SECURITY lies in league wins, not in a lengthy contract. Alan Pardew answers criticism of his eight-year Newcastle deal in an interview with Neil Cameron.
FOOTBALL is filled with strange and unexplained quirks.
One example of these idiosyncrasies is that all too often whenever someone, be it a player or manager, signs a new contract then things immediately start to go really wrong for him.
The star striker is rewarded for his 40-goal season with a big pay rise, and all of a sudden he forgets where the net is.
A manager’s long-term future is secured, just before the team embark on a losing streak that would have many fearing for their job.
It doesn’t always happen this way, of course – it’s just that it’s more memorable when things do go pear-shaped while the ink on a contract has still to dry.
Alan Pardew has done little wrong during his two years as Newcastle United manager. Then he shakes hands on an unprecedented eight-year deal and the team begin losing games – five from the last six in the Premier League with Manchester City due at St James’ Park tomorrow.
So what’s the reason for this? That’s what supporters quite rightly want to know.
There are a number of factors. However, one thing that cannot and should not be levelled at Pardew and his backroom staff, is that they took their feet off the gas the moment Mike Ashley offered them new terms.
But the manager is canny enough to know that is what some people out there will be thinking, blogging and tweeting.
Pardew said: “This is an area fans are getting a bit of a misconception about us. Because of the length of our deals, there is a suggestion we’re not working as hard or something like that – it’s absolutely ridiculous. You actually work harder in these periods. It’s not a question of security or money; it’s about winning.
“We want to win. We are hurting, all of us. What you can’t do is overload the information. The preparation we did for games last year is no different. We’ve kept it very similar.
“Tactically, we’ve changed certain things about preparation, but the way we prepare for the opposition, what is said, and where our mindset is before we go into a game is very similar to last year, when we were winning five or six games on the trot.
“For me, I have to try and not be too over-analytical. I have to try and get the balance right. That’s what you have to do.
“It’s a difficult time. A lot of the players here have only experienced good times at this club.
“This is the first time since relegation that this club has faced a difficult period like this – one or two players are finding that difficult to deal with.”
So what has gone wrong?
Newcastle are 14th in the league, a place and a point ahead of Sunderland, whose manager Martin O’Neill has openly admitted that his team face a relegation fight.
Was it a case that Pardew’s men quite simply surprised everyone last season?
The manager said: “No, I think that’s a little bit unfair, because I think that if you’re a good side, you’re a good side and you find a way. But the injuries and the suspensions and the Europa League; you can’t say that hasn’t had an impact. Any logical football person, even our harshest critic as a fan, would say it’s had an impact.