Football Expert & Columnist
Pardew to prosper
After signing a new deal, Alan Pardew can lead Newcastle to victory over Man Utd, says Jamie.
Last Updated: 05/10/12 12:04pm
Alan Pardew has been rewarded with an eight-year contract by Newcastle, but he'll be keen to show how far he's already taken the club when his side host Manchester United live on Sky on Sunday.
The Magpies have made big steps forward over the past couple of seasons under Pardew and I'd place them in the group of teams alongside Everton and Tottenham aspiring for a top four spot. But still, an eight year contract is a huge surprise in this day and age.
The guys at Opta tell me that since the start of the Premier League in 1992 the average tenure of a Premier League manager is 701 days. That amounts to just under two years - and if you took managers such as Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger out of the equation you can see how rare a long-term job in the Premier League is.
The deal shows Newcastle believe they've got someone special in charge, though, and I think Pardew has done incredibly well since replacing Chris Hughton there in December 2010.
Derek Llambias, the Managing Director at Newcastle, says they are trying to emulate the continuity Manchester United and Arsenal have had with Ferguson and Wenger and at the moment the contract seems to be a good, refreshing idea.
But results will determine what will happen to Alan Pardew. If they go on a run of 11 or 12 games without winning he'll come under intense pressure and the fans will call for a change of manager. And no matter how long his contract is, if he falls out with the players he can come under pressure too.
But if you're the manager, and you've got a contract like that, it shows they respect what you're doing and it's a great starting point for you to build from. Traditionally Newcastle have gone for managers with some sort of association with the area but he's gone there without that, impressed and he's won everyone over, so credit to him.
The scouting system they have in place there also deserves highlighting. Graham Carr - comedian Alan Carr's dad - has done a fantastic job of getting affordable but highly talented players into the club.
It's certainly a club that's going in the right direction - and the fans there deserve some success. I know people will say there are a lot of teams who deserve success but it doesn't make sense that such a big club hasn't won a big title in over 50 years.
Newcastle is a place I used to love playing football; there's something special about the atmosphere and the people there. When you go to a city where there's only one team everybody supports them, they all turn up in black and white and it's a brilliant place to play football.
This season they've done ok so far. They've had a few injuries to key players including Fabricio Coloccini and Cheick Tiote, which hasn't been easy for them, and they've not hit the heights of last year yet. I think a big reason for that is that Papiss Cisse hasn't been able to find his goal-scoring form. He's not scored in the league yet - although he did score against Manchester United in the Capital One Cup last week - and if they could get him firing at the same time as Demba Ba that would make a big difference to the team.
They're close to being a top four side - but they're not quite there yet. They've got some very good players there such as Tiote, Yohan Cabaye and Hatem Ben Arfa, who I really like; he goes past people like they aren't there, dribbles with pace and can beat two or three players. But whether they can produce their best football throughout the season and whether the squad has enough strength in depth only time will tell.
The full-back area seems to be a weakness - they were talking about buying France right back Mathieu Debuchy in the summer - and I feel they're a bit short of cover beyond Coloccini and Steven Taylor at centre back. But they're close and they'll get closer as long as they can hold onto their good players.
They'll certainly be confident going into Sunday's clash with United after beating them 3-0 at St James' Park last season. In that game they were extremely direct, hitting Ba and Shola Ameobi as much as possible. They played on second balls, missed out the midfield and pressed United high up the pitch. They didn't mess around and try to be clever but played percentage football - and I expect the same from them this weekend.
They'll also certainly be buoyed by Tottenham's result at Old Trafford last weekend. Years ago, when I played against United, their full-backs were defenders first and their attacking skills were secondary. Now they have Rafael and Patrice Evra in there and they seem to be more like wingers than defenders.
Every time the ball was turned over and Spurs counter-attacked last week Jonny Evans and Rio Ferdinand were exposed. People have been saying Ferdinand has lost his pace but if you look at Gareth Bale's goal on Sunday, he was running at Ferdinand and picking up speed and no matter who you are he was going past you.
Because of that people are realising if you keep it tight at the back you can get at United. That makes for some great games but I'm sure Ferguson is pulling his hair out thinking 'we're wide open'. In the second half they were brilliant against Tottenham but they gave themselves real problems going 2-0 down.
It doesn't matter how good Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney are - and they combined well last week and against CFR Cluj in midweek - you have to keep it tight because you can't put pressure on your forwards to win games for you all the time.
So United do have issues to address and Newcastle is a tough place to go. Three or four years ago you'd say quieten the crowd at St James' Park and you should be ok. But it's different now. You can quieten the crowd but then you've still got good players against you.
I think Newcastle could win this one 2-1. Manchester United have had to travel back from Cluj and it will be a tough game for them up there.
And what a statement of intent that would be from Alan Pardew after signing that long-term deal.