December 9th, 2010 – the day Alan Pardew was appointed as manager of Newcastle United Football Club. Mike Ashley’s (club owner) decision to sack Chris Hughton, didn’t go down well with fans or players especially after what he has done for the club – having promoted the Magpies to the Premier League in just a single season in the Championship.
However, fast forward 16 months and Pardew has remarkably guided Newcastle to fourth place, three points above Tottenham Hotspur with four games left for the season to end at the time of writing. It’s a brilliant achievement for a man who had many question marks over him upon his arrival and he didn’t exactly have an easy ride but has nonetheless, stuck to his words on taking Newcastle forward.
Newcastle finished the 2010/2011 season in 12th, four months after losing star striker, Andy Carroll to Liverpool for an inflated fee of £35 million on transfer deadline day. In the summer of 2011, Jose Enrique, Kevin Nolan, and Joey Barton all departed from Newcastle for a combined fee of £10 million. The three players were crucial in Newcastle’s rise to the Premier League and were also considered to be the ‘heart’ of the club. Many journalists and pundits alike thought, Newcastle was doomed and will be relegated in the following season.
However, Pardew knew what he was doing and with the funds at his disposal, he invested smartly in the market. Lille’s France international Yohan Cabaye, Man United’s Gabriel Obertan and Inter Milan‘s promising Davide Santon were all bought for an approximate total of £12.5 million while West Ham’s Demba Ba and Stade Rennais’ Sylvain Marveaux were signed on free transfers. Pardew also retained the services of key players like Cheick Tiote, Fabricio Coloccini, Tim Krul and Jonas Gutierrez.
Pardew changed the style of play as well (one which Andy Carroll used to thrived in) heading into the new season and the results were there for everyone to see. Newcastle had their best start to a season in 17 years, going 11 games unbeaten sitting in fourth place, accumulating 25 points out of a possible 33 in the process. Many people thought Newcastle were going through a purple patch and that they will soon start dropping points. They have lost eight games including the loss that ended their unbeaten run until now, they have since, climbed back to fourth today with 62 points from 34 games and are only three points behind third place, Arsenal with a game in hand. In a remarkable season which saw the Magpies convincingly beat Man United 3-0 and Liverpool 2-0. Funnily enough, former Newcastle player, Jose Enrique was quoted saying, “This club [Newcastle] will never again fight to be among the top six again,” after signing for Liverpool and as the current table stands, Newcastle are 16 points ahead of 8th place, Liverpool.
So lets look into Alan Pardew’s revolution and understand how he’s succeeded. Free signing Ba has been a transfer steal, having scored 16 league goals at the time of writing while Cabaye and Tiote have formed a key partnership in the center of the midfield adding stability to the side. Krul was made first choice keeper and has since excelled in his role, earning a call up to the Holland national team as a reward for his performances. Newcastle captain, Coloccini has been a defensive rock at the back with his performances earning him a place in the PFA team of the year for this season. The talented Ben Arfa had also returned from injury in mid-season and has shown glimpses of why he was so highly rated as a teenager. The January transfer window of 2012 marked the arrival of Newcastle’s new No 9, Papiss Demba Cisse from Freiburg who has been in stunning form having recently equalled Mick Quinn’s Premier League record by scoring 11 goals in his first 10 games for the club.
From taking over a club which has just been promoted, Pardew is now in control of a club with Champions League aspirations and if they were to qualify by achieving a top four finish, not only will Newcastle be able to retain their key players with the lure of European football and attract top stars, the high amounts of revenue they will earn from simply participating in the competition would immensely help the club financially.
This is all due to the fact that in a short space of time, Pardew has rebuilt Newcastle into a team of hard-working, talented individuals who are high on morale, displaying great team spirit in their performances. Having gotten rid of overpaid and inefficient players in Nolan and Barton while cashing in on Carroll, Pardew has used the transfer market extremely well, showing you can buy quality players at cheap prices and excel in the league. While many thought the departures would tear the team apart, Newcastle and it’s players have instead, gelled quite well with each other which is visible from their great team chemistry. A lot of credit is also due for Newcastle chief scout, Graham Carr who has been instrumental in the recruitment of key players in Tiote, Cabaye and Ben Arfa, using the atmosphere created by the Toon at St James Park (or the Sports Direct Arena as it’s called now) as a major selling point.
On March 25th, Alan Pardew told the media that Newcastle were unlikely to attain Champions League football status but today, it looks like he will have to eat his words, as a top four finish looks very likely.
However, Pardew now faces a tough task of holding onto to his players as they caught everyone’s attention with their performances. Many of them are now being coveted by Europe’s elite clubs and it is Pardew’s job to keep them at the club and with the lure of Champions League football, it shouldn’t be difficult.
But having said that, given the amazing work Pardew has done for the club in the space of 16 months, he has proven his worth as a manager and also has even been linked with the England job. It will be quite surprising if any key players were to leave the club (unless it’s for financial reasons) as Newcastle look to cement fourth place with four games left in the season. Pardew’s revolution has indeed been a successful one as he hopes to help Newcastle regain their once powerful reputation in England during the coming years.