Cooney and Black

Villa fans are calling for the head of Lambert and some will be delighted if their demands are acted upon. But, remembering Pardew, they should be careful what they wish for.

Paul Lambert


A NUMBER of Newcastle fans made life a misery for Alan Pardew by mocking him endlessly.

In the end, their placards and pleas for him to walk out of the club were answered. Pardew chose to continue his managerial career at Crystal Palace, where he could once again enjoy a level of popularity.

It’s another case of be careful what you wish for. Since Pardew left Toon, the club have not won a match and could now be in freefall.

They have no manager and do not appear to have a game plan in position to find a suitable successor.

Some years ago, Charlton finished tenth in the Premiership. They punched far above their weight and were led by Alan Curbishley, who was twice interviewed for the England job.

That did not prevent Charlton from parting company with him, because they felt they had gone as far as they could under his leadership. Too long in sleepy hollow, they sneered.

The following season, under Ian Dowie, then Les Read, and Pardew himself, they were relegated, then dropped into Division One. Now they are at the wrong end of the Championship, and the Premier League seems a long time behind them.

There is little chance of them ever getting back there. Charlton thought they could do better, just as Newcastle feel they should be having more success.

One of the problems confronting Pardew was that he came from London. Fans referred to him, disparagingly, as the Cockney. They had done the same with Chris Hughton and, in some cases, Joe Kinnear before him.

Pardew, like Curbishley, had also been linked with England. But even that was not enough to placate the knuckle-dragging fans, who only understand immediate gratification which comes from achieving the right results.

Admittedly, the guy has always required high maintenance. When his headed goal for Crystal Palace put them into the FA Cup Final against Manchester United (they lost), he was the players’ social secretary and organised the nights out. He had blond streaks in his hair.

As a manager, he still has a swagger and a style about him; his idiosyncrasies allegedly included red seats belts on his club car and a personalised number plate that was always going to attract attention.

But he lived the job, loved it, knew it inside out and, despite awful provocation this season, ended Newcastle’s tailspin and halted their run of poor results.

Perhaps the fans should have appreciated what they had, and got behind him. Now he’s gone and Newcastle’s future is no more certain than that of Palace, where Pardew is attempting a similar rescue job.

If he keeps Palace up, it will be another major achievement, and the kind of success that would and already has, drawn attention from the Football Association. England are not exactly well off for emerging managers.

Pardew’s name is in there with other candidates such as Steve Bruce and Gareth Southgate. Two years down the line, when Roy Hodgson has had enough, his name will be in the frame.

Aston Villa, meanwhile, would do well to remember what happened at Charlton and what is happening at Newcastle. Good British managers are not thick on the ground.

Villa fans are calling for the head of Paul Lambert and some will be delighted if their demands are acted upon. Pardew was fortunate. He left a struggling club at the right time, Lambert may not be so lucky.

But sometimes, no matter how difficult it is, the right move is for a club to do nothing. This may inflame fans, the boo boys and those who only see the short-term solution.

Pardew has made the move and so far it has worked for him. Will Lambert be so lucky? As I said: remember what you wish for. It’s inscribed forever in Charlton’s history.


1 CommentLeave a comment

  • Nigel – I agree with your views on Pardew and Lambert. Pards was not one of Newcastle’s best ever managers but was emphatically not one of the worst. Ditto Lambert.
    But it’s being simplistic to cite an anti-Cockney feeling as the reason for fans harrassing him. They feel ‘sorry’ for anybody with the misfortune of having come from anywhere south of Darlington but they’re very happy if they’re successful. Scunthorpe’s Kevin Keegan was rather popular, I seem to recall.
    And Chris Hughton was not disliked by the fans at all. He did a terrific job getting Newcastle straight back up with minimum alarms and we were mid-table when Ashley sacked him for reasons that are still inexplicable.
    Tony Boullemier, Geordie exile, Northampton.

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