After what’s come since, maybe it is time to review the reign of Alan Pardew at St James Park
It was just over two years ago on 3rd May 2014 that the Sack Pardew campaign came to a head.
Newcastle were at home to Cardiff City after a run of three wins in 14 games since the sale of Yohan Cabaye. The ‘Pardew out’ songs poured down from the stands, banners were flown and Alan Pardew himself took cover for most of the match in the dugout, receiving a chorus of boos every time he dared to venture pitchside.
Defending Pardew may not be a popular topic and I’m sure I will get a lot of flak for writing this, but was he really that bad? Looking at where we’ve gone since with the same players Pardew had, plus £80m of new ‘talent’, perhaps it’s time to admit he was actually doing a decent job with some awful resources.
Alan Pardew built two quality teams at St James Park, that much can be undisputed.
The first team, in the 2011-12 season that finished 5th and won him the manager of the year award, was centred around the goalscoring talents of Demba Ba and the midfield genius of Yohan Cabaye. After Ba was sold at the start of 2013, a season when we were almost relegated, Pardew went and built what he always said was his best team.
Centred again around Yohan Cabaye, this team was well placed in January 2014, only seven points off the Champions League, when the rug was pulled from under us by the sale of Cabaye to PSG. Pardew’s whole tactical plan had been built around this player and it wasn’t even as if he was replaced.
Not one player was signed in that transfer window, just as not a single permanent signing had been made the previous summer. The absurd Joe Kinnear saw to that.
Yes Pardew was not perfect. His main fault can be summed up by a Crystal Palace fan that I spoke to outside Wembley last month…
‘”He’s a good manager,” he told me when asked about Pardew, “but he’s got no plan B when things go wrong.”
We saw that time and again at Newcastle. To be honest he was on to a loser from the moment he signed. Having replaced the popular Chris Hughton he was seen as Ashley’s yes man by our fans and didn’t help himself with some of his ridiculous press conferences, not to mention the infamous headbutting incident with David Meyler.
The reality is though that Pardew’s Plan A is a lot better than most of what’s come since. Carver and McClaren were a shambles and even Rafa Benitez has employed the sort of negative tactics at Villa and Norwich that Pardew was routinely slaughtered for.
The main argument in defence of Pardew, however, is simply that he did a decent job with what he was given.
What manager in the world would cope with having their best player sold every time they built a team, as well as having no new players in to replace them?
Steve McClaren was given £80m to spend and allowed to keep all his key players, yet he took us to the brink of relegation.
Imagine what Alan Pardew would have done with that level of support from the board. Things might have been a bit different.