Alan Pardew unleashed a whopper of a comment following Newcastle's 2-1 loss to Swansea City on Saturday, and it got me wondering about all of the nutty things he's said to the press over the years. As I searched through the archives, I found nine that stand out to me as particularly ludicrous, and I have a feeling that if I'd kept digging, I would have found more. I didn't consider insensitive comments made on the pitch at West Ham or while working for BBC. Nor have I included sideline confrontations with Arsene Wenger, Manuel Pellegrini, Martin O'Neill, David Meyler, assistant referee Peter Kirkup, or anybody else. Every one of these comments was made in front of a television camera or to a journalist holding a pen and paper, with the full knowledge that said comments would then be disseminated for public consumption. Here they are:
9. "Flying the flag for Britain" - 10 March 2006
I saw a headline saying Arsenal are flying the flag for Britain. I kind of wondered where that British involvement actually was when I looked at their team. It's important that top clubs don't lose sight of the fact that it's the English Premier League and English players should be involved. Foreign players have been fantastic. We have learned from them and from foreign coaches. But, to some extent, we could lose the soul of British football - the English player. We have a young team at West Ham and we are proud we have so many Englishmen. The soul of this team will remain with at least three or four English players as long as I am West Ham. I think that's important, I really do.
This one is funny in the sense that the same charge could be levied against Pardew today (and such a comment would be just as xenophobic now as it was then). Of course, he did say that his policy wouldn't change while he was in charge of West Ham, so technically he's not a hypocrite.
8. "The chairman wants to be a bit risky" - 31 May 2011
It’s always fraught with dangers and difficulties. We won’t play safe. We could play safe and finish 14th or 15th in the season for the next 4 or 5 years, but where is the ambition in that? It won’t inspire me, the fans or the chairman. The chairman wants to be a bit risky about it, and to hope that we can get players that can take us a lot better than that. That is what we are trying to find. I think next year will be difficult for us. The euphoria of promotion has gone. We will suddenly start thinking we are Premier League people, and we could get a nasty surprise, so we need to make sure we don’t start the season like that. We need to get momentum and improve on our squad by bringing in some key offensive players. We need a bit of pace in the team and if we do that we will see where it takes us.
That Pardew is constantly in the dark about his own team's transfer policy has become a running joke, but he revealed that he knew absolutely nothing about his boss when he asserted that Mike Ashley would (a) show ambition, and (b) make risky financial decisions. Pards would probably point out that Newcastle finished 5th the year after he made this statement, but I would point out that they were lucky, and we would go round and round in circles.
7. "Southampton...are in a much stronger financial position than us." - 7 August 2013
When you look at the teams now and the money that’s being spent, you have to be honest and say it’s going to be difficult replicating that fifth-place finish. But our ambition must be to try to do that. Demba (Ba) went to Chelsea, and that was a big blow for us last year. I think the fact that we never really replaced him got missed a little bit. We brought in (Yoan) Gouffran, but we weren’t really able to replace Demba like for like. If I can replace Demba into this team, I think this team is stronger than the one that finished fifth. But I think the task of finishing in the top five is more difficult for us because of the growth of some of the other clubs who were just below us. In particular, Liverpool and Spurs have spent a lot of money, and other clubs such as Swansea and Southampton have coordinated their financial strength really well. You look at a club like Southampton, and they’re in a much stronger financial position than us in terms of purchasing players. Even though my team might be slightly stronger on paper once we replace Demba – team and squad – it’ll be even more difficult to get fifth. I’m very proud to be manager of this club, and I don’t say that lightly. There’s so many things that excite me about being here. When things have happened in the past and you might question certain things that have gone on, the overriding strength of this club is that I know I am the manager of a very big club, I think one of the biggest in the Premier League. Therefore, my vision and my philosophy must be to bring success, and I must drive that regardless of what obstacles get in my way. If there’s an obstacle in my way, I just have to jump over it. I think I’m the second longest serving Premier League manager, and longest serving manager at this club since Sir Bobby Robson. I’ve kind of earned my spurs, and sometimes in adversity I think the fans admire you more. I like to think last year I didn’t buckle and wasn’t negative about the players, the fans or the club. I just got us over the line, and I think that was very important last year. I’m hoping I’ll get the rewards of that this year. I like to think the fans understood I was honest and respectful when we finished fifth, and when we finished 16th.
