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Alan Pardew Offers the Tranquility Newcastle United Have Been Waiting For

Since Sir Bobby Robson was relieved of his managerial reigns at St. James’ Park, there have been a steady succession of suitors to his throne. Most notable and arguably most successful was Chris Hughton who was ignominiously sacked by villainous millionaire owner Mike Ashley. After that disgraceful dismissal last October, Alan Pardew was handed the eternally poisonous chalice of Newcastle manager. For many, including myself, it was a baffling appointment. How could Ashley justify the sacking of Hughton if the man lined up to replace him was not markedly better? It seemed not only unfair on Hughton, but slightly deranged to the Magpies faithful and the wider football community. However, after a year with Pardew at the helm, the Toon Army are starting to look like a force to be reckoned with in the Premier League.

It may only be October and too early in the season to start praising the brilliance of a squad which has yet to face most of its sternest tests in the league this year but, what cannot be doubted is the confidence and quality that Newcastle have already demonstrated so far this season. The Magpies are currently sitting fourth in the league with a mean defensive record matched only by the big-spending Manchester clubs and with the potential bonus of the return to fitness of highly-rated Hatem Ben Arfa. I’m not predicting that Newcastle will maintain a top four spot. In fact I would be surprised if they can finish in the top six but, the mere fact that they have made such a good start and earned some notable results along the way, suggests that Pardew has managed to instil a level of belief in his squad that has to be admired.

Perhaps Pardew is the man that Newcastle have needed ever since Sir Bobby was forced out. Many would argue that, given the same amount of money and time, Chris Hughton could have crafted an equally strong squad and perhaps would have held on to fan favourites like Barton, Carroll and Nolan, but sadly we’ll simply never know. For years though Newcastle have been a headline club, populating the back pages with scandal and catastrophe rather than glory and success. The sad thing is that when you visit St.James’ Park you invariably come away with the impression that the club is massive, and in many senses it is. The stadium is top-class, the fans show immense passion and the mood of the city itself is often an indication of the teams latest result. What disappoints so many Newcastle fans is the sense of a great potential which has been consistently wasted over recent years. When Magpies’ supporters look around the Premier League and see the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City achieving Champions League qualification it’s hard for them to justify why they are not there instead.

Newcastle had the head start on both these clubs in the early years of the 21st Century when Sir Bobby was achieving great things and building a team that looked as if it could genuinely mount a challenge to Arsenal and Manchester United, the big boys of the Premier League in the pre-Abramovich era. What followed was unpredictable and hugely disappointing from a Newcastle perspective, after finishing fourth in 2001-02, third in 2002-03 and then fifth in 2003-04, the club only managed one more top ten finish before the decade was out and eventually slumped to a crushing relegation in 2008-09.  In those years the club was making headlines with the departure of Craig Bellamy, the costly purchase of Michael Owen, the arrival of Mike Ashley, countless changes in management and just about every other negative headline a football club could hope to attract. All of these meant that Newcastle United had turned into a soap opera and, rather than the emblem of the city that its fans wanted, it had become a slight embarrassment.

Fast forward to the present day and Alan Pardew is working relative wonders with the team. He’s already had his fair share of controversy and scandal to deal with in the shape of Joey Barton, Nile Ranger, Andy Carroll and of course Mike Ashley, but Pardew has dealt with all of this in such an understated and peaceful manner that he pulls the legs out from under such stories before they can run wild and cause havoc. Most importantly the team looks exciting in attack yet solid at the back, an illusive balance which evaded Kevin Keegan and ultimately cost him a Premier League title with the Magpies over a decade ago. The hope at St. James’ Park then, is that Newcastle can begin to realise some of that huge potential and get on the long road to becoming one of the big boys of the Premier League. What every Newcastle fan can be assured of however, is that the journey will be filled with chaos and commotion but the hope is that in Pardew Newcastle have a man capable of managing the surrounding furore as competently as he manages the team.

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  1. stevie

    October 21, 2011 at 10:09 am

    i’m an arsenal fan but it’s good to see newcastle doing well (so far). i reckon they can pull off a good position in league this year and maybe even get into europe. tiote and cabaye look a top class pair in centre midfield and even though the strikers aint big names they’ve scored goals so far. gotta say wel done pardew

  2. ish

    October 21, 2011 at 6:07 am

    i was honestly surprised when newcastle got cabaye. he is such a good player i assumed he would move to a top 3 side somewhere in europe. Add in tiote and newcastle have arguably the best midfield out of the powerhouse big 3 currently.

    quality in the wings with decent cover as well and up front demba ba was an inspired bargain(although after his time at west ham it should have been obvious).

    The only issue with newcastle is the fear of injuries to the midfield, after cabaye and tiote the quality drops of markedly. how good is newcastles first team? comfortably top 6. as long as they dont implode and maybe buy another midfielder they could make europa easy.

  3. FrankC

    October 20, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    Nice one Pardew. Champs league next season!!!

  4. Toon Jack

    October 20, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    Great article. I’m a Newcastle fan and I have to admit that I’m surprised by the way we’ve started he season. You’re right though, we shouldn’t get carried away. We haven’t played Liverpool, City, Chelsea or United yet but Pardews doing a great job so far. Spot on mate.

  5. Adam

    October 20, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    As a Toon supporter, Pardew has won we over and I was outraged when he was appointed. He did a good job last season with very limited options and this season has been fantastic to say the least. Full credit to him, the staff, and the players. Newcastle has some players in their team that may not grab the headlines as much but there is some real class mixed in the squad with a sprinkling of some great potential (Newcastle’s reserves are top of the reserve table and so is the academy) and some real grit too. All of a sudden there is that strong foundation that has not existed at Newcastle since Sir Bobby and long may it continue.

    • Jonny

      October 20, 2011 at 6:02 pm

      Have to agree with you on that one mate. Pardew has done a good job so far. He’s getting the best out of everyone and finally after all these years we seem to have a decent Premiership defence. Can’t wait till Ben Arfa gets back in team. Heard loads of people in France raving about him. Ginola rates him anyway.

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