Alan Pardew must be punished in the most severe of manners
Not shy of a touchline altercation, the Newcastle United manager’s latest unsavoury exchange involved him aiming a head-butt at Hull City’s David Meyler after the Irish midfielder pushed past him to retrieve the ball for a throw-in. A fracas ensued, with both sides piling in, leading referee Kevin Friend to book Meyler, and send Pardew to the stands for the remainder of the match.
After the game, Pardew cut a remorseful figure. In his post-match press conference, he lamented his role in the incident, claiming that from now on he would have to ‘sit down and keep out of the way’ – he might well be onto something.
However this is far from the manager’s first run in with controversy. Earlier in the season, Pardew was pulled up on his crude outbursts at Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini and in 2012 he faced a two-match touchline ban after pushing assistant referee Peter Kirkup. Finally, West Ham fined Pardew, their then manager, £10,000 in 2006 after a heated exchange with Arsene Wenger.
But perhaps what is most striking about this incident is its overwhelmingly unnecessary nature.
It is commonly accepted that the world of football is a world of pressure. Emotions are high, tempers rife and the smallest of mistakes can often prove monumentally costly. But Newcastle were cruising. At 3-1, Hull were very much playing like a beaten side, and with less than 20 minutes remaining the game was all but won. The unpleasant interchange that then took place was therefore completely unnecessary and out of the blue. Although Pardew’s actions would have been inexcusable regardless of his side’s fortunes, he should have known better than to get involved in such a needless altercation, especially in the manner he did.
As the FA yesterday issued their charge of ‘improper conduct’, it is of paramount importance that they ensure their punishment reinforces the message to the Newcastle boss. His tendency for match-day’s explosive behaviour must be controlled, and violence of any description within the game is completely unacceptable. They must build on the actions of Newcastle United, who immediately condemned Pardew’s behaviour, issuing with him a formal warning and a £100,000 fine – although there will be many who feel that he is lucky to still have a job. In another line of work, an employee ‘aiming a butt’ at a fellow professional would result in the severest of disciplinary action, and, in the majority of cases, a swift dismissal.
Passion provides the foundations for football; it’s an emotion that the game has built itself around, and there will, of course, be those who sympathise with the actions of the Newcastle manager. Even his staunchest of critics concede that he has done a good job at the club, in extremely difficult circumstances.
Pardew’s side currently sit eighth in the league, two points behind Manchester United and all this despite a host of internal problems and an extremely strained relationship with the club’s owner Mike Ashley. There is no denying that Pardew’s unparalleled desire to win is a good thing. However, his absence of self-control is not, and must be addressed – by both himself and his club.
As a Premier League manager, he has a duty. He is a public figure, of whom many respect and look up to, and although followers of the game accept that in the heat of the moment errors of judgement are plentiful, Pardew has devastatingly overstepped the line he so often narrowly treads. It’s that ‘heat of the moment’ that he needs to learn to ignore, and perhaps the staunchest of punishments from the Football Association is the only way to emphasise this.