Hoo boy. There's a lot here. From Pardew's transfer strategy (replace Demba Ba - recall that this interview took place in August) to his assertion that he's "earned his spurs" and everything in between (apparently he's never been negative), this interview provided enough material to fill columns and blog posts for weeks. The headline, however, was his head-scratching misunderstanding of Newcastle's financial situation. Neither Southampton nor Swansea have the income or expenditures that Newcastle United do, so the soundbite was easily dismissed as Alan Pardew preemptively making excuses for a season that was yet to get started, or more accurately, for his and Joe Kinnear's failings in the transfer window. With one breath, he assuages the fans in his own mind (they admire him for overcoming the adversity of the self-created nightmare of 2012-13, after all), and scores points with his current and one of his former employers. By the way, we're still waiting for the next Demba Ba, and Newcastle turned a profit last year.
6. "Waffle that is nowhere near the truth" - 30 December 2005
The one thing I hate about other managers is waffle that is nowhere near the truth. I would never conduct myself like that. My honest assessment of the Newcastle game is that we were great and, but for a few errors that were clinically punished by Michael Owen, we would have won with a bit to spare. Standing on the side watching our team outplay and outmanoeuvre Newcastle, and listening to the comments coming from their bench and the frustration of how the game was unfolding, it was ironic to hear Graeme Souness say afterwards that our two centre-halves were scared. I thought that was complete nonsense. He should have known better than to criticise players on the opposite team.
On 17 December 2005, Michael Owen scored a hat trick as Graeme Souness' Newcastle United defeated Alan Pardew's West Ham United 4-2 at The Boleyn Ground. Souness, happy with his striker's performance, suggested that West Ham's defenders were "scared" of Owen's pace, and Pardew hit back with the quote you see above. It's somehow comforting and alarming all at the same time to discover that Alan has always been inflating his own team's performances, thinking that if he blows enough smoke about his squads being unlucky or just short, the fans will follow suit. In other words, here we have yet another example of Alan Pardew's waffle.
5. "A different type of catchment area" - 28 March 2014
[Southampton] have a huge catchment area and it's a different type of catchment area. There is a big working-class community down there but there are also a lot of middle-class kids who have good educations. The players who come out of Southampton are quite intelligent and there might be something in that. We have to put more intelligence into our players here. That's another side of the academy. It's very important to not just look after the football side of it but to also bring the right personalities through. We want them to be level-headed. Look at Bale, Walcott, Lallana, Shaw, they're all comfortable with the media, they're all together sort of guys. That's not down to location. That's down to education.
Ever eager to praise Southampton at every chance, Pardew took the opportunity to wage a little class warfare at the North East's expense prior to Newcastle's match with the Saints less than a month ago. At the end, he denies that the argument he has constructed based on location and class is not so, but the real offense is in the presumptive attitude it must take to evaluate players on their intelligence less than a month after a headbutting a player on the pitch.
4. "I don't think the local press have helped" - 12 April 2014
Four defeats for Newcastle is going to bring its own pressure. I don’t think the local press have helped.
The North East press have not exactly been Pardew's biggest advocates in recent weeks, and part of it might just be the four defeats in a row that he mentions here. Perhaps he had The Chronicle's "Pardew Excuse Generator" in mind when he made the press his latest excuse for a poor Newcastle performance.
3. "I don't really care if Arsenal win 4-0" - 12 May 2013
I don’t really care if Arsenal win 4-0 [next weekend], if I’m honest. I’m sure Spurs will, but I only care that our fans enjoy themselves.
Newcastle had finally achieved safety one week from the end of the season last year, and some reporter asked Pardew how his team would perform in the final weekend against Arsenal, who were leading Tottenham Hotspur in the race for a Champions League place by just one point. It's easy to see what he was trying to say - something along the lines of "I'm just happy we're safe; nothing else matters," but the quote takes on new meaning in light of the way this year's team quit as soon as it was evident that everybody would be collecting their top-half finish bonuses.
2. "We put in more effort" - 8 December 2011
It just goes to show how important these refereeing decisions are. The biggest problem from the referee's decision that changed the game was that we put in more effort against Chelsea than we've done in any other game this season and that has cost us injuries to Taylor and Guthrie. It's left us up against it. I'd have felt really confident going into this period of the season if I had my full squad available but I haven't.
In the 4th minute of what would eventually be a 0-3 loss to Chelsea, David Luiz committed what was by most neutral accounts a red card offense on Demba Ba, but Mike Dean declined to give a foul, probably because of the unwritten (and really dumb) rule that players shouldn't be sent off in the opening stages of a match. Steven Taylor would later rupture his Achilles' tendon, and Alan Pardew was livid that his players had to play against 11 men, which apparently made them work harder and led to Taylor's injury.
1. "I would have stopped that last goal" - 19 April 2014
I'm pretty sure I would have stopped that last goal if I'd have been there.
I still haven't figured out what Pardew was trying to say here. Was he watching the match?
BONUS: "Science against me" - 4 January 2014
For the last three years I don’t know, it’s science against me.