How odd – a football manager who is head-hunted usually has an impressive CV or possesses qualities which are a good fit for the long-term ambitions of the owner.
Take Newcastle United’s recent managerial history.
Ossie Ardiles was brought in to light up the pitch with his carpet football ideals; not easy when you’re only allowed to sign one player.
He was eventually ‘let go’ in favour of someone who’d never managed before. It was a gamble as Newcastle stared into the abyss that was division three, but it worked and off we went on a journey the likes of which we can only dream/reminisce about.
Kevin Keegan left of his own accord citing Gerry Francis’ face as the watershed. Dalglish had won leagues and cups with Blackburn and Liverpool but he was fired with a decidedly average record. Gullit was brought in, destroyed the confidence of everyone involved with the club and was duly sacked for being a bit worse than Dalglish.
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Sir Bob brought back some optimism but in the end, lost the dressing room, had a few poor results and was fired. Souness had won leagues and trophies and most importantly (to Freddie Shepherd at least) had a disciplinarian approach to tame the likes of Bellamy and Dyer.
That didn’t go to plan so he was jettisoned in favour of former player and backroom (cheap) appointment Glenn Roeder after a good run under his caretaker-ship got Newcastle back into Europe. His time in charge wasn’t a disaster, in fact he’s sixth in the win percentage table of all Newcastle’s managers.
Roeder left quietly and in came Allardyce (sacked), Keegan again (walked out again), Kinnear (least said), Shearer (contract ended), Hughton (sacked) and now Pardew; who I think I’m right in saying, is the only Newcastle manager in living memory to have been head-hunted.
It makes a lot of sense. Most Newcastle fans have been calling for Pardew to leave for ages; be it because he almost got us relegated or because before our recent upturn in form, he’d steered us to 17 defeats in 27 games, winning just 5?
Alan Irvine has just been sacked for far less than that. When I heard Pardew didn’t want to do the post-match interview after the Everton game, it reminded me of that episode of friends where Ross pretends he’s dead to see who turns up to his funeral. When someone finally arrives to tell of their sadness at his passing, he leaps out of the bedroom to announce that he’s alive and well.
Pardew giving us the impression that he was off to Palace felt like that – it felt like he wanted to go straight on Twitter to read all of the ‘don’t go’ messages and ‘we realise now that you’re all we’ve ever wanted’ pleas of insanity.
However, the message is loud and clear. The national media keep telling us that he’s done a ‘fantastic’ job under the ‘circumstances’ and only one person has stepped in to correct them. Mr. Michael Quinn jumping in whilst presenting Talk Sport on Monday to say ‘no, he’s done an ok job’. He’s right. We’ve been brilliant under Pardew at times but we’ve also suffered some humiliating defeats, some of the worst I’ve ever witnessed in fact.
Whether Ashley couldn’t sack Pardew because of the length of his contract or another unspecified reason, despite really really wanting to, or whether he would have stood by him as we slipped quietly into non-league football is unclear but it seems Ashley is not putting up a fight to keep his manager.
Despite the awful year Pardew has had managing us, Palace are quite happy to pay us for his services. He’s quite happy to go there too; escaping the catcalls and criticism, going from a club who expects a top ten finish and a decent cup run to one who just hopes they don’t get relegated. He probably thinks that if he steers them to a European place they’ll build a statue of him outside the ground.
The biggest problem in this whole debacle is of course who will sell their soul to work under Ashley? The coaching badgeless Coloccini? Steve ‘half a good season’ Bruce? Peter Beardsley?
We’ll never get a top manager as they like to have some semblance of a transfer budget and tend to frown on selling their best players mid-season.
So step forward anyone who hasn’t done that great, feels this is the one and only time they’d ever get to manage a Premier League club and has no ambition or mind of their own