Let me state up front that this is not a defense of Alan Pardew. At least, it is not to the extent that I want Pardew to remain the manager of Newcastle United. I am firmly in the Pardew Out camp and was before the recent run of disastrous results. As I put it on Twitter today:
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>To sum: My thesis is "Everything is terrible at Newcastle United and I am highly pessimistic of this changing anytime soon."</p>— Alan Hoffmann (@AlanHoffmann) <a href="https://twitter.com/AlanHoffmann/statuses/433719929510973440">February 12, 2014</a></blockquote>
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The fan base is clamoring for Pardew's firing and with good reason. Being outscored 10-0 in the last three is simply unacceptable. The three straight derby defeats are unacceptable (moreso because Newcastle's talent is far superior to Sunderland's. If it was equal, this might be overlooked to an extent). The tactical blunders, mismanagement of subs, and the fact that internationally capped players regress horribly all spell out that Alan Pardew should be shown the door.
BUT, would a managerial change solve Newcastle's problems?
A new manager might inject some life into the squad. He might utilize players correctly (a novelty) and even solidify Newcastle's position in the Top 8 (Newcastle currently hold a 9-point advantage over 10th place Swansea. They trail Southampton by two points). This would be all well and good, but my concern isn't with how Newcastle will finish this season. It's how will they do in the coming years.
The last two transfer windows have been terrible for Newcastle. Over the summer, only Loic Remy was brought in on loan. Newcastle may lose the French striker once the season ends. In January, Newcastle was only able to bring in Luuk de Jong, again on a loan that will last till the end of the year. From a team that finished 16th a year ago, Newcastle has brought in two players and sold one of its best play makers in Yohan Cabaye. This is a team that has faced depth issues for years and has not addressed them. Scoring depth is a major issue (Newcastle have a league-low 8 goal scorers on the campaign) but this current run of injuries has exposed Newcastle's lack of depth all the way down the pitch.
The blame for this does not lie solely on Alan Pardew. His board and owner have done nothing to help their manager. This is Pardew before the January window:
"The transfer window is open soon and that might be an opportunity for us to galvanise ourselves. I haven't really talked too much about the finance available but we've talked about players.
"We're making sure that we don't miss what might be a key signing. You look at the last two January windows, we've done good business. We brought in Papiss [Cissé] two years ago and that pushed us on and last year, in an emergency really, we had to take four or five, which we didn't really want to do but it still worked out well for us. So [the chief scout] Graham Carr, Joe, myself and the owner are very much on the ball for this January window. That is really the committee for transfers.
"We sit down and discuss and make sure we make the right decision for the club. The finance comes into that, of course, but so does selection of what I need. With Joe's knowledge of football he knows that the manager needs certain things and that has helped, in my opinion. I don't really want to say any more than that but I think that gives you a little bit of insight."
Getting one player in on loan cannot be what Pardew meant by the window being, "an opportunity to galvanize ourselves,". Selling Cabaye and bringing in de Jong cannot be, "the right decision for the club," unless it is strictly from a financial point of view. The club's coffers are full, but Mike Ashley has shown a steadfast refusal to use them in order to help his club on the pitch.
This is a song and dance that Newcastle go through seemingly every window. There are apparent needs, there are managerial requests, and then it's a lackluster window that often leaves more questions than answers.
So, my concern is, Newcastle sack Alan Pardew. They bring in a new manager. Then what?
Will Ashley support the new manager? Will he spend money this summer and bolster the squad? Will he add depth? And why would he do this for a new manager and not the one that he felt was deserving of an eight year contract? Pardew is Mike Ashey's guy. Not only did he give Pardew that contract, but he sacked the popular Chris Hughton to put Pardew in place. Pardew is not a good manager, but I feel that he isn't getting the players that he wants or needs. If you hamstring a great manager like this, you wouldn't expect great results. When you hamstring a subpar manager, well...we're witnessing it.
I wrote back in October that Newcastle is in a bad cycle that has no end in sight. There's no depth to the squad, so they crash out of cups and don't compete for Europe. Because of that, they don't get the corporate sponsorship that clubs like Chelsea or Manchester United get. And because of that, they don't bring in players. And so on and so on. I concluded that article by saying that this is something that may happen until Mike Ashley sells the club. Ashley is clearly putting the club's finances ahead of its table position at the moment, with the most frustrating part of it being that with some depth and a good manager, the money would roll in more than it already is.
I think a new manage could do a lot for this season. The club clearly needs a jumpstart, but should finish in the top half. But, as much as we'd be dancing in the streets to the news that Pardew is no longer the manager, with the Ashley regime still in place, I don't see how we're not having the same conversation three years from now.