With his team trailing 3-1 at home to Newcastle United, Hull midfielder David Meyler chased an errant ball into the away side’s dugout desperately looking to get his side back into the game. In the heat of the moment, Meyler shoved Toon boss Alan Pardew out of the way to get to the ball, an action for which he was booked. In reaction, Alan Pardew walked towards Meyler and clearly butted his head into the Ireland internationals.
The incident drew scorn from everyone in the footballing community. Sent to the stands, Pardew knew as soon as he committed the offence that he was in very hot water. Even Newcastle legend Alan Shearer commented that it would be very difficult for Pardew to keep his job given the circumstances.
Yet for reasons known only to the Newcastle United board, Pardew was merely fined £100,000 and given a formal warning, instead of being sacked.
The reason being, but not being said, is that Pardew is two years into an unprecedented eight year contract. The pay-out for dismissing the London born boss would be astronomical. However, it is arguable that the former Charlton manager’s behaviour would give Mike Ashley the opportunity to tear up his contract without needing to compensate.
It wouldn’t be a shock if the Newcastle owner quietly asked Pardew to resign, but the former West Ham manager is smart enough to know that once the episode blows over, he’ll be coming out the other side with his job still in tact. His reputation on the other hand, is a different story.
If this were Pardew’s first offence, many could probably call it a moment of madness. However, it is not.
The 52 year old has a slew of previous misdemeanours. Pardew has had confrontations with Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger on numerous occasions, including a shoving match that ensured between the two after Pardew excessively celebrated a West Ham goal in 2006. Pardew himself pushed an official during an opening day game against Tottenham Hotspur in 2012.
At the start of the year the former Crystal Palace midfielder launched a foul-mouthed verbal tirade at Manchester City boss Manual Pellegrini, only apologising after being caught on Sky Sports cameras.
With all of this in mind, surely Alan Pardew had learnt his lesson? Apparently not.
With everything that has gone on at Newcastle this year – the arrival of Joe Kinnear, disastrous summer and January transfer windows, the dismissal of Joe Kinnear, and a mixed bag of results – the achievement of two positive wins against Aston Villa and Hull have been cruelly but rightfully swept under the carpet in favour of intense media focus on the head butt fiasco.
As he always does, Pardew apologised profusely in his post-match interview. It’s all too common to see him spout the words “sorry”, only to see him slip back into his old ways.
As for the players, how are they meant to react? How can Pardew possibly reprimand a player for their actions when he cannot control his own?
Simply put, he can’t. Should a player receive a red card for reckless or violent play, Pardew is not in a position to judge. The long term repercussion of Saturday’s incident is a probable loss of respect for their manager who himself has endured a topsy-turvy spell on Tyneside.
As Henry Winter astutely noted in his article for The Guardian, “Pardew does not only have a responsibility to Newcastle, and his union, the League Managers Association. He also has a duty, whether he likes it or not, to English football and needs to understand that his conduct can shape behaviour elsewhere”.
Alan Pardew now must learn his lesson. He surely will when the F.A throw the book at him later this month following his charge.
Pardew has always stated that it’s his passion which makes him the way he is. Ten years ago, Sir Bobby Robson was the manager of Newcastle United. Sir Bobby Robson was a man of great passion with the strongest of bonds with Newcastle United, much stronger than Pardew. You’d never catch him dropping his head into an opposition player.
Will Pardew learn to keep his cool? Did Newcastle do enough to punish their unruly manager? And how hard will the FA come down on him?