Saturday afternoon will see Alan Pardew return to St James’ Park for the first time since leaving Newcastle United for Crystal Palace at the start of 2015, provoking the local press on Tyneside into something of a frenzy.
With the Toon Army slap bang in the middle of a relegation scrap, Rafa Benitez is no doubt keen to focus entirely on the potential for a precious three points against us on Saturday, but for the journalists who work in the city, it appears as though Pardew’s pending return is the real story of the week.
The above article, which documents each and every quote Pardew has given about his stint at Newcastle since leaving for SE25, runs to an astonishing 2,133 words; breaking it all down into categories such as “Transfer Policy” and “The Local Media”. Far be it for me to question the wisdom of any local paper, but do the club’s fans really care that much about a manager who left the 16 months ago? Particularly when you consider the rather pressing need for victories in the battle to avoid the drop.
Whilst our own fortunes have stuttered dramatically of late, (papered over in wonderful style by a trip to May’s FA Cup Final) we still find ourselves well clear of the bottom three and hopeful of mathematically securing our place in the Premier League next season with a victory this weekend. Consequently, as an outsider looking in, I can’t help but feel that Newcastle’s supporters deserve more from their local newspaper than to see articles based solely around quotes given months ago about a now irrelevant subject.
The lack of affection between the Geordie faithful and Pardew is no secret, but in this instance, it’s difficult to escape the assumption that the local press are still baring a bitter personal grudge against the former Newcastle boss, which is unfairly colouring the perception of the club’s supporters in the process.