Being named Premier League manager of the year is richly deserved for Alan Pardew.
Newcastle United have massively over-achieved when you examine their first-team and that comes down to Pardew’s top management of the side.
He’s come a long way from being the slightly-maligned West Ham United manager who led the team out of the Uefa cup in the first round and to an embarrassing League Cup loss to Chesterfield in 2006.
But now Europe is on the cards again and unless Chelsea produce the unthinkable against Bayern Munich, which they’re getting rather good at admittedly, Pardew may have a second chance to impress on the European stage.
Getting the most out of any summer signings will be crucial but will pale in significance to the importance of getting Senegalese pair Demba Ba and Papiss Cissé to keep firing in the goals next year.
For Ba particularly he will have to find a way of re-accommodating him in the team with a role he’s happy with.
But as well as Pardew’s done he still needs a win on Sunday at Everton to ensure the season is signed off as miraculous but in his way is the man who all managers should inspire to be like, for his longevity as much as for his dignity – David Moyes.
But Pardew is going about things in the right way and could well be on Tyneside for some time.
The threat of relegation might be gone but, if there’s any justice, Sunday’s trip to face Norwich City will still be the last one Alex McLeish makes as Aston Villa boss.
Depending on results, Aston Villa’s Premier League status might well be preserved solely by goal difference – a humiliating fate for a club of such history and stature.
In his defence, McLeish might argue the summer loss of Ashley Young and Stewart Downing, combined with the lengthy absences of Darren Bent and Stiliyan Petrov, made a season of struggle inevitable.
But these setbacks are no excuse for the extent of Villa’s slump. They still possess the talent to be finishing far higher than 16th. – relegation should never have entered the conversation.
Villa’s lack of success this season is bad enough, but their lack of style is McLeish’s biggest crime.
Under the Scot, they have become widely regarded as the most boring team in the Premier League.
Even the Villa Park faithful take no real pleasure in watching their team these days, and McLeish has acquired a level of unpopularity among his own fans only surpassed by Steve Kean.
The statistics speak for themselves – only Stoke City have scored fewer goals than Villa this season, and only Wolverhampton Wanderers have won fewer games.
It is simply not good enough and, if Randy Lerner has any sense, he will realise he cannot afford to waste any more time or money on a manager no one wanted in the first place.
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