With Chris Hughton’s office barely cleared, Alan Pardew was yesterday appointed as Newcastle’s new manager. His contract, a sizeable five-and-a-half-year deal, is a far cry from the rolling contract which Mike Ashley handed out to Hughton, the manager whose tenure came to an abrupt end earlier this week.
Newly promoted Newcastle currently sit 12th in the table, four points above the drop zone but just four points below European qualification. The dismissal of Hughton, the man who steered Newcastle to promotion before guiding them to 19 points in 16 games, has been condemned as short-sighted and “stupid”
Judging by the initial reaction, the appointment of Pardew has done little to placate that rage; the former Reading, West Ham and Southampton boss scored a paltry 5.5% on a recent poll of over 40,000 fans. The length of his contract has intensified the sense of puzzlement on Tyneside – only thee of nineteen managers have been at their current club for at least five years. “I wanted to be tough on the length of contract,” said Pardew. He continued “and give myself as much stability at a club that hasn’t had much stability with managers.”
Pardew, who himself felt unjustly treated when he left Southampton in August, has been quick to realise just how divisive his appointment has been. His first actions have been to try and enlist the support of Newcastle’s colossal fan base: “I understand what this club means to its supporters. Throughout the football world people recognise that this is a unique club in many ways, with supporters who are second to none in their loyalty, passion and devotion for the team. I’m not a Geordie, of course, but I’m a football person with a love of the game and I can assure you I bring great drive, desire and commitment to the job.”
The one time Charlton manager continued in this vein, admitting “It’s fairly obvious the players and fans had tremendous respect for Chris and the fact he’s gone has caused something of a stir. Managers have come and gone here. It doesn’t bode well so I’m trying to say I will work as hard as I possibly can here to get a situation where I can bring some longevity to the job.”
One immediate issue for Pardew to consider will be how he should deal with outspoken defender Sol Campbell. The former Arsenal and England star was particularly vociferous in the aftermath of Hughton’s departure. Pardew will now be hoping to establish a working relationship with the veteran centre-back, just one of a host of sceptics over the last week’s developments on Tyneside.