Pardew, Ashley, Kinnear and the political minefield that is the reality of life at St James' Park

The Northern Echo: LONELY PLACE: Newcastle manager Alan Pardew watches amid a half full St James’ Park after watching his side concede a third goal against Sunderland on Saturday LONELY PLACE: Newcastle manager Alan Pardew watches amid a half full St James’ Park after watching his side concede a third goal against Sunderland on Saturday

Full-time: Newcastle United 0 Sunderland 3

ANOTHER harrowing derby; another day from a black-and-white perspective where the absentees at St James' Park were more relevant than those attending.

No Yohan Cabaye, sold to the highest bidder despite still having more than two years of his contract to run. No replacement for the Frenchman either, with piecemeal attempts to sign Lyon's Clement Grenier having been aborted long before the transfer window closed on Friday.

And most significantly of all, no Mike Ashley or Joe Kinnear to witness the latest shaming of a club that once again finds itself riven with recrimination and strife.

Like an absentee landlord unconcerned at his property going to wrack and ruin, Ashley was nowhere to be seen as Newcastle suffered a third successive derby defeat for the first time since the 1920s. Kinnear, his right-hand man, was not at St James' either, but then it's impossible to know where he has been or what he has been doing in the eight months since he was appointed as the world's only transfer supremo who doesn't complete transfers.

Disinterested, disengaged or dissuaded from attending because their presence might have proved disruptive? Either way, their absence meant the focus once again fell on Alan Pardew as Newcastle crashed to a thoroughly deserved defeat that renders their eighth-placed position irrelevant when it comes to assessing the state of things on Tyneside.

It was Pardew who had to watch his players collapse in the most heartless of fashions, Pardew who had to witness supporters running on to the field in an attempt to fling their season tickets in his face and Pardew who had to confront the media after the game in order to account for the events of the last seven days.

There are two interpretations of Pardew's role at Newcastle. The first is that he is a decent bloke doing his best in exceptionally difficult circumstances, effectively managing with one hand tied behind his back. He has to make the most of the cards he is dealt by those above him, and they generally amount to a pretty bad hand.

The second is that he knew what he was getting into when he took on the job and is therefore complicit in everything that Ashley, Kinnear and the rest of the so-called 'Cockney Mafia' are doing to damage the club. His powerlessness is therefore part of the problem rather than a symptom of failures that are outside his remit.

On which side of the coin do you fall? Well here's a transcript of Saturday's post-match briefing with the daily press in which an attempt was made to address the issue head on:

Q: It’s a tough question to ask you but is the club, as it stands, capable of making permanent signings?

Pardew: “Well …”

Press officer: “I think that’s an unfair one to ask the manager.”

Q: But it’s two transfer windows without one now and Alan said …

Pardew: “I’ve got no comment to make on that one.”

Q: You said at the start of last week that the club can’t not replace Yohan, but that’s exactly what happened.

Pardew: “I didn’t particularly say in this window though. I said, you know, we’ve got to get players of that class, there’s no doubt about that. So don’t try and angle that for this window because I think that’s unfair on me.”

Q: You said ‘We need to bring someone in, for sure. We can’t lose someone of his quality and not replace him. That would leave us vulnerable’. Do you stand by that?

Pardew: “Well, I’ve said it, ain’t I? But I’m meaning in the long-term as well as the short-term, that it’s the quality we need. And, you know, today has been a tough day for us and I don’t really want to add any more to it, to be honest.

Q: Part of the problem you’ve got is that if you don’t speak out against not getting a replacement it makes it look as though you’re going along with the decisions the board is making and therefore you get criticism heaped on your shoulders and take the blame for that.

Pardew: “Yeah, I’m a professional manager. You know, if I was in charge, solely, of transfers, the answer might be different, but I’m not.”

Q: It does feel sometimes that you’re being asked to manage with your hands tied behind your back.

Press officer: “These are all quite unfair questions.”

Q: Unfortunately the manager is the only person who will speak for the club.

Silence.

Q: Alan, is there a collective blame for today, from the top of the club, right down to on the pitch.

Pardew: “The only way I can answer what has happened today is that it’s a disappointing day for the club.”

Q: What do you say to Mike Ashley and Joe Kinnear when you’re having those discussions on Friday and it’s clear you’re not going to get a replacement (for Cabaye)? Do you make your opinions clear on that?

Pardew: “I think I’ve made my opinion very clear this week and all the rest of it is confidentiality.”

Any clearer? Possibly not, although Pardew's acceptance that 'if he was solely in charge of transfers the answer might be different, but he's not' is the closest he has come to an admission that his ability to influence Ashley and Kinnear over issues of recruitment is practically non existent.

One thing the exchange displays is the extent of the political minefield that Pardew has to negotiate, and whatever you think of the rights or wrongs of the 52-year-old's conduct, it cannot be healthy to have an environment where the manager of a football club holds such little power when those above him are either incapable or unwilling to adequately execute their roles.

If Newcastle had a functioning director of football model, Pardew could get on with being a head coach safe in the knowledge that others were working diligently to ensure the recruitment process was operating smoothly.

They don't though, so you're left with an autocracy where Ashley's power is absolute and his refusal to adequately invest is damaging the club and bringing about days such as Saturday.

