Newcastle United’s performance at the KC Stadium was full of pace, power and striking prowess – everything that they’d been missing in a run of defeats that raised serious questions about Alan Pardew’s future.
So to come out of that game and all the talk to be about Alan getting the sack illustrates just how serious the incident at Hull was.
I’m still in disbelief 48 hours on that it happened – especially with Newcastle 3-1 up in a game that was not particularly bad-tempered or niggly.
There is just no need to get involved but Alan couldn’t help himself from reacting in the way he did. It was just his first instinct.
That is the biggest worry for me. Run through his incidents and you’ve got the bust-up with Arsene Wenger when he was at West Ham, the altercation with Martin O’Neill in the Tyne-Wear derby, the push on the linesman last season and then the way he spoke to Manuel Pelligrini in the Manchester City match earlier this season. It’s getting worse, not better despite the promises he makes after every incident.
The Pellegrini thing didn’t get him any punishment but I thought that was so out-of-order. It was the language used and who he used it against. Football is full of industrial language but the word he chose and the disrespect shown will not have gone down well.
This latest incident comes not long after that one, which is a bit of a worrying development.
I know Alan is full of apologies but perhaps it is time for him to consider a course of anger management. If he wants to be recognised for what he does on the field, and there was plenty to shout about at Hull, then something like that might be the only way for him to turn.
It’s unprecendented for a manager ever to headbutt a player and I think it is inevitable that the Football Association will make sure he’s not on the touchline before the end of the season. It’s a double figure ban for definite and he’s lucky that Newcastle are owned by someone like Mike Ashley.
I think if you have an owner who really loves Newcastle, Alan might have been sacked. Ashley isn’t as involved as he might have been and he’s already illustrated that Newcastle’s reputation isn’t that important to him and how he wants to run the club.
It has to change from here though because it is not a positive situation. How does he turn round to Cheick Tiote, for example, the next time he is sent off and fine him or discipline him if he has headbutted someone the previous week? It erodes some of that authority that he has in the dressing room.
Not that the players will care about this at all. It won’t mean anything to them that the manager is at the centre of a storm and that is worth remembering. Players have that selfish streak to them and you see it all the time with regards to managers: you can see a boss get the sack one week and then the next week you’re working hard for a new manager and have forgotten about the last one.
Things much worse than what happened at Hull happen inside dressing rooms and on training grounds every day. The other week I wrote about Walter Smith getting me up against a dressing room wall and I’ve seen countless fights break out on the training ground that would be major news if they got out.
But they happen in the sanctuary of the dressing room, where you’ve got people you spend a lot of time with in a highly-charged, testosterone-fuelled environment. Add in the tackles that fly about every week in training and it is inevitable that there are bust-ups and fall-outs that spill over.
The difference here is that it’s played out for everyone to see and don’t forget the Premier League is now a global game so that will have gone all over the world.
The crying shame for Alan is that the team are showing signs of turning it around on the field, which is much more important for the club.
Now John Carver will get his opportunity to lead the team for a bit and I have to say that in a weird way, it is long overdue recognition for someone who has been brilliant for Newcastle United over his coaching career.
I know JC and I know Steve Stone and Newcastle are in safe hands if Alan isn’t allowed on the touchline or in the stadium for the next 10 or so games.
JC is a top coach and a good bloke and he will step up to the plate and handle the team very well when he gets the chance.
He’s no shrinking violet himself but this is a big opportunity for John. There’s no way he’ll be looking to undermine the manager, but it’s a nice chance for him to show what he’s about if he ever considers a front-line manager’s job in the future.