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The FA Cup Fourth Round

Mark's Monday Moan: Time to punish Pards

Mark Holmes rues opening-day disappointment for Stoke, Liverpool and Arsenal, and urges the FA to throw the book at Alan Pardew.

Last Updated: 27/01/13 at 13:13 Post Comment

Pardew: Let himself down again

Pardew: Let himself down again

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For many people the new football season brings joy and relief. For me it brings crushing disappointment, fury and dread.

Yep, it's great to be back! Here's what had me moaning and groaning over the first weekend.

It's the hope that kills you

The days before the new season are brilliant. Wondering how your new signings will fit in, convincing yourself the manager has learnt his lessons, and dreaming of a fantastic season...nothing can go wrong before a ball is kicked.

But then the action begins and, for many of us, that familiar sinking feeling sets back in.

As a Stoke fan, I watched us take control of a game only for our manager, Tony Pulis, to withdraw our main attacking threats and have the team sit deep to defend the lead. Predictably, we conceded a late equaliser.

Liverpool fans, meanwhile, so bullish before the new season that they were ready to have me locked up for suggesting they could finish outside the top six, suffered a similar feeling of dejection at West Brom.

Brendan Rodgers famously once said of his then-Swansea side that "nine times out of 10, if we make a certain number of passes we will win the game."

Well, Liverpool enjoyed 60% of the possession at The Hawthorns, but, despite what Rodgers claims, passes count for nothing if your star striker fluffs his lines in front of goal. Reds fans got used to seeing Luis Suarez doing exactly that last season and on Saturday, new manager, new style and new players in position, the visiting supporters saw Suarez do it all again. Ahh, football!

Arsenal fans also suffered a familiarly depressing weekend as it was announced that Alex Song is off to Barcelona...shortly after the Gunners had fired a blank in front of goal against Sunderland, minus their star striker Robin van Persie.

Yep, it's definitely the hope that kills you.

In the know?

Like most football fans, I love the transfer window. Even though most of the rumours will come to absolutely nothing, it's impossible not to get excited by the hundreds of players invariably linked to your club every summer. 18-year-old wonderkids from South America, season-long loan deals for ageing legends, big-money moves for the out-of-favour striker - no matter how tenuous or far-fetched the link, you will get excited.

The clubs themselves, of course, rarely comment on rumours, but, ahem, fortunately, the internet is now awash with people offering the inside track on your manager's summer shopping list. The 'In The Knows'.

They can't reveal their name, their sources or often even the exact players your club is interested in, but these mysterious bringers of news will have fans hanging on their every word during July and August.

After all, with a Twitter handle like 'Agent_ITK' or 'intheknow99' they must know something, right? I mean, they've actually included 'ITK' in their name. They must know what's going on!

Last-minute hitches to deals, 11th hour interest from elsewhere and changes of heart from the manager means these fountains of knowledge can never be wrong, and rest assured you will be hearing about it if one of the 5,000 rumours they've started actually comes to fruition. Remember where you heard it first (or thereabouts anyway).

You ain't seen me, right?

Throw the book at pushy Pardew

Alan Pardew has proved himself to be an excellent football manager at Newcastle, but he has also constantly served reminders of what an arrogant, distasteful, dislikeable man he is, too.

Newcastle fans might try to defend him, but deep down even they know it - after all, it wasn't so long ago they were protesting about his appointment!

Pardew has clearly got bored of touchline spats with opposing managers, though, so decided to take his persistent anger out on an assistant referee on Saturday.

"It was ridiculous and I apologised publicly," Pardew said after the game. "He was right in front of me and I thought the ball was out and I shoved him. I went to see him and told him it was stupid and I don't know what I was thinking."

Pardew's problem is that he doesn't think. He may well be a nice bloke away from the football pitch, but he is a lunatic on the side of it and, quite frankly, an embarrassment to Newcastle Football Club.

Speculation is that Pardew will not be hit with the sort of 11-game ban Paolo Di Canio famously got for pushing Paul Alcock in 1998, but, for me, what he did was even worse.

As a manager he is supposed to set an example to his players, and on the touchline he is Newcastle's representative to their supporters, to their opponents, and to the millions of football fans watching the game worldwide.

Yet again he has shown up that great football club and, first day or not, the Football Association should throw the book at him.

Let me know what annoyed you over the weekend, and remember you can follow me on Twitter @Homzy

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