Why does Alan Pardew bother to pretend anymore? Why does he bother to pretend he is really a person whose wants, needs or hopes, matter at at Newcastle United? I ask because last week when he made two claims about what happened last season and what was currently going on in preparation for next season, I found my previous sense that Pardew’s management of our club is merely futile start turn to contempt for the “manager” at Newcastle United.
According to Pardew an explanation for last season’s post-January collapse was caused by the prospect of the World Cup and the impact that had upon many of our players. What is Pardew suggesting here? Is he suggesting our players pulled out of games, pretended to be injured or failed to give100% in games because they wished to preserve themselves for the World Cup? He has already denied that was the case with Loic Remy despite our former on-loan striker claiming the manager connived with him to keep him out of the last fixture of the season to preserve him for French international duty.
Is Pardew claiming that Krul, Debuchy, Tiote, Sissoko, Ameobi and Remy for example deliberately did not commit to Newcastle United post-Christmas? How does he therefore explain the loss of form, and favour for Hatem Ben Arfa, Sylvain Marveaux, Yoan Gouffran, Steven Taylor, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and Davide Santon none of whom are anywhere near Brazil currently? How does he explain the poor contributions of Vurnon Anita and the lamentable performances of Luuk De Jong with reference to the World Cup?
Does this explain our inability to take a corner, free-kick, play without any width, creativity, score goals, ever come back from going a goal behind and did the impending World Cup persuade us that our best form of attack was to larrup the ball up the field without any sense of creativity at all?
The Premier League has become a polyglot of nationalities plying their trades at its clubs. Did the World Cup distract those I’ve seen in the colours of many international sides from Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, Everton, West Brom, Swansea, Sunderland, Fulham and probably every other club in the Premier League?
Or is this just the latest nonsense from a manager who looks ever more the charlatan by the day?
To be fair to Pardew, he did touch upon the failure of the club to replace Cabaye but where was the fuller explanation for the blunders, cramping lack of ambition, idiotic decision-making and woeful investment for two successive transfer windows? Joe Kinnear anyone?
Where is the reference to the collective failure of everyone at Newcastle United to bring through a single player from the Development Squad into the first team for the entire period of Ashley’s tenure at Newcastle United? Where is the reference to the club’s grotesque incompetence in failing to secure Cat.1 status for the Academy two years ago at the same time as most other clubs of similar and lesser stature?
Where is the reference to his own shortcomings? His inability to motivate, coach, prepare and improve players as individuals? Where is the reference to his own inability to develop an identifiable playing style amongst a collection of international footballers? Who can say what style an Alan Pardew plays in?
Blaming the World Cup in 2014 is an echo of the blame he lumped onto the Europa League in 2013.
In the words of the taunt we heard last season: “Alan Pardew, it’s never your fault”.
Not that it ended there.
Pardew gave us a real laugh out loud moment with the claim United and he was doing everything it could to strengthen the squad for next season. Jesus Christ, how dumb does this man take us for? Charnley is the latest hapless jerk sent by Ashley to a gun-fight with a pea-shooter and all of the indications are he is doing the football equivalent of transfer tyre-kicking with bids falling way short of value and wages wholly out of range of what players can get elsewhere. The press is reporting acid commentary of United’s transfer modus operandi from club presidents, agents, players et al.
Does anyone need any further evidence of the abysmal matter in which our club is being run by Mike Ashley?
Unless something radical changes and changes quickly, this next season is going to be a disaster.
I have to say last week, I had something of an epiphany. I’ve never been what you could describe as an England fan. I’m not hostile to the national team, more indifferent to the whole Flags of St George on foreign cars hullabaloo and alienated by the small town “No Surrender” dullards who have filled the stands at games down the years. Similarly, I’m not fond of its London-centred focus and I had started to take more interest when games came to our city and others across the North whilst that massive white elephant in the London Borough of Brent was being constructed as a vanity project for the FA.
No, last week, somewhat obviously I accept, I started to understand just how much the national team matters, its value and what it says about how our game in this country is run. And that includes Newcastle United. Now, don’t expect me to start turning out dressed in the height of summer in a Crusaders costume but the England team really does matter. There will be some of my acquaintance who will gasp at my having written that sentence whilst others will comment wryly, “he’s fucking quick isn’t he?”
It is a statement of the bleeding obvious that there aren’t enough English players for an England manager to choose from and there aren’t many English managers for the FA to select a successor to Hodgson from either. Pulis, Allardyce, Pardew (ha-ha), Bruce? I know, I know.
