Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughPardew's success as Newcastle shouldn't come as much of a surprise - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Pardew's success as Newcastle shouldn't come as much of a surprise - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Pardew’s success as Newcastle shouldn’t come as much of a surprise

There is something rather peculiar going on up in Newcastle currently and we’re not talking about THAT stadium name change or the lack of shirt-wearing in the crowd (that’s always peculiar.

What we’re focusing on here is the achievements Alan Pardew is producing and the twin surprises of him not being overly linked with the imminent vacant poison chalice at FA HQ and the dawning realisation of many that this bubble does not look as if it will burst anytime soon.

The former can be explained most likely by the “if-you-mention-it-often-enough-no-one-will-think-up-an-alternative” approach to the England job by Harry “court-case-pending” Redknapp and the latter by the perceived wisdom that a squad depleted by the African Cup of Nations and was not expensively assembled and full of big names cannot keep up their first half of the season form.

However, as Sunday’s win over, an admittedly rather awful, QPR showed, Pardew can make tactical changes to cope with the loss of Demba Ba and squad players can step up to the plate (note Danny Guthrie taking on the Cheik Tiote role on Sunday). Besides, wasn’t the bubble meant to burst when they played the top three in successive games back in November? But nope, they’re still there in the top six and gunning for Europe.

And so much of this ongoing, relative success can be put down to one of the most underrated English managers around, one that has produced results at nearly all of the clubs he has been at and one who wasn’t even wanted by the majority of Newcastle fans in the first place. Throw in the fact he has made (or been forced to make) large scale outgoing transfers, large both in the quantity of cash received and the influence of the departing players, and replace them, with the aid of a superb scouting network, to the improvement of the team.

Add it all up and it makes him easily the stand out candidate for manager of the season, for this observer anyway.

His success at Newcastle really shouldn’t come as a shock; he was already a successful manager, accustomed to winning, near enough everywhere he has been in his decade-long managerial career.

Promotions with Reading in 2003 and West Ham in 2005, four play-off place finishes, including one victory, with those two clubs (it would have been five with the addition of Southampton in 2010 were it not for their 10 point deduction that season), an FA Cup final appearance in 2006 and a Football League Trophy win in 2010.

Coupled with these successes was an attacking style of football that pleased the fans whilst also showing a knack of reinvigorating an entire club that had been in the doldrums; notably at Reading and Southampton. Less notable and more forgettable was his spell at Charlton, probably his only failure as a manager.

While his achievements in the past showcased his capabilities, what prevented him from moving on to bigger and even better things may well have been his numerous run-ins with his employers, other managers and fans leading to an image issue regarding his humility, or lack of it.

A very public falling out with Reading over his desire to move to West Ham in 2003 was followed up by bust-ups with Arsene Wenger, twice, and Iain Dowie during his spell at the Hammers, disparaging comments aimed at West Ham fans after his departure there, this cringe-worthy in its clumsiness incident on Match of the Day 2 in March 2009 and a sacking at Southampton last year amid reports of a falling out between Pardew and Chairman Nicola Cortese.

As Pardew has matured as a manager, he would appear to have mellowed and let his players on the pitch do the talking for him. Given the right chance, he has the potential to be the best English manager around. Time is on his side, having only just reached the half century mark in years.

 As this season’s evidence shows, that right chance might just be where he is now. If he was given the time at Newcastle, a club not known for long-term managerial projects in recent years, to realise this potential, that may well be the biggest surprise of all.

Daniel Whiteway

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