers. When the average boss only lasts a year, why develop for the future? Why sow the seeds for the guy who will take your job? But Pardew has had almost 4 years and has a patient chairman, and was given an 8 year contract. He SHOULD be concerned with the future of the club.

A name I’ve heard touted as a replacement, Moyes, is almost as bad. Everton youth coach and former toon star, Kevin Sheedy, recently blasted him for his time at Goodison in which he rarely fielded any of the young superstars that regularly come through at Everton.

Rooney & Janujaz (at Man U) are the exceptions, but Rooney & Janujaz are exceptional talents. It is also reported that he tried to change Manchester’s famous academy to focus less on ball skills and more on athleticism.

He is another dinosaur and in my eyes nothing more than a good version of Pardew. Both favour 4-5-1, preferably with 5 defensive midfielders. Moyes even played a defensive midfielder upfront at Everton in Fellaini. The aim of Moyes and Pardew is to be tough to beat. I don’t want to see that. I’d rather come 11th playing expansive football with young talent, than come 9th by crowding the midfield and stifling the game.

I am willing to support a manager through bad times if I can see he is trying to play good football, or building for the future. As long as I see we are going somewhere in the future then I can ignore the present. With Pardew, the furthest his vision extends to is the next game and his next excuse.

I’d like to see our next boss be someone with ideas, like Ralf Rangnick & Roger Schmidt at Salzburg. With little money the duo have turned them into one of Europe’s most attacking teams. Uwe Rosler or Rene Girard would also be welcome.

Anyway, Pardew out!

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