Alan Pardew has lifted the lid on all things NUFC and has given us a bit of an insight into what exactly goes on behind closed doors at St James’ Park.
From fans to aspirations to transfer policy, name changes and ownership, Pardew has given a frank and honest assessment of what he thinks of life at Newcastle United currently.
Heading into his third Tyne-Wear derby, Pardew is coy and insists he knows what it means to the fans because he has Newcastle fans working with him behind the scenes in the form of John Carver and other backroom staff. That gives him the edge and helps him understand what is going on around Toon he says.
“There’s nothing I don’t know about what’s going on in the town – how they feel about us, how they feel about the club, how they feel about removing the sign at the ground, how they feel about the performance at Spurs and how they feel about this game.”
On John Carver he adds: “He gives me the psyche of the fan. He’s generally grumpy about something, he will always come in and have a gripe, in a nice way.”
Pardew then spoke of his credentials for the job and his aspirations for what Newcastle United should be achieving in the future plus what he essentially defines as failure.
“I had a good record, good experience, I worked well with young players – and I want to win something,” Pardew, now 50, explains.
“I don’t want to finish ninth in the Premier League. There will be a season, somewhere down the line, when ninth will be ‘thank god for that’. That season will come – a run of injuries, it’s not working, you get sucked into a war down the bottom and the middle of the table will seem like a haven.”
“But, for this football club, that shouldn’t be success. We should strive for better than that and we play in front of 52,000 fans, that will always attract players, we have to use that to our advantage. If I was a player, I’d like to play in our team. The most important thing is to have a team that looks like it’s going forward and we have that.”
He had this to say about Mike Ashley:
“Speaking to Mike he feels he will be the owner for a long time and that’s why I wanted a long contract,” Pardew says.
“This is his football club and he’s taking a longer-term view now. It’s hurt him, this club, he couldn’t understand how it works – the agents, the salaries, the industry. Compared to the industry he is in and is the main man and knows exactly how it works.”
“I know for a fact he can tell you the price of something on his shelves to the penny. That’s how thorough he is. But you can be thorough in this game and get it all wrong if you have bad selection, advice and that’s what he’s trying to cover.”
“He trusts managing director Derek Llambias to run the club, Graham Carr as chief scout, me as manager. Now he is feeling a lot better about the football club. He now understands the game. When we negotiate with clubs and players we are pretty tough and you need to be in this financial climate – as Rangers and Portsmouth have shown. The model we have got is a good model for these times.”
On the St James’ Park name change he added: “He does what he feels is right, it’s not a conscious decision to upset the fans,” Pardew argues. “He’s quite bullish, of course, and people don’t like change and changing the name of the stadium, it’s about raising revenue. It’s still St James’ Park to the fans and will stay that way.”
“There are sound economic reasons. We have to move with that otherwise we won’t be able to keep our players. For me, it’s difficult. I want to represent the fans, that’s what I do as manager, and I want to also say to the owner ‘I want the best possible team’ which is what he wants also.”
Will that model allow us to keep hold of some of our bigger players if the top clubs come calling in the summer? That is something Pardew is still cautious about predicting.
“If I can keep the same group of players I wouldn’t worry,” Pardew adds. “But will I be able to keep my best team? We are vulnerable to bigger clubs and you can’t get away from that with the salaries they offer.”
Now people will jump on that statement and view it as a bad thing, but is it really so outlandish? I mean all he is essentially saying is that bigger clubs pay bigger wages, which is fact is it not? I wrote an article recently, which you can view here incidentally, highlighting the gulf between our finances and those of the teams above us so when you look at it like that he is only stating fact.
Of course he could say that nobody is going anywhere, but he did that with Andy Carroll and look what happened…
Anyway, back to the article in question, and Alan Pardew insists that Newcastle aren’t focussed on Europe, at the moment anyway.
“We are not focused on that,” he said.
“We are focused on the next six games because if we are in the running for a top six place in six games times then we will really give it a go – whether that’s the Europa League or even the Champions League. But the next six games are key. Now is the time when the top teams get into gear, so are we going to get into gear?”
And finally, on the rather large game this weekend, Martin O’Neill and the strength of North-East football, Pardew had this to say:
“It’s good for the area,” he says of the resurgence of both clubs.
“They are probably looking at our results and we are looking at theirs but it’s not about Newcastle finishing above Sunderland. For me, it’s about finishing higher than we did last year, to progress and have a great season.”
“He’s done an unbelievable job,” Pardew says of Martin O’Neill. “I saw him a couple of times in a social environment before he went to Sunderland and I thought he looked ready to return. Taking the job has inspired him.”
Good words from Alan Pardew. No flannel, just how it is!