Newcastle manager Alan Pardew has been charged by the FA with improper conduct following his clash with Hull midfielder David Meyler.
Pardew has been the subject of debate this weekend following his pitch-side confrontation with David Meyler and, whilst the Magpies’ boss apologized immediately after the incident in which he appeared to headbutt the Hull midfielder, his behaviour has brought about ‘outrage’ from the press and pundits.
Former Wales international and BBC pundit Robbie Savage has called for the Newcastle boss to be banned for ten matches by the FA as a punishment as former Crystal Palace manager Steve Coppell described his reaction as ‘non-league’.
I am not asserting that Pardew’s behavior was not inappropriate or that he shouldn’t face punishment from the Football Association. Even the man himself has recognized his behaviour was unacceptable and that there is no place for it in the top-level game.
However, I am not surprised when a manager or player behaves aggressively in a manner that is confrontational – English football, whether at non-league level or Premier League level is characterized across the board as aggressive and physical.
On the pitch, we wax lyrical about the heroism and commitment of players like Roy Keane and John Terry – we bemoan the ‘softness’ of teams like Arsenal. We relish the off-field provocation of managers like Jose Mourinho and use language of battle and war to describe the game. It’s all just ‘part of the game’ until a group of fans become violent or Eric Cantona kung-fu kicks a fan or a England star beats someone up in a nightclub. Luis Suarez bites an opponent and the Prime Minister has to comment on it.
Alan Pardew’s antics at the weekend were wrong but they were not out of place in a sport and an industry that promotes aggression both physically and verbally - if a player headbutts an opponent on the pitch, he gets a red card and sits out the next game or three and then he’s back on the pitch with the fans singing his name.
Those who have come out to deplore Pardew are the same pundits who call for more aggression and commitment in the game week after week.
They say football is a gentleman’s game played by thugs and oftentimes it’s hard to disagree with that. Within a frame of physical aggression, cynical fouls and big game build-ups that look like adverts for war, only a hypocrite would find Alan Pardew’s conduct out of place.
image: © Brian Minkoff - London Pixels