Pardew and Abbott are worlds apart… but dream is the same
11:30 GMT, 2 October 2012
11:33 GMT, 2 October 2012
A lot can happen in eight seconds in football. So what can you achieve in eight years
Managers dream of the contract Alan
Pardew has just signed. It is Pardew's task to make the dreams of
Newcastle United fans come true.
And he has eight years. Eight years.
Big deal: Newcastle have handed eight-year contract to Alan Pardew
All managers like to claim some sort of autonomy when they take charge of a football club, but in reality those days are gone.
I had the privilege of visiting Carlisle United last week, spent a day with laughaholic Greg Abbott, as we did back in the days when he was Hull captain and part-time boss of Hunsworth Under 10s.
But there is a deadly serious side to his work too, and the daily financial difficulties he battles with Carlisle wouldn't function without his prudence. But his orders come from above.
It's the same for Pardew at Newcastle, as it was at Reading, West Ham, Charlton and Southampton. Now he has longer to deal and play with it.
Chief scout and fellow eight-yearer Graham Carr's astonishing record in the European transfer market means that when he recommends a player, the entire game listens, never mind his manager and the board. The scouting network could not be more boxed off.
Training day: Carlisle manager Greg Abbott
Slowly but decisively, Pardew eked out Chris Hughton's warriors, and quickly built his own team spirit, assuring through the immense leadership of Fabricio Coloccini, that his new players bought into it. Getting the ball to Papiss Cisse and Demba Ba helped, but Newcastle cruised to fifth last season and finished above Chelsea.
So hopes are high on Tyneside, although it is a difficult task replicating that success, never mind emulating it.
There weren't too many new signings in the summer, when fans were looking for splashing of cash from Mike Ashley, but Pardew and his bosses have emphasised the importance, and cost, of keeping their squad together.
The new campaign, with the additional European sideshow, has been dogged but far from dazzling. But by grinding out results now, they are building the foundations of more to come. Ba's goals have helped. This season is boxed off and being dealt with.
Now he can look elsewhere in the club, pinpointing youth development last week.
Carlisle made about 50,000 from the 13,000 who turned up to watch Spurs last week. A full house at White Hart Lane would have earned them about five times that amount, maybe more. That was how much their peers at Stevenage, Crawley and Leyton Orient made from their away cup exploits last season.
No surprise that those three clubs have circulated that money in their wages department to make them serious contenders this season. Abbott meanwhile has to rely on freebies and recommendations from his contacts.
He said: 'I used to argue and haggle with agents but now if they start messing about with figures, I just say “that's what we can afford, so forget it' and we move on to the next target on the list.”
Carlisle have three or four good young players – and look out for keeper Mark Gillespie and lanky striker Mark Beck – and I asked Greg, if he had the money, would he invest in an academy first
He pointed over to the Brunton Park ground and said 'No. I'd love to but it has to be out there first. That's what matters.'
It's what matters at every club.
But with eight years at your disposal, a decent budget and owners looking to invest in the cream of North East talent, Pardew has at his disposal the opportunity to help build a club from the base, take a real hands-on approach to the youth system and really build his football club.
Cattermole must tackle reckless streak
I sat down with Lee Cattermole (right) two weeks ago. And I believed him.
He said he wanted to cut out the daft lunging tackle which had cost him so many yellow cards, and reds. He knows the one, I didn't even have to mention it, and he had his own target. And I believed him. But when the red mist descends on poor old Lee in the heat of battle, he tends to forget the other 70-odd yellow cards which have been thrust in his direction in Sunderland colours.
He is an honest lad, a bullish, old-school, annoying-to-the-opposition, like Marmite, love him or hate him, pushy, demanding, infuriating, likeable, hard-working, daft, intelligent, English, kind of footballer, we don't see enough of them in the Premier League nowadays. We won't be see much of them. Sorry but it is a shame.
But he is Sunderland captain and while he is definitely maturing and growing into the role, his lack of discipline means he is out of the Wear-Tyne derby, following his red card at the end of the last one in which he'd earlier made an ugly mark.
And if Martin O'Neill is losing patience with him, which he undoubtedly and very publically is, then he is on the very precipice of a pretty long plank.
When we met, he had this observation on the captaincy. 'Listen I have never, ever worried about that,' he said. 'It is something you press guys have said since I was made captain and with everything I have ever done wrong.
'I don't want to name names but a lot of other lads get booked or sent off and no one says anything. But if it is Lee Cattermole it is a big issue and they say “he is losing the captaincy”.
'When I was made captain I thought I didn't need to change because I was captain for what I am but it is a bigger role than I thought at the time. There is so much more to it goes on behind the scenes . . . I am still learning but I do think I'm getting better.'
He's right on all those fronts. But unless he can learn to deliver his own promise to cut out the daft challenges and cards, he'll be handing it over to John O'Shea permanently.
And that would be a real shame for Cattermole, and Sunderland.
He might miss the Tyne version of the derby but Cattermole should be back for the game against his former club Middlesbrough in the Capital One Cup later the same week.
You wait for one derby…
It's a shame Boro didn't get a completely level playing field with a home tie, but they have nothing to fear after their heroics in the FA Cup draw last season. O'Neill knows Tony Mowbray's side deserved to win that day.
And even more so than that side, this is a team closer to Mowbray's vision now, and moulded by him from the mess left by Gordon Strachan. They are in the Championship shake-up early on, but have yet to shake off the inconsistency which hindered them last season.
The one advantage of travelling to Sunderland is they can do so without a care in the world. They are not expected to win, Mowbray can name his strongest side, but also use it as a motivation for the rest of his squad. It was that freedom that gave them the edge last season and O'Neill knows that too.
The Sunderland manager barely tinkered with his team against Morecambe and MK Dons, demonstrating his serious intent in a competition he has enjoyed success, so Boro can expect the full force of his squad, and an eager full house at the Stadium of Light.
And whatever the outcome of the game against Newcastle, that will add extra spice.
A great week to look forward to up here, with the added bonus that the North East definitely has a representative in the quarter-finals.
Just don't ask me who it will be.