In the last five years, a comparison of Newcastle's transfer fees paid against the sums they have received for selling players reveals a surplus of £25m. Only two other clubs (Arsenal and Everton) also have surpluses, while the figure for Sunderland reveals a net spend of £46.9m.

If Pardew was replaced by another manager, that would not change, because if an alternative boss attempted to stand up to Ashley or confront him publicly via an exchange with the press, they would be out on their ear. From personal experience, Kevin Keegan can explain how that works.

Everything comes back to Ashley, and his primary concern is cash in the bank. So with that as your modus operandi, should a third successive derby defeat really be so much of a surprise?

Comments (5)

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11:26am Mon 3 Feb 14

killyted says...

Careful Scott you will get yourself banned from St ja. they don't like the truth.
I personally think MA is quite happy with the club as it is.
1 LOOKS IF we will stay in the league
2 will get Sky money
3 shirt sponsorship money
4 free font to advertise his company
5 not to bothered with fan base,35000 will do// should get that
6 keep selling players at a profit,
all in all just what he wants
and in JFK he has the original village idiot
as for pardew I would not like him next to me in the trenches what a wimp
Careful Scott you will get yourself banned from St ja. they don't like the truth. I personally think MA is quite happy with the club as it is. 1 LOOKS IF we will stay in the league 2 will get Sky money 3 shirt sponsorship money 4 free font to advertise his company 5 not to bothered with fan base,35000 will do// should get that 6 keep selling players at a profit, all in all just what he wants and in JFK he has the original village idiot as for pardew I would not like him next to me in the trenches what a wimp killyted
  • Score: 7

12:08pm Mon 3 Feb 14

Dukes says...

Cockney Mafia OUT

POOR CLUB WITH **** OWNERS
Cockney Mafia OUT POOR CLUB WITH **** OWNERS Dukes
  • Score: 0

12:09pm Mon 3 Feb 14

behonest says...

"Everything comes back to Ashley". And, in a nutshell, that's it.

Personally, I like Joe Kinnear and I don't think NUFC would have been relegated had he stayed as manager.

I like Pardew and I think he's a great manager. Of course he has to be careful what he says; he's doing a good job in the circumstances but, like any manager, start publicly criticising the chairman and you're out.

There's little point in Pardew mentioning quality players he'd like to sign and Kinnear then going off to try and do a deal to sign them, if Ashley is not prepared to make the funds available to seal the deal!

Newcastle will survive this season but if they don't do good business in the summer then I can see them struggling next season. And I don't want to see them relegated, there's nothing quite like the North East derbies.

Anyway, that's my perspective - a Mackem looking in from outside!
"Everything comes back to Ashley". And, in a nutshell, that's it. Personally, I like Joe Kinnear and I don't think NUFC would have been relegated had he stayed as manager. I like Pardew and I think he's a great manager. Of course he has to be careful what he says; he's doing a good job in the circumstances but, like any manager, start publicly criticising the chairman and you're out. There's little point in Pardew mentioning quality players he'd like to sign and Kinnear then going off to try and do a deal to sign them, if Ashley is not prepared to make the funds available to seal the deal! Newcastle will survive this season but if they don't do good business in the summer then I can see them struggling next season. And I don't want to see them relegated, there's nothing quite like the North East derbies. Anyway, that's my perspective - a Mackem looking in from outside! behonest
  • Score: 3

12:45pm Tue 4 Feb 14

cholmes005 says...

A FEW FOLK HAD THE KNIFE IN KINNEAR AND I KNOW THAT INTERVIEW WAS A JOKE BUT THE REAL VILLAN IS ASHLEY IF HE AINT DSHING MONEY OUT NO WONDER KINNEAR NEVER SIGNED ANYONE. ASHLEY WILL NEVER GET TAUGHT A LESSON F THE FANS KEEP ON GOING TO GAME AFTER GAME AS THE DO. WHY DON THEY BOYCOTT GAMES IN THE MASSES AND GO AND WATCH GATESHEAD BACKED BY A LOCAL BLOKE WITH ALOT OF LOCAL PLAYERS IN TEAM THEY ARE A PRO TEAM IN A ALL SEATER STADIUM
A FEW FOLK HAD THE KNIFE IN KINNEAR AND I KNOW THAT INTERVIEW WAS A JOKE BUT THE REAL VILLAN IS ASHLEY IF HE AINT DSHING MONEY OUT NO WONDER KINNEAR NEVER SIGNED ANYONE. ASHLEY WILL NEVER GET TAUGHT A LESSON F THE FANS KEEP ON GOING TO GAME AFTER GAME AS THE DO. WHY DON THEY BOYCOTT GAMES IN THE MASSES AND GO AND WATCH GATESHEAD BACKED BY A LOCAL BLOKE WITH ALOT OF LOCAL PLAYERS IN TEAM THEY ARE A PRO TEAM IN A ALL SEATER STADIUM cholmes005
  • Score: 4

5:46pm Tue 4 Feb 14

cushybutterfield says...

Boring however the reality is nowadays it is a misnomer calling it Newcastle United, it should be renamed 'France United'.
Boring however the reality is nowadays it is a misnomer calling it Newcastle United, it should be renamed 'France United'. cushybutterfield
  • Score: 0

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