Those of us who try to keep tabs on life at NUFC are always open to speculation. The national media have opened up a can of worms about what is happening with Alan Pardew, will he or won’t he go to Palace? As ever, we try to make sense of the evidence, putting 2 and 2 together. 

The first 2 comes from Pardew himself. Firstly speculation has come about because he did not carry out the customary post-match press conference after winning against Everton. It is not unusual for managers to have a grump after a defeat but after a victory? 

Secondly, Pardew himself has come out and said he needs a new striker in January. We speculated during the last international break (here) as to what the transfer window might hold in store. It seems that the board at Newcastle have come to the same conclusion, that there will not be any purchases that are not self-funded by sales, consistent with the “no capital outlay” message that came from Derek Llambias during his time in Newcastle. Was the statement about needing another striker an attempt to stir the hornets’ nest (not a Watford analogy)? 

The “plus” part of the equation is that Pardew still has a home in Surrey, close to the Palace training ground. When moving to Newcastle, Pardew admitted a reluctance to move his family to the North East, at the time on the grounds of continuity for his daughters’ education. The current regime have a habit of running things from London anyway. 

The next 2 comes from Palace. Firstly, the big news is that Neil Warnock was sacked and they have a vacancy, Secondly, Palace Co-Chairman and 25% shareholder is apparently known to Pardew socially and as a former player with experience of management in the Premier League, the attraction is obvious. 

The x, or the unknown, is Ashley’s response. The Kevin Keegan tribunal opened eyes as to Ashley’s attitudes to contracts. Pardew’s contract was famously extended by 8 years, no doubt with a series of clauses covering compensation. Undoubtedly, as with Demba Ba a fee payable in the event of an approach from another club would be there. Also included is likely to be a release clause, as Keegan had, were the manager to resign. 

Speculation has ranged from the release clause being from £3.5m to £5m in the event of an approach from another club. What if Pardew resigns? He does have form in this regard, leaving Reading to “apply for” the job at West Ham, ironically losing out on promotion in his first season there by losing to Palace in the play off final. 

Assuming the fee is as high as £5m, this should not present a problem to Palace, given the level of TV income. If Pardew is considered the right man, then preserving Premier League status gives a financial return to dwarf that figure. However, Parrish is known to have tendencies towards economy so may baulk at the price. 

Could Ashley be open to negotiation? The Keegan experience suggests that Ashley does like to bargain but on his terms. The experience with the likes of Carroll and Cabaye suggests that Ashley likes to extract top Dollar. Alternatively, we can see that unwanted players, such as Nolan and Barton were allowed to go at preferential rates. 

Any sort of fee might be a good one. Pardew was allegedly appointed to take Newcastle “to the next level”. Apart from one season, finishing in 5th, the next level up has not been achieved and a near miss to the next level down came in the next season. However, Pardew has not stood in the way of Ashley’s profit, seemingly complicit in player sales. 

There are other battles for Ashley, notably with Rangers and the SFA. Since the departure of Llambias, seemingly a close ally of Pardew, Ashley has made other appointments, being more hands on himself but with a new Managing Director, Lee Charnley. The latter is known to be a backroom dealer, and if he is worth his salt, he will already have explored the market following the famous head butting incident as well as a dire run of 5 wins in 25 games. 

There is a strong logic to suggest that Ashley’s grip, through Charnley might be strengthened by the appointment of his own manager, selected and negotiated by Charnley himself. 

If Parrish reads this, Pardew has strong self belief has a great cup record having taken a London club to the FA Cup final, has 2 promotions to his name and works well on a budget. If not, he has been a flash in the pan, making some initial impact and is a serial failure at Newcastle in the greatest of all cup competitions. 

What Ashley will have witnessed over the last year is a series of dire performances with unimaginative football and despite some high profile sales, a general lack of player development. Common sense says that there are other managers out there, who have taken clubs further than Pardew could, 3 of them progressing Southampton, Adkins, Pochettino and now Koemans. 

If Pardew stays, perhaps we can expect an unhappy manager, an unhappy crowd with a general lack of direction. At least Ashley will be happy that he has shown his power and possibly rub it in with a high profile sale. If Pardew goes, the supporters may look forward to a different brand of football with ambition but then again, perhaps not, after all, Keegan was replaced by Kinnear. In any event Ashley will be happy that he has his deal. 

This could be the opportunity to go for success, de Boer, Laudrup, Zola could provide us with entertainment, again de Boer, Simeone, Galtier have some success behind them, alternatively Adkins plays a decent brand of football and is cheap or even Carverm Coloccini or Beardsley could be promoted from within. Other former favourites such as Zola and di Matteo have already taken on new challenges. David O’Leary is still available! 

Time will tell but here is potentially a huge opportunity for Ashley to show some ambition. He certainly has the funding of unspent transfer profits and huge TV income to be able to back a new man. A lot of questions will finally be answered.

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