Alan Pardew sat down with Goals on Sunday on Sky Sports this weekend, and the resulting interview generated plenty of talking points. The nature of his professional relationship with Joe Kinnear was clarified (sort of), he said some true things that are nonetheless things one shouldn't say about one's boss, and engaged in some light disparagement of one of his former clubs.
All of that is interesting, and each item is probably deserving of its own treatment. What I find most fascinating, however, is that Alan Pardew appears to have joined the "Newcastle aren't English enough" camp. The influx of French players over the last several transfer windows has led some to wonder if the foreign influence in the dressing room was becoming too great, an issue that came to a head in April when Luke Edwards reported on a "rift" between English-speaking players and the obvious alternative. The club denied the report, stating that all players were required to learn English, and that was that - with the exception of a vocal group of pundits and fans who are apparently having a hard time accepting the fact that England is no longer the center of the football world. We can now add Alan Pardew to that group:
Hopefully [Director of Football Joe Kinnear] can get the message to [Owner Mike Ashley] on the one or two issues I think we do need to address. One is that I think we're going to need to look at British players quickly, because we're starting to get filled up with perhaps too many foreign players, and I think we need to strengthen the team, maybe in January as well.
The language of being "filled up" with foreign players is an interesting turn of phrase. It's possible that Pardew is referring to Newcastle's compliance with the FA's Home Grown Player rule, but NUFC aren't in any danger of violating that and HGPs don't have to be English anyway. It's safe to assume that he knows this.
So what are the alternative explanations for his current stance on this issue? Is there really a rift? Are there specific players causing problems? Is communication to blame for the many defensive miscues so far this season? Or (and I'm just spitballing here) could Pardew be repeating a talking point that people want to hear because it's a Sunday morning show during the international break and who cares anyway?
Perhaps it's some combination of the above or some other issue. Maybe Pardew wants Roy Hodgson's job when he moves on. In any case, the interview doesn't mean that we're going to see a sudden emphasis on English talent in January. For starters, the club is still in "sell before buying" mode, and aside from Yohan Cabaye the player most likely to move on might just be Gabriel Obertan, so there may be no money available (again). Additionally, Pardew has publicly stated his wishes and desires regarding transfers in the media before, with little to no effect. It's hard to imagine that a world where the typical British player comes at a premium price relative to players from the rest of the continent and a world where Mike Ashley is the penny-pinching owner of a discount sportswear retailer could coexist in the same universe.