Alan Pardew Week is almost at an end. It's Friday. Nothing was written about him. Chalk it up to Alan Pardew fatigue, to borrow one of the manager's favorite excuses. Everyone here at Coming Home Newcastle has written about why Pardew is not right for the club, why it is beyond time for him to go, and our frustrations are documented week in and week out. In short, there's nothing more to say.
Which, considering how we USED to feel about Alan Pardew is slightly amazing.
Winning covers all scars, and that was so true in the 2011-12 season. That was when Newcastle won 19 matches and secured a fifth place finish (missing out on a Top 3 finish thanks to dropping the last two matches of the season). The Magpies qualified for Europe in their second season back in top flight. It was also Pardew's first full season in charge. Given Newcastle's 12th place finish the year before, jumping up to fifth was quite the achievement. Newcastle rode the hot scoring of Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse through an exciting season. Even though the signs that this was not sustainable were there (only a plus 5 goal differential) it didn't matter. Newcastle were winning, and Pardew was enduring himself to the crowds at St. James' Park. On this very site, we used his pictures in game threads to note when we liked something. I remember being worried that England would poach him to manage their national team (Pardew declined any interest in the post), things were going incredibly well.
This in itself was an incredible turnaround for Pardew. When he came to Tyneside in December the year before, he was not trusted in the least. The still highly popular Chris Hughton had been sacked. Fans and pundits alike decried the move. After all, Hughton had just guided Newcastle to promotion with a 102-point season. When Hughton was sacked, Newcastle sat in 11th place. For a newly promoted club, it wasn't a terrible position. However, some lopsided losses, including 5-1 to Bolton and 3-1 to West Brom in Hughton's final game, say patience wear thin. and all of a sudden Hughton was out. Pardew was in.
And no one really knew what to make of him. Pardew's first game was a 3-1 win over Liverpool, but its not as if that kicked off an amazing run of form. Newcastle would win just six games under Pardew, finishing in 12th, one spot lower than they were when Hughton was sacked. But then, something clicked. Newcastle had some magic in them. The club didn't lose until November 19. From March through April, the Mags ripped off six straight wins, including a win over Liverpool. The side seemed to be feat or famine, either winning close matches or getting blown out. Among the score lines that season are losses like 4-0 to Wigan, 5-0 to Tottenham, 5-2 to Fulham, and 4-2 to Norwich. But, 19 wins and a place in Europe made all that seem irrelevant, at least in Mike Ashley's eyes. And that's where we got The Contract.
Fresh off the campaign where Pardew was awarded Premier League Manager of the Year as well as League Managers Association Manager of the Year, Pardew signed an 8-year contract extension. Seeking "stability" Newcastle put pen to paper and secured Pardew through 2020. Managing Director for the club, Derek Llambias, said of the signing, "If you look at clubs like Manchester United and Arsenal, Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger have shown that stability gives you the best platform to achieve success and that is the model we wish to emulate here." Still, in coaching, eight years is an eternity. Pardew is the second longest tenured manager in the Premier League. Wenger, who has been at Arsenal for 17 seasons, is the only manager to have over 8 years experience in the entire football league. Only two managers have over five years at their club. (Exeter Town's Paul Tilsdale is approaching 8 years). Should Pardew remain Tyneside for the remainder of his contract, he would spend a decade at the club.
You know the rest of the story. Newcastle staved off relegation the following season, and Pardew Out became popular. Though, with a disastrous run of injuries on top of a decent run in Europa League, some were willing to give Pardew some benefit of the doubt. This season, Newcastle finished 10th, but given the horrid run of form in the last half of the season, it could hardly be called an achievement. Despite the calls for Pardew's sacking getting louder and louder (to the point where Pardew spent the last home game almost entirely seated, as he was booed every time he stood), the Newcastle board have stood by him. It may have more to do with business than anything football related. Mike Ashley is frugal above all else. Six years of buy out would be a tough pill to swallow.
And so we wait. We wait to see what this transfer window brings and if Pardew can make it work. We wait to see if he has one more twist in his tale. We wait to see if Pardew could win the terraces back with a good campaign, or if the bridge has been burned for good.