Pardew right to leave Newcastle, says Neil Humphreys
Roy Keane couldn't stand St James' Park.
Newcastle's arrogance drove the former Manchester United skipper to distraction.
In his autobiography, Keane dismissed the Toon Army as a joke, a ragtag bunch of underachievers who had won nothing since 1969.
Keane was right, obviously, but the Magpies still can't see their own shortcomings.
But Alan Pardew can. He's had enough of the delusional club. He's set to swop Newcastle for a club with half the support, half the stadium capacity and half the operating budget.
Crystal Palace at least know their place in the football hierarchy. Egos do not run rampant. At Newcastle, they are commoners masquerading as kings.
Their hallowed No. 9s, their one-club city status, the Geordie mafia and all the statues around St James' Park cannot overshadow reality.
They are a big club only in the mind. Their empty trophy room has long told a different story.
At times, Pardew must have thought he worked at the Nou Camp instead of a Newcastle side who last lifted a trophy when TV matched their black and white jerseys. He was handicapped by the Toon Army's delusions of grandeur.
And his hands were always tied, either by a miserly owner or a scouting network making all his transfer decisions for him.
On the terraces, he was manager of a myth. In the boardroom, he was a manager in name only.
Omnipotent owner Mike Ashley insisted on shoving a finger into every pie, reining in the transfer spending and overseeing every squad addition.
In recent weeks, Pardew met with Ashley and asked for reinforcements to mount a charge for European qualification. Ashley was satisfied with the status quo.
When Andy Carroll and Yohan Cabaye were sold for a vastly inflated profit, Pardew had wanted replacements of a similar quality. Ashley bought second-hand old bangers and expected them to purr like a Bentley.
Buying players was not even part of Pardew's brief. Graham Carr scouted cut-price replacements, leaving the manager with the thankless task of fitting cheap, square pegs into round holes.
He lost Cabaye and ended up with ill-equipped bargain basement purchases like Facundo Ferreyra, Karl Darlow and Jamaal Lascelles.
With vultures from Arsenal and PSG waiting to pounce on Moussa Sissoko, Pardew saw the writing on the wall.
The familiar script was left over from last season. When Newcastle sold Cabaye for £19 million ($39m) in January, little of the money was reinvested and Pardew's pedestrians lost 11 of their last 14 games.
That's life under Ashley, an endless cycle of domestic drudgery, constantly stitching together the fraying edges of a torn squad. Pardew was not a tactician. He was a seamstress.
He was always "making do", patching up the holes and hoping for the best at a deluded club where supporters usually demanded the best.
Decade after decade of unmitigated failure never diluted the expectations of Newcastle fans. If anything, the annual disappointment only fuelled their impatience. They couldn't force out Ashley, so they targeted his perceived puppet, his "yes man", his fellow Londoner.
Pardew was hardly blameless. He went along with Ashley for the ride, agreeing to the owner's paranoid bans of critical media outlets and tolerating the strict budgetary constraints.
And head-butting an opponent hardly endeared himself to the average neutral.
But he survived. In 2012, he guided the Magpies to fifth and was named the League Managers Association's Manager of the Year, in spite of Ashley not because of him.
Even this season, he overcame Newcastle's early flirting with relegation to guide them to a respectable 10th position.
And now the 53-year-old is desperate to leave a "big club" for Crystal Palace.
With a spectacular lack of irony, those supporters revelling in his departure are still missing the point.
Pardew is ready to swop the mighty Magpies for relegation candidates for the same reasons that will haunt his successor.
Newcastle are now in the market for a manager who is willing to work on a limited budget and be prepared to sell his best players at a club where the profit-obsessed owner is satisfied with Premier League mediocrity as long as the balance sheet remains healthy.
Oh, and the supporters - still obsessed with distant images of Milburn, Macdonald, Keegan and Shearer - expect the club to be pushing for European qualification regularly, despite all recent evidence to the contrary.
It's not an impossible job, just a farcical one.
And while Crystal Palace may not be the perfect job for Pardew, the position does at least come with a degree of autonomy and self-respect.
At Newcastle, the manager's dignity is left at the door.
WHAT THEY SAY
Some may think it is strange for Alan Pardew to want to leave a huge club for a smaller one but the scar left by months of abuse will never heal. Plus, the lure of going back to the club that are closest to your heart can never be underestimated.
— Former Liverpool striker Michael Owen (above)
Alan Pardew probably feels that he doesn’t get the plaudits. I don’t think that his period there, with what has happened with players leaving, will be seen as a failure.
— Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville (above)
I think he’s done a good job and at times gets a bit too much criticism. If Alan Pardew went to Crystal Palace and kept them up, he could be there three or four years, I don’t see him being at Newcastle in three or four years.
— Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher (above)
Alan Pardew will know all the bits and bobs. He’s a good manager and it’s beneficial for everyone — Newcastle as well. It’s great for him to go to London.
— Former Crystal Palace manager Neil Warnock
Seems the inevitable is about to happen. Pardew to leave NUFC. Suits both parties. Think they will both realise what they have lost in time. Wouldn’t even be able to hazard a guess as to who Ashley will appoint at the Toon. You would think logically it must be Tony Pulis. But he will no doubt appoint somebody he can control and will accept transfers being out of his control. Pulis won’t have that.
— QPR midfielder Joey Barton, who spent four years at Newcastle
Who can replace Pardew?
Managed Crystal Palace to 11th place last season, before leaving the club by mutual consent at the start of the current campaign. He is linked to most Premier League clubs who are seeking a new manager, although having reportedly left the Eagles due to a falling-out with co-chairman Steve Parish over transfers, it remains to be seen whether Magpies owner Mike Ashley would give Pulis the financial support he may require.
Northumberland-born, the 53-year-old is a Newcastle supporter with plenty of experience - including two-and-a-half years at arch-rivals Sunderland. Currently at Hull, whom he led to the FA Cup final last season, although they are currently struggling at the wrong end of the Premier League.
FRANK DE BOER
The 44-year-old was strongly linked to the vacant manager's position at Tottenham earlier this year. He played more than 300 games for the club he now manages, Ajax, while also playing more than 100 games for Holland. Has an impressive contacts book following a playing career which also took in Barcelona, Rangers and Galatasaray.
Sherwood was sacked as Tottenham head coach in May, less than five months into an 18-month contact with the club he once played for. Part of Blackburn's 1995 title-winning side, he was also a midfielder with Watford, Norwich, Portsmouth and Coventry. Had talks with Parish over the vacant Palace manager's job in August - and the 45-year-old is believed to be ready for a return to top-flight management.
Owner Mike Ashley has sprung a surprise before, so McCoist may not be an outside bet. The 52-year-old former Scotland international striker, who handed in his resignation at Rangers before Christmas, presided over a testing time in the Scottish side's history. Another contender with connections to local rivals Sunderland, he played more than 50 games for the Wearside club prior to his move to Ibrox in 1983. - PA Sport.