The Premier League is up and running, and already we have our first controversial moment, courtesy of Newcastle boss Alan Pardew.
This summer’s sport has provided a genuine feel good-factor, and with the country still basking in Olympic glory the pressure was on the returning Premier League to continue in this vein of fair play and decency. But Pardew’s shove on assistant referee Stuart Burt seemed to bring everyone back down to earth with a bump.
The FA have charged the Newcastle boss with misconduct, and the press and several fans forums seem to have been deeply offended by the incident. Having watched it back several times, I can’t help but feel that is a bit over the top.
The 51-year-old described the incident as ‘comical’ in his groveling apology. I personally would have described it as hilarious. Not so much the incident itself, but the reaction that followed from Pardew was priceless.
He realised instantly what a cock-up he had made as soon as Stuart Burt turned to confront him. He turned away unable to look the linesman in the eye, and continued to shout his complaints at nobody in particular.
When approached by Martin Atkinson he just stood there like a schoolboy in his short sleeved white shirt and tie, looking sheepish as he received his telling off. He had no answers, no explanation. It was simply a moment of madness.
His attempts to get hold of a headset from his assistant John Carver under the nose of fourth official Lee Mason was also hilarious. As he tried to sneak back into the dugout to grab it and relay some last minute instructions, Mason turned and snapped at him to get up to the stands pronto. It was similar to the actions of somebody refused entry to a nightclub, but pleading with security to let them in quickly to ‘talk to their mates.’
The whole incident was simply ridiculous, and Pardew clearly spent his time in the directors box – otherwise known as ‘the naughty corner’ – coming up with a way to minimize the damage.
He settled for the ‘comical’ approach, play the incident down and just keep smiling. Nobody can stay angry somebody with a smile on their face surely?
“I was saying to the players about the great Olympics and to set an example. And they all did that … except for me.” he told his post match press conference, with comedic timing Jimmy Carr would have been proud of.
Well he won me over. I don’t think the push was overly aggressive, and you can tell by his reaction Pardew regretted it as soon as it happened. Like a child getting caught swearing, he knew what he had done but it was too late to change it.
It seemed like he had meticulously thought and rehearsed his post match interview with Match of the Day several times, and I think if your willing to go to that much effort to make light of a moment of madness, I’ve come around to the feeling we should give the guy a break.
I agree what he did was wrong and sets a poor example, but I personally am a big fan of the passion Pardew brings to the game. Incidents like this where he gets caught up in the moment have happened before, some have landed him in hot water and others haven’t.
His instinctive victory jig when West Ham scored a play-off semi final goal against Ipswich was an example of someone getting totally lost in the moment. His ill-fated appearance on Match of the Day was an example of his passion causing problems, as he ended up using the worst vocabulary possible to describe a brilliant tackle. Similarly to the shove, this was not out of nastiness or spite, just passion and fuzzy thinking.
He claimed he would have ‘kicked his granny’ to be in the position Newcastle found themselves in with two games remaining last season. Not a great term to use, but you can see where he’s coming from .. sort of.
And who could forget his famous touchline bust up with Arsene Wenger in 2006, when the Frenchman took exception to his over-the-top celebrations, Pardew responded by squaring up to the Arsenal boss and engaging in a shoving match. ‘Why shouldn’t I celebrate my team scoring?’ was his reasoning, and rightly so.
Pardew has come out and apologised and that should be the end of it. I hope the FA show some common sense and don’t go out to try and make an example of the Newcastle boss. We need Alan Pardew on the touchline to provide us with more comedy gold.