The perception of the Pardew/Ashley ‘axis of evil’ hurts Newcastle United’s transfer plans 1


The news that Alan Pardew is set to stay as Newcastle United manager was doubtless greeted with exasperated groans on Tyneside.  Pardew oversaw a listless end to 2013/14 and punctuated the protracted insipidness with various ridiculous demonstrations of his emotional immaturity.

If a manager was trying to lose his job, it’s difficult to know whether he could have done more than Pardew to force redundancy.

So, the limited football is here to stay, as is the peacock posturing on the touchline, and presumably the relationship with the local media will grow ever more antagonistic.  Fun times ahead.

But what of the club’s transfer plans?

Back in the 1990s, Newcastle must have been a big draw for players.  Kevin Keegan’s side played with a breathless, exhilarating style, and St James’ Park rocked with a palpable sense of optimism.  Fast forward to the present day, though, and what kind of player would actually want to join this club?

Since the season ended, various English players have been linked with a move to the North-East, most notably Mark Noble and Jack Rodwell, and that would seem to represent an attempt by the club to distance themselves from the Newchateaux moniker.  Good ol’ English players, the type who would never short-change the fans etc etc.

Fine, but if you were an English player now - and you were already playing in the Premier League - what is the incentive to play for Newcastle?  The club is run like a business, managed by one of the most disliked coaches in the country, and the sense of futility has sucked the life out of one of the most partisan crowds in the country.  If you look at the club’s existing squad, it comprises entirely of foreign players who had no prior reputation in England, academy products, and players who nobody else wants - when was the last time Newcastle made an inter-division signing?  Or, to put it more bluntly, when was the last time a Premier League player said: “Newcastle is a better option for me than Stoke, West Ham, Norwich etc”?

The only players who go to Newcastle now, are those who are looking to transition into English football but who lack options elsewhere.

Nobody can force Mike Ashley to do anything, but Pardew should have been removed and not just because of this season.  With him in-charge, the perception of Newcastle is as a front for something else - an organisational black hole where ambition goes to die.  Making a managerial change would have allowed the club to recruit in a different way and would have perhaps altered the way in which they are seen within the footballing community.  Installing a proper manager - i.e. someone employed on the basis of his CV rather than his willingness to be Ashley’s public shield - would have represented, initially at least, the start of a new beginning.

But with Pardew still there?  No new beginnings, no hint of future progress, and Summer transfer-activity inevitably consisting of low-cost foreign players who see Newcastle as their gateway into English football.  Newcastle are not really a football club, they are a regime: they’re an organisation who exist only to squeeze the money out of their fans’ pockets and harvest as much revenue as possible from the game.

Why would a player want to involve himself in any of that?

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