Mike Ashley may not be a football man, but he is a business man. If he felt Alan Pardew’s actions, even without the incident of the weekend, were damaging his brand, he would have dismissed him by now. Or at least we’d get a sense that things were heading in that direction.
What Newcastle have done, to no one’s surprise, is dish out a hefty fine for a manager with previous. The FA will no doubt continue in the same line of thinking with something that will more than likely see Pardew suspended from the dugout for a prolonged spell; a number coming close to the remaining 10 games of the league season wouldn’t be unthinkable or objectionable.
Pardew’s headbutt to David Meyler was a serious incident. Even more so, it was an embarrassing incident, one that probably tops all the controversial actions carried out by the Newcastle manager in his time as a Premier League coach. But it’s not a sackable offence.
There may be an argument to be had that doing what Pardew did in another work environment may lead to an immediate dismissal, whether it be towards a colleague or client. But we’ve sort of accepted that football works to its own rules, whether we’re happy with it or not.
Newcastle aren’t in a terrible shape in the league, in fact they’re only two points off Manchester United in seventh place. So you do have to wonder what prompted Pardew to retaliate in such a fiery manner. It’s the way he is. As mentioned he does have previous and is arguably the league’s most fiery or controversial manager. Adding that to the enormously disrespectful shove by Meyler – which seems to have been overlooked simply because it wasn’t as bad as what Pardew did – and it’s the making of another chapter in the Newcastle manager’s coloured history in English football.
Can we take a moment to look at the implications from a football standpoint? It’s not to take away from the severity of what Pardew did, but for those who are saying he should be sacked, is that based on any relevant evidence that his position has now become untenable? Can we say without hesitation that he is no longer fit to manage a group of players if he’s unable to control himself, or are we simply arriving at that point because of the shocking nature of the headbutt and that we’ve not really seen anything like it before?
Newcastle’s players may well go on to use this incident as something positive from now until the end of the season. Would it be wrong if they used it as motivation? What is interesting is that they went on to score a fourth goal against Hull after Pardew has been sent to the stands. It may seem insignificant but it really isn’t. It’s a factor that should be taken into account by the club if they’re being encouraged to seek a replacement for their manager.
And then we have to talk about it from an entertainment perspective. There was a cup final this weekend; a couple of phenomenal goals; the title picture altered slightly, perhaps setting itself up for an unimaginable finish. And yet Pardew’s action in a comparatively throwaway Premier League game is what’s stolen the headlines.
It’s entertaining, because that’s what football is now. It may not be entertainment in its purest form, but sometimes the best has to be controversial. If we’re going to accept that football lives within its own rules, then we also have to accept that it’s no longer confined to the borders of sports.
Pardew deserves to have the book thrown at him, but let’s not act like this is the worst thing we’ve seen in the Premier League.