AMID all the chaos that has engulfed Newcastle United in the last four years, all the broken promises, dreadful decisions and embarrassing miscalculations, one man has been willing to defend what many regard as the indefensible.

Time and time again, while Mike Ashley and his cohorts refused to explain themselves publicly, Alan Pardew was paraded in front of the media to deliver the pre-agreed narrative from the regime.

When Andy Carroll was sold on transfer-deadline day, it was Pardew who found himself insisting the deal could not be turned down. When St James’ Park became the Sports Arena, it was Pardew who clumsily attempted to defend a club selling its soul. And when Wonga arrived as sponsors, it was Pardew who was desperately trying to legitimise a company many still regard as beyond the pale.

The 53-year-old didn’t just toe the party line, he stuck to it so rigidly that it was as if he had lost the capacity for independent thought. Dubbed a puppet by the supporters who came to detest him, his loyalty to Ashley was unwavering, and born of a combination of self-preservation and genuinely-held zeal.

So what does it say about the current state of Newcastle United that the one man willing to display such blind devotion has decided that enough is enough? And not only that, but he has decided that he would rather work at a club in the Premier League relegation zone, which has gone through six permanent managers in less than five years, than continue to tolerate the neutered existence that currently passes for managerial normality at St James’ Park.

It doesn’t say much for Ashley’s modus operandi, fiscal parsimony and barely-concealed contempt for the notion of managerial responsibility, and it hardly inspires confidence that Newcastle will be able to attract a proven, talented replacement. Assuming, of course, that Ashley would rather have that than some business associate he already has on speed dial.

There are, of course, other reasons for Pardew to abandon ship. His toxic relationship with the supporters who were chanting for his dismissal as recently as a couple of months ago would never have been truly repaired, and for all that he spoke bullishly of winning the fans around, he must privately have conceded that he would only ever be a couple of defeats away from another protest.

He boasts strong links with Crystal Palace having made more than 130 playing appearances for the club, and still boasts a family home in Surrey. It is not hard to see why a four-year deal at Selhurst Park, worth up to £2m-a-year, could appeal.

Yet for all that his job on Tyneside has become more difficult and poisonous than it might have been for the majority of his reign, the extent to which Pardew will have had to swallow his pride in order to join the 18th-placed club in the country should not be ignored.

A proud, self-confident figure, with an ego and sense of self-importance to match, Pardew has previously attempted to angle himself into position to be England manager during his time at St James’ Park. From there to Crystal Palace is quite some slide.

For all the politicking that the role of Newcastle boss required, Pardew relished the exposure and profile he was afforded. He revelled in the status that goes hand in hand with leading one of the most well-supported clubs in the country, and loved to cite his Manager of the Year award from three seasons ago as proof of both his worth and the quality of his work with the Magpies.

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To give all of that up must have been a massive wrench, and it is impossible to imagine him doing it had he not lost faith with the Ashley regime and grown tired of his inability to influence its decision making.

He had previously spoken of his intention to hold transfer discussions with Ashley and managing director, Lee Charnley, earlier this month, and given the events of the last couple of days, one assumes they did not go well. A warning that no striker would be arriving in January? An admission that Moussa Sissoko could be the next high-profile player through the door? Either way, would Pardew be joining Palace if two or three top-class players were going to be signed next month?

Similarly, it is hard to imagine Pardew bailing out as he has if he was confident of the long-term viability of Ashley’s Newcastle project. He is leaving a team in ninth position, and it is easy to see why he might conclude that is the limit of the owner’s ambition. Some will counter that by citing the Magpies’ fifth-place finish in 2012, but why would Ashley want a repeat of that when he views cup competitions, and the Europa League in particular, as an annoyance?

Perhaps whoever comes next will disprove such a gloomy prognosis. Pardew’s tactical limitations are undeniable, and his failure to get the best out of a number of the players at his disposal in the last four years is a major black mark against him.

But any supporter who regards the soon-to-be-former manager as the root of Newcastle’s problems is deluded. After alienating so many of those around him because of his previous devotion, even Pardew has eventually concluded that there are insurmountable issues elsewhere.