But the revitalization of the club isn’t just occurring on the playing side of the squad. In contrast Alan Pardew has seemingly convinced the powers that be that if we want to be a top club, then we have to start to look like a top club. Not only with the kind of talent on display, but also their surroundings.
Speaking on his vision for the club, Pardew claims “What we want is a gradual increasing of the bar at Newcastle United. If you don’t do that then you’ve got mediocrity, and in a lot of ways that is a problem – mediocrity is a problem.”
I don’t think anyone can disagree with that. Mediocrity is a word that most Newcastle fans run from like the plague. We are a passionate bunch and we like our club to reflect that and I don’t think that many fans would be happy with the club doing just enough to stick around in the top flight, which is a fate that many supporters believe we are stuck with whilst Mike Ashley is around.
Instead Pardew believes tha even the smallest of changes can make a big impact on the mental state of the club. He continued:
“What we’ve done is partly with the pitches – the grass is thicker. There is undersoil heating for the winter. We’ve boarded parts of it off so the balls aren’t running off the field and blowing across the pitches. All those kind of things are important – it’s important for me and my staff. It’s important that when we come back on July 4, changes have been made.”
When Pardew first came in he did well not to change too much and disrupt the squad. Slowly he is starting to put his stamp on the product on the field, but he seems to have no desire to be ‘King’ and instead wants to create a vision for the club rather than it being solely down to one man.
“I don’t want it to start feeling like ‘my’ club,” he said. “What I want to happen at this club is that it has a vision, it has a goal of where it is going. I want there to be a process for how we’re going to go forward.”
“I want the players to understand that as well. I want them to understand that the training ground will get better, but we won’t stop this year. Next year it will improve again, along with the quality of the playing staff. I want the players to feel that as a club we are improving all the time.”
It’s important for the supporters to feel that as well. When the Toon Army can get fully behind the club, St James’ Park truly becomes a frightening place for opposition players. It will take some time to make up for the chaos of last few years, but having the belief that the club is being properly run will help heal those wounds.
The facilities will not be the only change the players will be faced with this summer. With a fresh start ahead, Pardew plans to tighten up the ship and ask professional footballers to act professionally. I know, sounds absurd.
“I will definitely improve discipline in and around the building next year,” he said. “I think when we inherit a club half way through a season and you start laying down the law – and I think that has happened in the past here – and changing things and saying this isn’t acceptable, that isn’t acceptable . . . I’m not sure it works.”
“I’m not a disciplinarian by any means but I do value certain traits. Players need to be in at a certain time, food will stop at a certain time, let’s train on time. I think that is the minimum ask from a professional player. Besides, players love discipline. I don’t care who you are. You ask Eric Cantona, Roy Keane, Robbie Savage, Craig Bellamy. You ask any of those so-called problem players what they hate more than anything and it is indiscipline from other players and the fact they’re being sloppy or not on time.”
“Let’s put it this way, I’ve never had a problem with Joey Barton being on time or Kevin Nolan or Stevie Harper.”
I don’t think Pardew is asking for the world, and if the squad had a little more discipline we may have had more points to show for it last season by finishing off some games in which late goals cost us points. I think the changes will be welcomed by the players, and it will also be a good starting point for any new players coming in. There should be a professional feel good factor going into next season.
We haven’t seen the final product in regards to ‘Pardew’s Toon’, but we will certainly see it next season. It will no longer be Chris Hughton’s team. The players we’ll see that soon enough.
Pardew said: “The message with these changes is ‘That was last year, this is this year’.”
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