On Monday, I wrote a piece in support of the decision by Newcastle owner Mike Ashley to remove Chris Hughton. It proved unpopular, as I expected it would, but I stand by what I said.
It was written in the belief that Ashley would make an appointment that would take the club forward. Sadly, by moving for Alan Pardew I cannot see how this will happen. For the fans to stomach the departure of such a popular figure as Hughton, it had to be a name to set the pulse racing – someone who had the clout to lure high-calibre players to St James’ Park.
The potential options to do that were, if truth be told, thin on the ground. Possibly the two Martins – O’Neill and Jol – as there was never really a chance of Alan Shearer or Kevin Keegan going back. Instead, Newcastle have appointed a man who has had little success as a manager – his only silverware being the Football League Trophy with Southampton this year.
Pardew will stand or fall on the results Newcastle get. But it is likely to be a brief honeymoon period and the reception he receives when Liverpool arrive at St James’ on Saturday is sure to be mixed.
Newcastle fans will get behind the team, but there are sure to be open wounds about the departure of Hughton. If the team can take three points against Liverpool it will ease the transition period. But defeat could be the start of a sticky period. Following the visit of the Reds, Newcastle face a trip to a resilient Birmingham side, a home game with title-chasing Manchester City and a trip to a flying Tottenham.
Pardew has vowed to bring a blend of attacking football to the side and his first task will be to get senior players Kevin Nolan, Joey Barton, Steve Harper, Andy Carroll et al onside and in tune with how he wants to take the club forward.
Whether it is the right appointment, only time will tell, but it is not what was envisaged when the rug was pulled from under Hughton on Monday.
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|Alex Livie found his way to ESPN after learning his trade with Sky Sports, Setanta Sports and Eurosport. He is running out of companies with sport in their name so has made it his raison d'être to ensure ESPN.co.uk has the website it deserves.|
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