The roller coaster that is the relationship between Newcastle United support and Premier League manager of the year double winner/shittest manager ever is taking another turn. Perhaps never the most reviled of the Cockney Mafia yet still not explicitly trusted, Pardew has largely suffered from a) the fact that he replaced popular figure Chris Hughton and b) the fact that, following a 5th place league finish, his name was most directly imprinted upon a team that was not reinforced nearly enough and suffered tremendously through injuries during an increased fixture list due to the Europa League. Historically, clubs not named Everton who qualify for the Europa League struggle mightily in the Premier League that same season. We really should not have been too surprised at the results. This isn't to say that Alan Pardew and his (apparent) patent lack of tactical acumen and adherence to a formation that was not being played correctly (4-2-3-1) for one reason or another were in no way to blame for last season's staggering failures. As with most things, the truth likely sits somewhere in the middle of the two seasons - whether that is good enough will remain to be seen. If Pardew were subject to popularity polls, however, his numbers likely couldn't have been much lower than they were at the conclusion of the 2012-13 season.
Enter Mike Ashley. Somehow his business philosophy so far as Newcastle United appears to include a minimum level of distrust for the management structure within the fan base. Although I'm not entirely certain this was purposely established (I genuinely think he misestimated many of the facets of running a club in addition to, inexplicably, exactly what financial state the club were in when he purchased it), it has seemed to be an ingrained part of the tactic with which he has moved forward. You've got the club sitting near the top of the league in November 2011? Let's change the stadium name. The support are starting to warm a bit to Derek Llambias? Ship him out and bring in someone reviled by the support base. Enter Joe Kinnear to do whatever it is that he is actually doing. Rumors run rampant that a shadow management team is being installed over the top of Alan Pardew to facilitate a sort of coups d'etat to force Alan Pardew and his 8 year contract out the door. Poor Alan Pardew. Suddenly, Pardew is not public enemy no. 1 anymore. Suddenly, the press coverage of Alan Pardew takes on a different tenor. Now, when Alan Pardew says "I'm pushing Joe to sign someone" there is a certain amount of fist waving and "rawr rawr rawr get him Pards!" that goes along with it.
Today, we're looking at the same thing. Alan Pardew quotes from today. Read them carefully:
"I think initially people thought Joe was definitely babysitting for me here, for things not to go well and Joe to become manager," said Pardew in The Times.
"I think that's what people's first perception was. And I have to say it was a perception I was a bit concerned about, too."
Do you feel it? Not specifically yet? Try these on:
I needed to speak to Mike and Joe about that and say, 'I was given an eight-year contract here and I don't want any interference'.
"Joe now fits in there. But he can't interfere with me managing the team and I won't let him. I made it very clear to Joe."
There it is. The little rush of blood that accompanies a positive emotional response? The little mental voice that says: "Yeah, Pards! Don't stand for that!"?
Establish a new target so that one unpopular decision can be lessened by the equal and opposite reaction. Name Wonga as the long-term shirt sponsor so that they can be the conquering hero, arrived in town to set things right and remove the blight of Sports Direct Arena from St. James' Park. A repeated pattern of behavior, a display of classical conditioning of Pavlovian proportions. One has the sneaking suspicion that somewhere Mike Ashley is doing his best Danny DeVito/Penguin impression:
You've got to admit I played this stinkin' city like a harp from hell!
--Mike Ashley, probably