Newcastle United were in the news again today. It was not for losing yet another derby. It was not for anything the club actively did. Newcastle United were the butt of all of the "Bet Newcastle are sorry they chased Alan Pardew off hurrrrr" jokes that you knew were coming our way the moment that our former head man cleared the doorway at St. James' Park. Crystal Palace has beaten Manchester City 2-1 (Yes, the same Manchester City that Pardew lost to 3-1, 3-1, 2-0, 4-0, 4-0, 2-0, 2-0, 2-0 during his time at Newcastle) and we are now meant to feel very badly about ourselves for saying mean things about The Man Who Would Have Been King (had the Geordies not been so bleeding unreasonable). At the end of the day, though, the success that Pardew is having at Crystal Palace was every bit as foreseeable as it does not change what happened with Pardew at Newcastle.
Alan Pardew's record over the last 12 months of his tenure at Newcastle was abysmal. Relegation form over 12 months. Our bacon was saved only by the fact that this relegation form was split over two seasons and the annual Alan Pardew of the Month Award (November) was enough on two occasions to keep us relatively out of trouble. Outside of November, nothing can change the level of mediocrity and terribleness that he managed to achieve at St. James' Park. If we operate on the understanding that Alan Pardew is as Alan Pardew does, we are left to look for a different explanation for the discrepancy between his results at Newcastle and his results thus far at Crystal Palace.
Alan Pardew manages to start off hot
Alan Pardew's first match in charge of Newcastle United was a 3-1 victory over Liverpool. He would end the 2010-11 season in decent form and then followed the 2011-12 season. Oh, that magical season. This, however, was nothing new to Pardew who has a track record of starting with a fair bit of success early in tenures before he cools off and ultimately fades down the league table. This has been hashed and rehashed within the Toon Army. There are a couple of realities that have influenced the difference in Pardew's results between Palace and Newcastle.
We never replaced Andy Carroll
Pardew frequently (and over years) bemoaned the fact that Andy Carroll was never replaced. Many of us never dug into this in earnest. It's not that we didn't bring in another striker. We didn't bring in – and keep – that TYPE of striker. We did bring in Demba Ba for that magical 2011-12 season, but when we sold him to Chelsea, Alan Pardew didn't have the stiker that could control the long balls out of defense, and then create for himself or others. In today's Palace/City match, Glenn Murray was the most perfect example of what Pardew was missing at Newcastle. Murray was everything that Papiss Cisse cannot be. That Ayoze Perez cannot be. That Emmanuel Riviere has not been. He was Leon Best. He was Andy Carroll. He wore out Manchester City's CBs in the air and ultimately put home the opener that Pardew never could find with Newcastle. Outside of missing that one player, Newcastle's squad is better than Crystal Palace's. Pardew was always too stubborn to prevent himself from pressing a tactic for which he didn't have the players. But there still was enough quality in the NUFC squad that he should not have achieved at such a low level over so much time.
The players must be accountable
We accept that there is talent in the squad. We accept that, in spite of Pardew's stubbornness and unwillingness to play a style that matched the players at his disposal, the players should have been better than what they were under him. The players have been no better (except maybe Remy Cabella) under John Carver – although he has played the same tactics for much of his time in charge – which leaves us needing to understand that whatever drives the players who wear the Newcastle United shirt isn't enough. Moussa Sissoko is playing for a new club... but his performances haven't earned him that attention. Some players are just not good enough and we've had to rely too heavily on some of those. This is a bit of an evasion, however. Many of those players (Mike Williamson, Steven Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini, Tim Krul) played integral roles in the 2011-12 season and every season since. We are better at other positions. Daryl Janmaat >> Danny Simpson for instance. As evidenced by the derby, these players won't play for the shirt. They evidently have trouble motivating themselves with their professional pride. Ultimately, they have a part of the blame to hold for Alan Pardew's ultimate failing at Newcastle United. However, the lion's share of blame must and will always go to Pardew, his stubbornness and inability to adapt.