Much has already been written following Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew’s altercation with Hull City’s David Meyler on Saturday. But not so much that I have opted to keep my opinion to myself.
I have seen the incident numerous times now, watching not so much out of interest (and certainly not enjoyment) but sitting in a sense of complete confusion that a football manager could do such a thing.
Firstly, I am well aware that players do similar on a semi-regular basis, and I am not for one moment condoning that. And secondly, I accept that far worse things have happened on a football pitch.
When a player bites an opponent and is given a 10-game ban as a result, or when another is found guilty of racist abuse and subsequently given a four-match suspension and a £220,000 fine, a manager putting his head in the face of a rival player seems somewhat trivial in comparison.
But it is not. Or at least, it shouldn’t be.
A manager is a figure-head, a leader, a man who demands discipline from his players. The moment that manager fails to control his own emotions to such an extent that he completely overreacts and head-butts someone, what chance does he have of controlling his own men or garnering their respect?
There is passion, and then there is what we saw on Saturday.
Meyler pushed Pardew in order to get the ball. That is not in question. But as a player his sole aim was surely to get the ball back and in play as soon as possible. Pardew would have known that having played the game himself.
And yet the Newcastle boss opted to approach Meyler, to ‘step-up’ to him, and to push his head forward in an aggressive manner. The way the Hull man controlled himself in such circumstances is admirable – a player keeping his head when he had been unduly provoked by someone who should know better.
The shock on the face of Hull’s Tom Huddlestone said it all; because this is not something that happens…until now.
I am firmly in the camp that believes Pardew should no longer be in a job after what happened at the weekend.
He may have apologised, but there is no excuse for what he did, and while children have seen acts of violence and ignorance go relatively-unpunished in the past, this was a chance for Newcastle to show that they do not tolerate a manager head-butting a rival player.
Just read that last line again, and explain to me how Pardew’s apology and a £100,000 fine are somehow enough.
It is incidents like this in which football begins to lose itself. And while it may take a strong man to make a stand against such foolish actions that are watched not just by those in the stadium, but by millions around the world – numerous children included – brave decisions need to start following foolhardy ones from now on.
If not, the sport I love will become one for which the boundaries of right and wrong are increasingly blurred.