“It's about love, it's about love and putting cover on each other, and they did that. Fantastic.”
Alan Pardew spoke passionately about his players love for one another after one of the best Newcastle United performances in his four year stay on Tyneside - that 2-1 victory over a rumoured unbeatable Chelsea.
Yet love was something Alan Pardew had not received since he stunningly became Newcastle United Manager in 2010. A dislike verging on pure hatred in recent times, a lack of love from supporters that seemingly has led to his equally stunning departure.
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I have been disappointed for Pardew at times, been equally disappointed by him at others. But what disappoints me most is that a Premier League Manager would leave Newcastle United for a relegation scrap with Crystal Palace. This is a really hard pill to swallow and you would hope would be a real eye-opener for Mike Ashley.
As for Pardew, can you really blame him as a human being for walking away? I've always openly described the abuse he has received as over the top; over-spilled passion getting far too personal. He goes to somewhere where he has respect, he has backing. He goes home to his family.
He was never going to win at Newcastle. A brief fling aside as he marvellously led the club to 5th in 2012, Pardew was much maligned from the word go. Not surprising at all, given that he never crossed supporters minds as a replacement for Chris Hughton. Of course it became very clear why he was appointed. Perhaps "Yes-Man" isn't the fairest way to describe it, but certainly Pardew was more than happy to work under the Ashley regime.
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Pardew has had to be the face of his owners actions, the man in the firing line time after time as Ashley frustrated fans. He lost Andy Carroll, had his desire for building on 5th ignored, was embarrassed by Joe Kinnear, and lost Yohan Cabaye with no replacement given to him.
Time after time it was he that took the flak, he that faced the questions that he must have wanted to ask himself. Suggestions that he wouldn't be backed once again in the market after he had publicly expressed the need for two new recruits may also have added to the misery. Perhaps he just didn't want to have to be the face of more January despair.
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It's been good, bad, and ugly under Pardew. 2014 has been utterly dreadful and after a second successive 4-0 defeat at Southampton it was almost evident that nothing had changed between the two drubbings, despite change in personnel. Recent impressive victorious have probably papered over the cracks that suggest Pardew has taken Newcastle United as far as he could.
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His departure is largely celebrated on Tyneside, but will it be something that supporters live to regret? Newcastle fans don't expect year on year trophies, just a football club and a team that mirrors the 52,000 seater cathedral that has housed legends of the game. We can dream of De Boer and Klopp, we should really have such links, but in reality would they ever cross Mike Ashley's mind?
Remember "Open Your Eyes, the Problem is Wise"? A Manager with polar opposite popularity to Alan Pardew, an institution of Newcastle United driven out by the Sports Direct mogul. Kevin Keegan couldn't do it, Alan Shearer wasn't allowed to do it - if Alan Pardew has given up on it, who do we really expect to walk through the door?
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The answer, sadly, is that we don't have a clue. Newcastle United is a business to Mike Ashley and it would be a major surprise if he didn't plump for somebody who will pick up the mantle from the beleaguered Pardew and continue operating the Ashley way. It almost makes me laugh that even the Manager has been sold on for profit.
The club needs to show ambition; not to settle for 10th, not to play down the cups, not to always sell the best players and frustrate in the transfer market. They need to galvanise supporters, get the best out of talented players, and head into 2015 with far greater fire than 2014. A positive appointment would get the ball rolling, but does anyone really expect one? There is almost nothing that surprises supporters now.
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Statistics say otherwise but Pardew has done a good job in part given all too prevalent circumstances. Of course he has caused his own unacceptable problems at times that have only fuelled the fire of unrest. There have been some unforgettable results, for good and bad, and games and goals that will live long in the memory. But it is time to move on, to move forward. Few will be sad to see him go but what I will say though, is be careful what you wish for. Because as we know all too well at Newcastle United, it just might not be a happy ending.