Crash! Bang! Wallop! These last few days have certainly been bumpy on the banks of the Tyne as the storm created by Joey Barton, NUFC, the media and the fans continues to rumble on.
After my initial reaction of anger I think I can declare that I’ve calmed down quite considerably and now have my objective head on as opposed to the reactionary one I had one just a couple of days ago.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m still pretty pissed off that it’s come to this, but I also realise that it was perhaps inevitable given the frequency of outbursts from the Barton camp and the fractious nature of relations between the player and board. I also think it’s been inevitable since the sacking of Chris Hughton in fairness. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.
I think it’s safe to say that player power as we know it is dead at St James’ Park. Whether that is a good or bad thing of course remains to be seen, but I believe what we’ve witnessed is a concerted effort to end the clique that formed and served us so well under Chris Hughton.
Much was made of the clique of senior players that formed under Hughton. The supposed players committee was instrumental in our rise from the Championship and our decent start to life back in the Premier League but it did attract it’s fair share of criticism along with accusations that the players held too much power. Whatever, it worked, and it was great to see.
However it’s not how everyone works. Different people have different ways of working and it seems that in our new way of working there is no room for player power at the club.
Three of the most vocal voices in our changing room have now been shown where the exit door is and one of them has actually used it, that one being Kevin Nolan with Joey Barton looking to be close behind whilst Alan Smith is clinging on with a firm grasp. Incidentally I think all three players are replaceable in terms of ability, but it isn’t that I worry about.
My concern is that we are trying to change the dynamic of the team far too quickly. I worry that there could be too much of a shock in the dressing room and that it could be hard to recover from. Mind you, that could be concerns brought about by the not too distant memory of a toxic atmosphere in the not too distant past…
I guess only time will tell, but my concern is not replacing the playing ability of the likes of Nolan (yes I know, 12 goals, but hopefully they will be spread about the team a bit more. Hopefully) or Barton. my concern is replacing the togetherness of the squad. It can happen but it generally takes time and with Arsenal less than two weeks away time is something that we don’t have a lot of.
It’s a massive risk, a gamble if you like, but by changing the dynamic away from player power to manager power once again so soon we are treading a fine line between growth and failure with many believing we are closer to the latter of the two.
Ultimately it’s a test of Alan Pardew and his credentials. It’s he who is going to be tasked with shaping things although it must be helpful having the likes of Fabricio Coloccini, Steven Taylor, Steve Harper and even Alan Smith knocking about.
I was heartened earlier when I read comments from ex-Charlton player Matt Holland who had nothing but praise (which is interesting as a lot of Newcastle fans seem to use Charlton as a stick to beat Pardew with) for our current manager. It was ultimately a commendation of Pardew’s strength and character which ultimately means more when it’s coming from one of his former charges as opposed to from people on a ‘blog somewhere who realistically know very little about the situation they were in at the time.
Can Pardew rescue it though? I’d like to hope so although that may just be my blind optimism making an appearance again. It will be his biggest test in his tenure to date and whilst I think he did well bringing about a sense of continuity after the sacking of Hughton this will be a whole different kettle of fish.
He won’t have the players committee to lean on for a start….