Sporting Rock Stars: Alan Pardew

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Sporting Rock Stars are known for their exciting, entertaining and frequently erratic behaviour, either while playing sport or in the personal lives they lead – last week’s featured star Alex Higgins serves as an ideal example.

This week, the spotlight is on Newcastle boss Alan Pardew – both in terms of the focus of this article and with regard to his precarious managerial position. Having started the season strongly, Pardew only recently ended a six game los- ing run with victory over Cardiff at the weekend, and has been the subject of hostility from his own fans calling for his head. Pardew’s current situation is one that nearly every manager at any level finds themselves in at some point in their career. Yet Pardew’s volatile character, his frequent angry outbursts and, most recently, a headbutt on Hull’s David Meyler, all alter our opinions of the man.

Over the past few seasons, Pardew has been no stranger to controversy. In 2006 he heavily criticised Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger for failing to field an English player before his celebrations in front of the man nearly ended in the exchange of blows. In August 2012 Pardew, now Newcastle United boss, notoriously shoved linesman Peter Kirkup in the Magpies’ season opener against Tottenham. The reason? He disa- greed that Spurs should have been awarded a throw in. This January, cameras spotted Pardew calling Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini a “f***ing old c***!”, before his headbutt on Hull’s David Meyler during their 4-1 victory in March.

Pardew’s outspoken nature and mild arrogance, however, seemed to come hand-in-hand with his apparent brilliance when, during the 2011-12 season, he guided the Toon to a European place. Few fans could blame his smugness as his signings Ba and Cissé scored for fun – a wonder-goal by the latter at Stamford Bridge, in particular, springs to mind when one thinks of the skill, flair and sheer audacity that Newcastle exhibited that season. His confident fighting-talk backed up by results encouraged fans to forgive, even delight in, his involvement in previous controversies, seeing them as proof of his lively ‘character’, his ‘passion’ and a by-product of his enthusiastic management technique. But now, in particular, his seven-game ban and fine for his headbutt of Meyler has coincided with a particularly poor run of form.

Not having the manager on the touchline is understandably going to have a detrimental effect on the team’s performance, yet regardless of whether or not the two are connected, this latest headbutt has added fuel to the fire of Pardew’s critics. Fans love a ‘character’ when they are do- ing well, but when having a volatile personality coincides with, or in the case of Pardew, is partly responsible for a team’s decline, fans are less sympathetic. Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, a man known for his involvement in as much, if not more, controversy than Pardew, has been undeniably very successful as a manager at the highest level.

Pardew cannot, at the moment, confidently boast that record.

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