Alan Pardew has made an impressive impact thus far in his Newcastle United tenure. Now, he’ll have longer than even he could have dreamed to work on restoring the Toon Army to its former glory.
Pardew signed a historic eight-year contract yesterday which will keep him at St James’s Park the Sports Direct Arena until 2020. The move signals a significant change of focus for a team which has had eight permanent managers – Pardew included – in as many years. The deal is the longest offered to a manager in English football’s living memory.
The Wimbledon-born former West Ham and Charlton manager is already the ninth longest-serving boss in the Premier League despite having been in charge on Tyneside for under two years. It is exactly that trend that Newcastle owner Mike Ashley now appears determined to break away from.
As well as Pardew, several of his coaching staff – assistant manager John Carver, first team coach Steve Stone and goalkeeping coach Andy Woodman – have been given eight-year deals to join Graham Carr, the 67-year-old chief scout, who signed a contract of the same length in June.
When one considers the point Newcastle were at when Pardew was controversially brought in to replace Chris Hughton, there may be few more deserving bosses in the Premier League right now of that long extension. Pardew has more than continued Hughton’s mission of re-establishing the club as a Premier League staple; he’s driven them on to their highest league finish since 2004 and completed some incredible transfers, most notably the capture of Papiss Cisse for just £8m last January and Demba Ba in the summer of 2011 – for nothing. And don’t forget crafty French midfielder, Yohan Cabaye, one of the most positively reviewed Premier League arrivals of last season, was a similar snip at £4.3m.
Let’s be realistic for a second, though. What are the chances of Pardew seeing through the next eight years at St Ja- sorry, the Sports Direct Arena? What else is there for him to do?
Being realistic, Pardew can’t take Newcastle any further than fifth; indeed, he would do well to get them that high on a regular basis. The likes of the Manchester clubs, Chelsea, and at least for now Arsenal and Liverpool are beyond Newcastle’s reach (though the latter two are subject to ongoing analysis). Pardew might be able to beat one of those teams – and the likes of Tottenham and Everton, don’t forget – and it will be Liverpool this year. But can he do any better than that?
Ashley and managing director Derek Llambias should be praised for trying to stick by a manager who has worked miracles for them and build the stability the club has lacked for so long. Llambias was quoted on the BBC Sport website yesterday as saying “stability gives [a club] the best platform to achieve success and that is the model we wish to emulate here”.
Llambias was referring to the examples set by Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson, but even Wenger’s career shows that even longevity does not guarantee a manager, or his team, perpetual success. And these are clubs with more star players and greater resources available to them than what Pardew has to work with, not to mention fewer genuine title opponents.
Newcastle’s probable ceiling is almost identical to Tottenham’s. Annual Europa League qualification with the ever-present outside chance of scraping into the Champions’ league, and strong runs in the domestic cups and the Europa League, although if they have any sense the Tyneside club will make a more genuine stab of winning it than Harry Redknapp did last season at White Hart Lane. Boil it down, and Pardew has just signed a contract which signals his intention to become a slightly more wealthily-backed David Moyes.
That is absolutely no knock on Moyes, who has worked wonders at Everton and is the third longest-tenured manager in the English football leagues. But what does he have to show for it? Yes, he’s won three LMA Manager of the Year awards (a joint record), but Everton haven’t won a single trophy since Moyes took charge. Their greatest achievement has been establishing themselves as an ever-present top half club, where they have finished in seven of the eight seasons since their 2004 relegation near-miss.
It seems highly unlikely that similar consistency will see Pardew survive that long at Newcastle. Either he will drive the club higher and get head-hunted, or he will establish a Spurs-esque trend of missing out on the Champions’ League and be replaced. Regardless of that, though, Pardew has secured some utterly deserved job security for the next three to four years – no way can Ashley afford to buy his contract out now…
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