Fours years ago to the day this coming Tuesday, Alan Pardew was named Chris Houghton’s successor as Newcastle United manager. In a Sky Sports poll involving no less than 40,000 Newcastle faithful, the Wimbledon born ex-midfielder received just 5.5% of the vote of who the Toon army preferred to take over the reigns for their first season back in the top flight of English football. Since then it’s been one hell of a ride…
Pardew soon started to win over the magpie’s crowd with a 3-1 win over Liverpool on home soil in his first game in charge, whilst in the first game of the 2010/2011 season Pardew recorded a notable 5-0 victory over former club West Ham. In the same season Newcastle drew a famous game 4-4 with Arsenal after being 4-0 down at half time, leading the black and white stripes to mid table security. It was in the following 2011/2012 season success really started to hit Tyneside as former Palace and Charlton man Pardew guided United to their best start to a premier league campaign in 17 years, going 11 games unbeaten in all competitions. This was no mere coincidence as Pardew had raided the French leagues in order to bring in relatively unknown talent such as Yohan Cabaye, Demba Ba, and in the January transfer window Papis Cisse, who hit the ground running with 13 goals in 12 games. Pardew had seemingly tapped into an affordable abundance of French talent bulking out the Newcastle squad to it’s healthiest state in years, and bagging European football in the way of the Europa League for the forthcoming season.
These achievements didn’t go unnoticed as Pardew scooped the Premier League Manager of the Season award becoming the first Newcastle United gaffer to do so, whilst also winning the League Managers Association Manager of the Year award, again breaking another record as the first manager to receive both awards together. From that point on Pardew dipped his hands once again into the French League 1 securing the services of French Internationals such as Mathieu Debuchy and Moussa Sissoko. These signings helped United reach their first European quarter final in 8 years. Pardew was rewarded with a lucrative 8 year contract extension by owner Mike Ashley. This was swiftly accompanied by Newcastle’s first victory at Old Trafford in 41 years, coming out with a 1-0 victory helping himself along the way to 4 wins out of 4 in November 2013, picking up the Manager of the Month award. With frequent managerial casualties part and parcel of the modern game along with Sir Alex Ferguson’s managerial retirement, Alan Pardew soon became the league’s 2nd longest serving manager behind Arsene Wenger.
Things quickly started to fall apart from Pardew as Newcastle’s form in the turn of the year 2013/2014 registered 15 defeats in 21 competitive games. Unrest in the stands at St James’ soon become apparent through banners and vocals aimed at both Pardew and owner Ashley, but it wasn’t just Pardew’s side’s form that had fans calling for his head. The 53 year old has been involved in more than his fair share of controversial moments during his career and specifically during his time at Newcastle boss. On the opening day of the 2012/2013 season Pardew pushed a premier league official during an incident where the ball appeared to go over the touchline although the referee deemed the ball to still be in play. In a game against Manchester City in January 2014 Pardew had a bust up with City boss Pellegrini and was clearly verbally abusive towards the Chilean. Most notably, in a game against Hull City in March 2014, Pardew physically head-butted City player David Meyler as was fined 100k, given a 3 game stadium ban and a further 4 game touchline ban but incredibly wasn’t sacked. Many believed it was only a matter of time before Pardew was given the boot and many Newcastle fans were just counting down the days, but miraculously Pardew has turned things around once again.
United currently sit in 7th spot in the premier league table with just 2 defeats in their last 10 games, but even in recent times the dismay of recent negative times up north have lingered, until on Saturday 6th December 2014, Newcastle beat top of the league Chelsea 2-1 at St James’, who many fancied to go a do the infamous full season unbeaten. Papis Cisse sparked memories of 2 previous world class goals against the blues in recent years bagging a second half brace, enflicted defeat on the league leaders for the first time this season. Surprisingly, the victory maintained a record that Jose Mourinho has still yet to win at St James Park. Cisse netted in the 57th and 78th minutes of the game finishing emphatically both times, with the first goal coming from a Newcastle counter-attack after Eden Hazard had struck the post for Chelsea. It wasn’t plain sailing for Pardew’s men though as the londoners dominated possession holding 67.5% of the ball. The pressure really grew late on as Steven Taylor was shown a second yellow card for an ill times tackle. Drogba latched on the resultant free-kick to net with 7 minutes remaining and Chelsea threw everything at young Jak Alnwick in the magpies’ net, who had come on as a substitute to make his début. Alnwick produced 2 smart saves and Newcastle held on meaning Mourinho’s men didn’t manage to set a record of going 24 games unbeaten which the blues had never done before. Mourinho was clearly rattled come full time blaming the Geordie ball boys and such for his teams loss.
For the first time since the upturn in Newcastle United’s results and performances this victory really feels as if the faith from the Geordie faithful has well and truly been restored, for now at least.