Newcastle United, as an organization, were a very testy bunch leading up to Saturday's clash with West Ham United. Just days after banning Luke Edwards and the rest of the Telegraph staff from access to the team for reporting on a possible "rift" between the English and French players on the team, they released a statement expressing their dismay about a report in The Sun that Hatem Ben Arfa was spotted training in a PSG top. It was only natural, then, that Alan Pardew would follow in the footsteps of the front office, unleashing some crankiness of his own after the team managed a 0-0 draw with West Ham.
It was a very important performance because there was a lot of myths and reporting that was unfair on us and we had to show that wasn't the case and that we were a strong team and have got spirit in the group. We had to show that today because coming here so many balls are put in your box and you've got to show real determination and we did that all day. We said on Thursday that some of the reporting had been a disgrace and the reporters should be ashamed of themselves. There is no foundation to it. But the only way we can answer that is by our performance and that performance I think put that to bed. Whether we are good enough to stay up, we have to show that now in terms of our quality but lack of spirit, lack of fight, that was there in leaps and bounds today and we will take that to QPR.
I'm not going to kill Pardew over some dodgy grammar or a possible Freudian slip. I'm sure he meant to say that there was plenty of spirit and fight in the team, not the lack thereof. Nevertheless, it takes a bit of hubris to take one's detractors to task after a performance like the one Newcastle produced Saturday, because the team in fact did show a lack of fight and spirit in the last 30 or so minutes, as has been typical all season long. I think Pardew knows that, too, despite his claim that they showed determination "all day." He told us so:
It's a great win for Wigan and it's put extra pressure on us but you can only do what you can and I thought we were terrific in the first half.
Indeed, it was a terrific first half. They even scored (probably). I'm not a member of the #PardewOut club, and I'm starting to feel like one of the only holdouts. However, to play one half of good football, sit back and play negatively for the second half, and then pat yourself on the back will not win friends and influence people. There's a time and a place for chest-thumping, and it's not after a 0-0 draw to bring the team's point total to 38 in May.
Perhaps it's not the time for throwing players under the bus, either. Pardew's job after the last week has to be letting his players know that if it's them vs. the media, he's on their side. It's probably not an easy tightrope to walk, appeasing players on one hand and managing public expectations on the other - but that doesn't mean he's not responsible for doing both.