Is Alan Pardew talking himself out of a job?

Posted by Marc Duffy

Alan PardewGettyImagesAlan Pardew: Struggling to replicate last season's achievements

This has been a very poor season for Newcastle United. With two games remaining they are still not safe from relegation -- a position no one, not even the most pessimistic person, would have predicted back in August as the campaign kicked off.

The strain is showing on manager Alan Pardew both physically and now in his press conferences.

-Heneage: Pardew 'realistic'

Earlier this week, Charles Sale of the Daily Mail wrote a piece with the headline:

'Ashley faces £10m bill to axe Pardew after agreeing bumper eight-year deal'

Sale wrote: 'Alan Pardew.... is in the fortunate position of having a contract that runs to 2020 without a break clause or maximum severance agreement.'

If this is true (and I have no reason to doubt Mr Sale) then Alan Pardew is in a very, very strong position.

It was also claimed this week that Newcastle have not included relegation clauses in several of the new signings' contracts. The Independent wrote:

'Newcastle face financial turmoil if relegated'

'The club did not insert relegation clauses into all of the five deals that were given to the French players who arrived during a spending spree which cost the club £31m....'

When Newcastle were last relegated under the ownership of Mike Ashley only four years ago, the club did not have clauses in the players' contracts. They sold as many of the high earners as they could get rid of. But they ended up playing through a Championship season with several players earning millions of pounds, while off the pitch numerous jobs were lost as Ashley desperately tried to recoup as much money as he could.

I would be very surprised if Ashley, a successful billionaire businessman, was bitten by this twice.

Thanks to Swansea's unexpected 3-2 win at Wigan, Newcastle could confirm their safety by Tuesday night. If Newcastle can pick up a point at Loftus Road on Sunday against already relegated QPR, defeat for Wigan against Champions League-chasing Arsenal at the Emirates on Tuesday would relegate the Latics.

It is yet another vital week for Newcastle United Football Club and that is what makes Pardew's comments in Friday's press conference all the more astonishing:

“My job is to manage this football club with dignity, with an honesty, which I've done, not just with the players but with the press and more importantly with our fans.

“Hopefully it’ll be good enough to keep my job next year, but that ultimate decision is not mine so we could get the points we need and Mike (Ashley) could decide he needs to move to another manager.

“I like to think that he won’t, that next year we’ll stay with myself, and we need to make some changes and we'll do that and talk about that at the end of the year. We know we’ve got an uncomfortable conversation regarding the form this year, the underachievement that’s been mentioned and everything else.

“It’ll be uncomfortable for us both, because we’ve both underachieved. Him as an owner and me as a manager. We need to find out what the reasons were and then it’s for Mike and hopefully with me to decide how to go forward.

“I’m talking about the club, we’ve underachieved as the club, so the point is we all take responsibility. I’m trying to make the point that we’ve got to be honest. It’s about making sure when we go forward – and] Derek (Llambias) as well – that we put right some of the things we put wrong this year.

“I’m confident enough that I want to be the manger of this football club. Some of the issues I've had this year, some of the selection times I've had to pick teams has been against me a lot of the time. The injuries more than anything have been a massive blow to this football club, to key players at key times, that's something we can’t afford to happen.

“We’ve had a year where we've finished fifth and everybody perhaps assumed we’d roll into that season again. We didn’t. Those reasons I shall keep to myself for this time, but I have relative views on that. In terms of, are we good enough, well we couldn't have been, because this is where we are.”

I find it absolutely incredible that a manager who has underachieved so badly has the nerve to point a finger at the man who employs him! Don't get me wrong, there is truth in what Pardew says, but surely he is making his own situation even more dangerous? He's like a man carefully treading on thin ice who suddenly decides to violently jump up and down -- unless Charles Sale was right and Pardew knows that the £10m it would cost Ashley to fire him is his safety net?

The timing could certainly have been better.

Or maybe Pardew already knows that his time at the club is up? Perhaps he's had enough and he is trying to provoke Ashley? Pardew would certainly benefit handsomely if Ashley was to end the manager's totally inconsistent time on Tyneside.

Other aspects of the press conference made me even more uncomfortable. Moussa Sissoko is now doubtful for the rest of the season after playing out of position in almost all of the games he's played since signing in January.

I certainly don't think he will be motivated and looking to get himself back quickly after Pardew said:

"We had to move for Moussa, who probably we may have done at the end of the year if we had got Loic Remy, and he is not a goalscorer."

Poorly timed, negative quotes from Pardew -- a prominent feature of a terrible season along with his blaming of as many other people and factors as he possibly can. The kids after the pathetic loss to Brighton, injuries, the 'rub of the green', the owner, tiredness, the Europa League. And so the list goes on.

Whatever happens between now and the final whistle on May 19 there is an interesting summer ahead for Newcastle United.

Twitter: @MarcSDuffy

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