As we all know in football, there are occasions when the emotions of the game get too much for those involved in it. The game is – after all – a contact sport, and given the increased pressure in the game these days, it isn’t always surprising when the contact between two footballers becomes somewhat more forceful than the rules allow.
There have been numerous incidents over the past few years where players have struggled to contain their emotions and have ended up confronting other players and exacting some sort of physical revenge. However, what happened on Saturday at the KC Stadium was far beyond the rough and tumble of the events on the pitch. When Newcastle manager, Alan Pardew, pushed his head into the face of Hull City midfielder David Meyler he could not offer up the defence of getting worked up on the pitch, as, of course, Pardew doesn’t do his work on the pitch.
What is most perplexing about Pardew’s latest act is that the manager wasn’t even under a huge amount of pressure at the time. His side were 3-1 up and cruising, and when this is taken into consideration, the verdict on him must be even more damning.
There are now – as there should be – question marks over what should happen to Pardew. He has already been fined £100,000 by his employer, which cannot be described as inconsequential even in footballing terms. The chances are he will receive a lengthy stadium ban and a fine from the FA too. However, I would argue that this sort of behaviour is worthy of even more far-reaching implications.
If you walked into your office, got involved in a confrontation with an employee of an associate company and assaulted him or her by butting your head into their face, the chances are that you would be dismissed from your post. There are those who might suggest that the two situations aren’t comparable, but I think it’s crystal clear that they are.
When a player loses their head on the pitch – whilst it cannot and should not be excused – there is at least the excuse that football is a contact sport. As we noted at the beginning, it can often be all too easy for footballers to exacerbate that contact when they see red. A manager – who has no playing responsibilities – cannot hold this up as an excuse. Contact is not part of his job, and as such cannot be used as a mitigating circumstance in this sort of situation.
What makes this incident so much worse is the fact that it is not an isolated one. Pardew has frequently been involved in touchline controversy throughout his career and as this incident highlights with worrying clarity, he doesn’t seem to have learnt from his catalogue of previous mistakes. He has already shown two previous bouts of physical aggression in the past: one against Arsene Wenger and one against an assistant referee. Only a month and a half ago, Pardew was seen clearly submitting a barrage of swear words towards Man City boss Manuel Pellegrini, and one might think that all of this history would have taught Pardew a lesson. It clearly hasn’t.
I’ll be blunt: Newcastle United should terminate Pardew’s employment. They are a massive business, and the idea that they would allow one of their employees to behave like this without dismissing him from his post is very odd. However, Newcastle have already indicated that they will do no such thing. What is saddest about this is the fact that it makes football look bad, like it is an industry that does not need to conform to the same levels of human decency and behaviour as any other industry.