Alan Pardew’s confrontation with Hull’s David Meyler represents many things. Unfortunately for the Newcastle manager, the most striking thing about what many are calling a headbutt is that for those who’ve watched him this year, it isn’t all that surprising.
Here’s the video. It doesn’t fit your standard definition of a headbutt, but in no way does that condone Pardew’s actions in going headfirst toward the Hull player. No place for it in life, let alone a Premier League pitch.
The problem here is that it isn’t an isolated incident, even if the only matches considered are during his time at Newcastle. In fact, he seems to be escalating. The manager pushed a referee during a match against Tottenham last year and now he’s one-upped that ridiculous moment by going after a player.
And there was his calling of Manchester City manager by a profane label earlier this season that caused him to seek penance from his daughters. Problem is, he didn’t need to return home to know his error this time. Pardew was out for his post game interview earlier than anyone expected and couldn’t get his sorries out fast enough.
Some saw his staying out of the fray versus Southampton as a growth moment, but clearly what lies in Pardew was lying in wait.
Pardew is the second longest-tenured club manager in the Premier League and the sixth-longest in the Football League. Perhaps his longevity is earning him more time from the Newcastle United higher-ups, who opted to impose a strong fine and said no more discipline is coming.
But what should the FA do? Frankly, they need to mandate disciplinary classes and evaluations while also suspending him for the duration of the season. That’s a 10-match ban, which would be harsher than Nicolas Anelka’s deemed anti-Semitic gesture (five matches) but not quite nine months a la Eric Cantona’s kung-fu kick of a supporter.
So how many matches feels right to you? Newcastle’s Joey Barton got 12 for an elbow, kick and headbutt-attempt in one swoop against Man City (taking place under Pardew, for those who want to draw a connection, and it’s no surprise that Barton has weighed in on the matter). Paolo Di Canio got 11 for pushing over a referee. Luis Suarez received a 10-match ban for a bite and another eight after the Patrice Evra racial abuse incident.
Given all those things, should Pardew’s actions be considered worse? Does the fact that his actions involve a player make it extraordinarily poor, relative to the aforementioned bans?
In any event, a strong stance is needed. I don’t think you can fire or expel him, but whenever there’s a unique act of poor form on the pitch, there has to be a message that punishment will be severe. The rest of the season seems about right to me.