Mike Ashley once again shocked the footballing world this week, replacing manager Chris Hughton with the comparatively unpopular Alan Pardew. Yet it is the length of the contract, a colossal five-and-a-half-year deal, more so than the choice of successor that shocks Greg Simkins.
Amidst the tumult on Tyneside, it is easy to forget that Pardew is a talented manager. Prior to sullying his name through his failure to prevent Charlton’s relegation, Pardew took newly-promoted West Ham to the FA Cup final; a trophy that they would have won, had it not been for a stoppage time thunderbolt from Steven Gerrard. Clearly, Pardew has pedigree. Nevertheless, Mike Ashley’s decision to hand him a 66 month deal is little short of incomprehensible – given the Newcastle owner’s reticence to offer the outgoing Hughton anything other than a rolling deal.
Just three other Premier League managers have been at their club for such a lengthy period: Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger and David Moyes. For Ashley, the man who has overseen six managers in three years, to believe that Pardew’s sojourn at Newcastle will buck the Tyneside trend of interchangeable managers appears little more than wishful thinking. Messrs’ Ferguson, Wenger and Moyes have benefited from patient and understanding chairmen, two traits that Ashley has not previously shown to possess in abundance.
Pardew himself is more optimistic at the prospect of extended stay at the Newcastle helm: “I