Newcastle United – Class and Dignity
“Bobby Robson does a jig of delight on the touchline then remembers that he’s nearly 69!”
– Jon Champion, December 22, 2001
“Alan Pardew and Meyler just squaring up to each other, and Pardew… Oh dear, dear, dear! He looked there as though he might have put his forehead into the face of David Meyler.”
– Steve Bower, March 1, 2014
Class and dignity within football is becoming somewhat rare in the modern era. Sporting behaviour is fast evaporating from the game we have come to love and enjoy each weekend with players throwing themselves to the floor all too often whilst directing expletive language towards match officials as millions of young children around the world look on.
It’s not a good example to set to the younger generation and much is written about the need for role models within the beautiful game. Whilst we cannot absolve players from blame, questions must also be asked of those manning the touchline.
Sir Alex Ferguson was known to harass both linesman and the fourth official when he felt there was insufficient injury time at the end of a game and Arsene Wenger showed his childish side when he was sent from the touchline at Old Trafford.
However, their actions can be considered somewhat insignificant when you consider the actions of a certain Alan Pardew. Four years before he became the manager of Newcastle United, Pardew goaded Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger on the touchline, provoking the relatively mild-mannered Wenger into pushing him. Pardew’s actions were not ones of joy, but to openly taunt his opposite number.
This behaviour was then repeated some time later in his first Tyne-Wear derby at St. James’ Park. With Newcastle trailing their fiercest rivals by a single goal, the home side were awarded a penalty after Fraizer Campbell fouled Shola Ameobi. Martin O’Neill was enraged by the decision. Alan Pardew was elated. So much so he immediately confronted the Northern Irishman in his technical area, waving his fist in his face. However, the brief moment of relief soon evaporated when Demba Ba missed the spot kick. Only a late equaliser from Shola Ameobi spared him total humiliation.
Fast-forward a little to a balmy August evening on the opening day of the 2012-13 season. Newcastle were at home to Tottenham Hotspur when the ball appeared to go out of play. Linesman Peter Kirkup made a mistake, as human beings are prone to do every once in a while – he deemed that the ball had stayed in play.
Rather than go running to the fourth official like many managers do, a rather incensed Pardew approached Kirkup, pushing him in an act of behaviour mirroring that of a small child in the playground. Pardew was immediately sent to the stands and later received a two-game touchline ban and a fine of £20,000.
Less than 18 months on and Pardew again found himself involved in a petty touchline confrontation. In a game against Manchester City at St James’ Park. Pardew was approached by Manuel Pellegrini who accused him of contesting every decision made by the officials. Clearly unhappy at the accusations and forgetting that that his every move was being televised live throughout the world, Pardew responded by telling Pellegrini to ‘shut his noise’ before calling him “a f***ing old c***”.
A sheepish-looking Pardew attempted to brush off his actions by offering an apology but he was unable to escape the scathing opinions of the media, who widely condemned his behaviour.
Perhaps the most stand-out and shameful incident involving Alan Pardew on the touchline is the most recent. It’s March 2014 and his side are winning comfortably away at Hull City. Hull’s David Meyler, desperate to drag his side back into the game, brushed past Pardew to retrieve the ball after it had gone out of play. Taking exception to the audacity shown by Meyler to go within a foot of him, Pardew decided to confront the Irishman. Later stating that he had attempted to ‘push him away with my head’ the Newcastle manager appeared to headbutt the midfielder.
Pardew’s actions did not go unseen and he was promptly sent to the stands before being handed a fine of £100,000 by the club’s hierarchy and issued with a formal warning. On March 11 the FA banned Pardew from attending the stadium where Newcastle United would be playing for three games and banned him from taking up his seat in the dugout for a further four matches.
Whilst Pardew’s touchline antics end there, there is one other damning blot on his file. In March 2009 he was invited to give his insight into the weekend’s action on Match of the Day 2. In a quite frankly embarrassing attempt to highlight the strength shown by Chelsea’s Michael Essien in disposing Manchester City’s Ched Evans of possession he said that Essien ‘absolutely rapes’ Evans as footage played to masses glued to their television sets.
More than 35 viewer complaints were lodged and the BBC failed to make an on-air apology, stating that it had been misheard as ‘rakes’. Despite this, an overwhelming majority of viewers know what they had heard.
Players cannot escape the blame themselves. We all like to see some passion in a manager. Alan Pardew more than those on the pitch has a duty to represent the club in the best possible manner.
Pardew’s antics also seem to have rubbed off on his staff. This piece was originally written before the Southampton debacle. However, it seems relevant to mention the behaviour of Alan’s assistant – John Carver. Although he’s never been known for his mild-mannered approach to things, reports surfaced at half-time that he had confronted a group of fans holding “SackPardew.com” banners during the pre-match warm-up. Reports soon circled across social media that he had used foul and abusive language, questioned the integrity of their support and invited them to the training ground on Monday where he would “sort them out.” This is the man second in command at the club, not a fellow fan – a man who is paid handsomely to devise tactics capable of winning games.
Kevin Keegan and Sir Bobby Robson were passionate about Newcastle United but managed to retain their class and dignity on the touchline. Alan Pardew once said that he hoped to emulate Sir Bobby. Without digressing too much from the context of this article, he said: “I am looking forward to us putting in a display that he would be proud of. Hopefully it will be an offensive display, which was the hallmark of his teams.”
There is very little in common between Alan Pardew and Sir Bobby Robson. The latter was a man of class and dignity. Pardew is the polar opposite, his track record shows that he is devoid of class and has an uncanny knack of conducting himself in the most undignified manner far too often.
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