x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Alan Pardew is a visionary

The Newcastle manager has managed to take the club a year into the future, already, writes Will Batchelor.

Newcastle United are level with Chelsea in the Premier League, putting them a year ahead of Alan Pardew’s schedule.
Newcastle United are level with Chelsea in the Premier League, putting them a year ahead of Alan Pardew’s schedule.

Do not be surprised if you see a DeLorean DMC-12 nestled between the Bentleys and Range Rovers outside Newcastle United FC's training ground. Alan Pardew, the manager, has admitted to dabbling in time travel.

"I'll state it clearly," he said this week. "We are a year ahead of schedule."

A year? Great Scot! (Actually, Newcastle have not had one of those since Duncan Ferguson, but you get the reference to Doc Brown in Back to the Future, I'm sure.)

What he meant was that he did not expect his team to be in the happy position of battling for a shot at European competitions so soon.

The Magpies are flying high in the Premier League, level on points with fifth-placed Chelsea and 10 ahead of the chasing pack. Their target for this season - a top-10 finish - has already been smashed.

Of course, we all know it is wrong to tinker with the space-time continuum. To demonstrate his folly, Pardew should have given that press conference while clutching a photograph of Newcastle's first team. We could have watched the faces gradually disappear - magically replaced by youth players, free transfers and cheap imports -as Mike Ashley, the owner, sold them off at inflated "European footballer" prices.

Either way, such behaviour cannot be tolerated. Just imagine the chaos if all the Premier League managers started leaping a year into the future.

Roberto Mancini would have to tell us about Manchester City's prospects from the comfort of a television punditry sofa, for example, instead of the manager's chair.

Aston Villa's Alex McLeish, meanwhile, would be salivating over the prospect of a possible top-six finish. Admittedly, it would be a top-six finish in the Championship, but in 2013 Villa fans will have to take joy where they can find it.

If Harry Redknapp winds the calendar forward to April 2013, he will probably find himself back at Tottenham. Man, that England manager honeymoon period is getting shorter every time.

Kenny Dalglish will be much the same in a year's time: still ranting about the global conspiracy to deny Liverpool FC the success they so richly deserve. The only difference will be that, by 2013, he will be wearing a tinfoil hat to protect him from the harmful rays which the football establishment are zapping into Anfield, protected by media silence.

Across Stanley Park at Everton, however, David Moyes will be continuing his dignified attempt to make the best out of meagre resources. Well, I say "across" Stanley Park. In 12 months time, Everton may be so skint they are playing IN Stanley Park, with jumpers for goalposts.

Talking of under-resourced managers Steve Kean will still be at Blackburn this time next year, with some impressive statistics under his belt: the booing of his name by the Ewood Park faithful reduced from a peak 167 decibels to an average of just 82.

The increasingly irritable Arsene Wenger will once again be watching Arsenal matches from the stands next April. Not because he has been banned by the FA again but because, as manager of Real Madrid, he is no longer allowed to sit in the dugout at the Emirates.

But if Wenger is at Real Madrid next season, where will Jose Mourinho be? In a blue tracksuit, for sure, but will it be the blue of Chelsea or Manchester City? I have no idea, but it will be fascinating to find out.

If only Alan Pardew could hop into his DeLorean and tell us. For that juicy nugget, I think we would all forgive his tinkering with the space-time continuum.

sport@thentional.ae

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