Let’s go back to the early 90s and the formation of the Premier League. One of the driving forces for the formation of the Premier League was that it would support the England team. Then, one of the primary explanations for the then failures of the national team was that we played too many games in England and that the top division should be reduced. That never happened and now the top players of every major league play more games than ever before due to the Champions League.
However, if anything explains the dearth of English talent emerging across the game it is the Premier League’s clubs and their obsession with money. Every club is after the quick fix, every club is looking in the short term.
That is why Newcastle United shops (when it shops at all) for cheaper foreign imports and provides more opportunities for young French players to develop in the Premier League than it does from its own door-step, the traditional hot-bed of football that is the North East of England.
I am not blaming England’s failures upon Mike Ashley’s running of Newcastle United but he and others are playing their role in the national team’s decline.
Something deeper than Ashley’s Frenchies at United is going on.
At Italia 90, Sacriston’s Bobby Robson took an England with Dunston’s Gascoigne, Pelaw’s Waddle, Longbenton’s Beardsley, Chester-le-Street’s Robson and Berwick’s Steven to the semi-final of the World Cup. Bobby’s team was a penalty shoot out from getting to the final. It is inconceivable the national team will get that far again.
At Brazil 2014, Jordan Henderson became the first ever born and bred Mackem ever to play at a World Cup. Fenham’s Shola Ameobi made a cameo appearance for Nigeria. Hexham’s Fraser Forster never got off the bench. That was the North East’s sole contribution to the World Cup. Hotbed? Hmm. Not any more.
Something is going badly wrong. Admittedly, Andy Carroll’s career seems to be going backwards after promising so much at United and when I see Ricki Lambert playing for England and the Teams’ finest posing with nubile young women on holiday in Vegas, you wonder if the player I still yearn to see in a B&W shirt will ever fulfil his potential. As if he’s bothered.
Even when United was by and large shit during the 70s and 80s, many of us took a vicarious pride in seeing lads from the North East at the top clubs and it convinced us of the latent potential of our club. Armstrong, Bell, Kennedy (R). Kennedy (A), Richardson, Bruce and many more showed the enthusiasm there was for the game – basically it was in the North East’s DNA.
I was an absolutely shit footballer but even somehow, miraculously on occasion found myself on the same pitch as David Hodgson (Boro, Liverpool, Sunderland, England), Chris Waddle (Newcastle United, Tottenham, Marseille, Sheff. Wed, England), Wes Saunders (Newcastle United) and Neil Aspin (Leeds United). I am sure others reading this of a similar vintage have similar stories to tell (my brother played against Paul Gascoigne several times and he was only marginally less shit than me). You will also hear the oft-repeated sentiment that those lads that went on to make it as professionals (and there were plenty more local lads who played throughout the Football League) they weren’t the best of what was available. Basically, there were plenty to choose from.
I am utterly convinced the explanation for the dearth in English talent can’t be summed up with a quick and easy sentence expressed by a fanzine knacker or anyone else. What I do believe however is that Michel Platini’s caustic riposte to the problems of developing English players: “too much money” gets to the hub of it.
If a club like United can go and get unremarkable players like Obertan, Gouffrann, Haidara and others rather than recruit from the Football League or the Development Squad because they represent better value or are of better quality then this means native-born players will not graduate to the next level. There is no escalator of success.
Then you have to ask why the native born players available in the lower divisions aren’t available in sufficient numbers to rise through the ranks. Why do so many players who leave the Academies of PL and Championship clubs simply disappear out of football? Wouldn’t it have been better for those players to have been playing proper football for a league club at whatever level and progressing rather than fannying on in the world of Development Squads around the country?
You also have to wonder about the standard of coaching available to young players. It is a well-known fact that there is a paucity of suitably qualified and licensed coaches in the UK when compared to Spain, Italy, France and Germany. How can France continually provide players for Newcastle United and the Premier League who are better than those from around the North East and available in the Football League? Many of those players come from under-privileged backgrounds but on the whole are more technically proficient than our own?
English football is awash with money but so little of it finds its way to the grassroots of the game but rather the pockets of mercenary players (from home and abroad), people like Ashley, charlatan managers like Pardew and of course the reviled agents.
Why can the UK compete so convincingly internationally with athletics, cricket, rugby but not football?
There may be something culturally going adrift with football but the sporting prowess of the country remains so obviously intact when you look at other areas.
One thing is certain and that is the likes of Mike Ashley and others at major PL clubs aren’t going to behave in ways that are supportive to the national team when alternative strategies might actually deprive them of money they and their clubs expect as their right.
Everyone at true faith wishes Bob Moncur all the very best as he faces treatment for Cancer. We may not think much of Bob’s defence of Mike Ashley but I’m sure all fans, like us send Bob Moncur, his friends and family all the very best wishes at this time.
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