Is Mike Ashley banking on Alan Pardew for England?

Newcastle United handed Alan Pardew a whopping eight year contract yesterday - meaning he is contracted to the club until 2020.

The length of the deal has shocked most people, especially with the topsy turvy way of the game nowadays. So while we should all be happy that a club's owner is backing his manager long-term, forgive us a little scepticism along the way too.

First up, it's great to see. Contrast this approach to Chelsea handing Roberto di Matteo a one-year contract this year, and it is fair to say Pardew should be feeling considerably safer in his position than the Italian when results don't go his way.

Newcastle had a terrific season last year, far above expectation, and it is no wonder Mike Ashley wants to consolidate that and lay the groundwork for Newcastle to become an established force for years to come.

While buying players has been an area where Newcastle have been short on this summer, they have been keeping hold of their stars, securing Tim Krul and Fabricio Coloccini on long-term contracts.

So what is behind this new found urge for stability, from an owner who ruthlessly fired Chris Hughton two years ago after 'a few bad results', even though the club were adjusting well upon their return to the Premier League?

Forgive the cynicism, but there is a possibility here that this is purely a business decision. Just like when Newcastle were so impressed with Cheik Tiote after his first seven months at the club, they offered him a six-and-a-half year deal which he promptly accepted.

It was not because the club wanted to offer Tiote the sort of financial security he could never have dreamed of growing up, but a calculated decision on the basis the big clubs will come calling.

It has put Newcastle in a position of strength at the negotiating table, they can now refuse to sell for less than their asking price, around £25 million, and not have to worry about the player's contract running down in a couple of years time causing his price tag to devalue.

With Alan Pardew strongly linked with the vacant England manager's post in February, we wonder if this has played a role in Ashley's decision.

There are very few possible candidates if and when Roy Hodgson walks away; if the FA are looking for an English boss, Pardew - the current LMA manager of the year - will be right at the top of the pile.

His candidness and forthright manner in interviews would make him ideal for handling the press, and the experience he is gaining with Newcastle in the Europa League will help expand his tactical knowledge of football abroad.

Harry Redknapp is of course another candidate, but whether the FA would go there after publicly snubbing him previously, and given the fact he is out of work, may count against him.

So with Pardew a surefire candidate, Mike Ashley has done well with the long-term deal. It means if the FA want him, they will have to pay the compensation owed to pay out the length of his contract.

And considering it lasts until 2020, it could be quite a windfall for the club. If paying such money puts the FA off, then Newcastle get to keep their manager. It's win-win, and a shrewd deal by the owner if such an eventuality emerges.

image: © machernucha

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