Is Alan Pardew Really An Improvement On Chris Hughton?
As we cross the cusp from morning to afternoon, it is being widely reported that Newcastle are within hours of appointing Alan Pardew as their new manager, following owner Mike Ashley‘s seemingly illogical decision to sack Chris Hughton from his post on Monday.
According to nearly all of the foremost bastions of the British media, Pardew will be named as Hughton’s successor at some point during the next 24-48 hours, as we wait for the culmination of the ‘advanced talks’ that are currently being held between the two parties at St James’ Park.
It is further understood that a five-and-a-half year deal has been placed on the table for Pardew, with a relatively low wage that is said to have been ‘highly-incentivized’ by loading the contract with a multitude of performance-related bonuses.
Hughton’s sacking, which has been met with blanket scorn from the footballing community at large, was prompted by Ashley’s desire to install a ‘more experienced’ (his words, not mine) man at the helm of the club into which he has poured £200 million of his personal fortune – and, considering that Pardew has a 500-game, four-club managerial career behind him, the devil’s advocate in me can just about vindicate his appointment in Hughton’s wake.
However, Pardew’s 11-year career isn’t exactly dripping with plaudits, with most of his success coming early on in guiding Reading and West Ham to a high-ranking Championship finish and a promotion to the Premier League (via the play-offs) respectively.
His crowning achievement was arguably piloting the Hammers (who were mired in tumultuous mid-decade upheaval at the time) to the 2005/06 FA Cup final, in which they lost out narrowly to Liverpool in extra-time, thanks to a belting strike from a visibly knackered Steven Gerrard – and that’s about it really.
Pardew was duly sacked by West Ham in December 2006 after guiding them to their worst run of results in 70 years and, a fortnight later, took over at 19th-placed Charlton – who went on to finish up in…well, in 19th place.
Despite being touted as favourites for an instant return to the top table, Charlton rapidly descended back into second-tier obscurity under Pardew’s charge and he was forced out of the Valley ‘by mutual consent’ in late 2008.
The following summer, Pardew was sworn in at nouveau riche League One hopefuls Southampton and, despite battling admirably against the effects of a pre-season 10-point deduction, he and his staff were jettisoned after narrowly missing out on a play-off spot amidst rumours of cripplingly player low morale, hierarchical conflicts and increasing isolation at St Mary’s.
And here we are.
The question I’d like to put to Ashley is whether he’s just chasing a cheap Cockney knees-up with one of his old chums, or whether he actually considers ‘periodical middling’ mixed with a healthy dose of ‘ill-fated lower-league slumming’ to constitute the ‘necessary experience’ needed to ‘take Newcastle forward’?
I guess technically it does, in so much as that any back-story technically constitutes experience – though Chris Hughton may feel aggrieved that single-handedly rescuing an imploding giant from the brink of ‘belly-up’, achieving the instant promotion back to the big-time that Pardew failed to negotiate at Charlton and punching his weight in the Premier League with a squad that was all-but completely written off not so very long ago (all within the space of 18 months) somehow does not.
The mind boggles, it really does.