Newcastle United were defeated 0-1 at the hands of Stoke City Saturday, their third such result in a row and the fourth time in the last five matches that they've failed to score. It was a poor performance that was perhaps not quite as poor as their several previous poor performances, if only because it would be hard to do much worse. Naturally, Alan Pardew was ready to explain his team's shortcomings once the final whistle blew.
Four defeats for Newcastle is going to bring its own pressure. I don’t think the local press have helped. Four defeats as a Newcastle manager, we have 10 senior players missing. It is a difficult hole to try to fill. [The fans'] frustration has boiled over a little bit. And we need to settle it down. The only way to settle it down is to get a win.
Many have (rightly) seized on the bit about the local press - does he expect them to sugarcoat 1 goal in 5 matches, 7 losses in 10, the second-least points obtained in the league since Boxing Day? This retort from the Sunday Sun captures the mood surrounding such an odd remark hilariously and accurately:
Alan Pardew's myriad excuses following losses have long been a sore spot for Newcastle fans - The Chronicle published a "Pardew Excuse Generator" long after many had done the same or similar on Twitter and in various forums. Part of it is purely annoyance. As boring and cliche as it can be, fans want to hear from the people that matter that a losing performance in unacceptable; that the team will be taking steps to right its wrongs. But in this case, the issue goes beyond public relations savvy (not a prerequisite for managing winning football, by the way) or an attempt to keep spirits up. Pardew has long ago gone off the deep end into self-delusion.
Most well-adjusted people tell little lies to themselves to get through the day. That's what makes them well-adjusted. "I'm happy enough with this job, even though it's not what I envisioned when I was young." "One more pie won't make me fat." "Everybody else in this town is a bad driver." The problem is that while these beliefs allow us to sleep at night, they inhibit growth. So it is with the manager of this football club.
It must be hard, as a former Manager of the Year who took a newly promoted club and restored it to its former glory (kind of), to look in the mirror and honestly assess the state of the team. There is a certain mirage-like quality to it, after all. They're going to finish in the top ten! All of the staff and players will get performance bonuses! They've improved on last year! Why on earth are people complaining?
This is how I imagine his inner monologue raged while sitting in the stands Saturday, listening to his away supporters chant for his head when the only difference between the two teams on the pitch was a stupid lucky goal from a player that coulda, shoulda been playing for him. So the local press, only recently having turned on manager and owner publicly, draw his ire. For a man who believes that money = intelligence (this is only a slight reduction, see this article in The Guardian), the connection is simple. The public opinion of him and his team's performance can only be a direct result of the influential media.
The problem, as I've been implying all along, is that if Pardew refuses to self-assess and, (more importantly) direct his players to self-assess, the team will go nowhere. The problem goes beyond the manager, as new Managing Director Lee Charnley appears to be perfectly content finishing somewhere in or close to the top ten each year, but if there's been any doubt that the manager must be replaced, Alan Pardew erased it by his own admission. I fear that the type of gaffer that is attracted to (or available for) a job working under Mike Ashley is just going to provide more of the same. However, the risk associated with hiring an Alan Curbishley-type (*shudder*) outweighs the benefit to holding onto a manager that will deflect deserved blame onto others, no matter how ridiculous the claim.
Newcastle United has reached its ceiling under Alan Pardew, and will not get there again under his leadership. They may not be able to do the same under any other available manager, especially as long as Mike Ashley and his yes-men run the front office. They must, however, try. The local press is not the problem, Mr. Pardew. You are.
- "I can't stop laughing at this lineup": An instant reaction to Stoke City 1, Newcastle United 0
- Loic Remy will not play this week; Newcastle nailed on for 0 goals
- Pick Your Poison: Ashley or Shepherd?
- Newcastle United Reshuffle Board; Nothing Changes
- Historically Mediocre: Newcastle United's shockingly bland season