What should have been a straightforward and comprehensive 4-1 victory for Newcastle United over Hull City on Saturday was overshadowed by what can only be described as an act of common thuggery by Newcastle manager Alan Pardew.
In a bizarre turn of events, with his team leading comfortably, Pardew reacted to a shove by David Meyler by headbutting the Hull midfielder; an action which looks to have severe repercussions for the former Charlton and West Ham manager.
However, should the FA treat this incident as an isolated moment of madness, or a sign of a serious character flaw that needs to be addressed?
Firstly, it is important to note that this is not the first time Pardew has been involved in touchline controversy in recent years. In January, the magpies’ boss was forced to apologise for swearing at Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini, whilst in August 2012 he received a two match ban for pushing assistant referee Peter Kirkup during a game against Tottenham Hotspur. Finally, Pardew also received a £10,000 fine for an altercation with Arsenal's Arsene Wenger.
Clearly, these previous incidents show Pardew has difficulty in controlling his temper whilst on the touchline. However, this latest incident is far more severe than his previous misdemeanours. To lose ones temper during a close fought and passionate encounter is one thing, but to headbutt an opposition player with your team leading comfortably is simply inexcusable.
Newcastle have reacted quickly to the incident, fining their manager a huge £100,000 and warning him about his future conduct.
However, some pundits have suggested this is not sufficient and Pardew ought to be punished more severely. Ex-Wales midfielder and BBC pundit Robbie Savage has claimed Pardew deserves at least a ten game ban, whilst some newspapers have even suggested Pardew ought to be sacked over the incident.
Despite this not being Pardew’s first offence, and even given the violent nature of the incident, I cannot help but feel that sacking Pardew would be excessive from Newcastle. Everyone makes mistakes, particularly in the heat of the moment, and it is important to note that Pardew’s actions were not totally unprovoked, as was suggested by Match of the Day on Saturday night.
Meyler appeared to deliberately push the Newcastle manager moments previous to the incident, and although he was probably trying to retrieve the ball for the throw in, his actions were unnecessary and certainly played a part in causing Pardew to react in the way he did.
Therefore, I think that sacking Pardew would be unduly harsh and unnecessary from his club, especially when one considers that Manchester United did not sack Eric Cantona for his infamous ‘karate-kick’ on a Crystal Palace fan back in 1995; an event which could have had far more severe consequences on the wellbeing of the spectator in question.
Furthermore, I also feel that an FA ban of ten games would be unfair on Pardew.
Yes, his actions were completely unacceptable and he deserves a ban, but given the charges handed out by the FA and other football governing bodies for similar incidents in the past, I think that ten games would be unduly harsh.
Jose Mourinho received only a five game ban from the RFEF in spain for intentionally ‘gouging’ the eye of Barcelona coach Tito Villanova in 2011, whilst the likes of John Terry and Luis Suarez have received shorter bans despite being convicted of racial abusing a fellow player.
To suggest that racial abuse is a less severe offence than a headbutt would be totally disgraceful from the FA.
This incident, and previous ones, clearly show that Pardew is not the brightest manager in the Premier League. His actions were totally inexcusable and bear the hallmark of someone with serious anger management issues.
However, sacking him or banning him for more than five games would, in my opinion, be madness. Pardew ought to face a hefty fine, and be required to attend anger management classes before he is allowed to return to the dugout. He should not, however, face the sack.
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