Ed Woodward gets plenty of criticism (and some of it richly deserved), but Nick Miller describes a numbers man pushed into the Old Trafford limelight. It's not easy...
It's been a long time in the making, that Southampton Philosophy. And in one summer, it's all been ripped asunder. Has it been replaced by another or the same old?
In certain parts of the country...actually, scratch that, let's not be coy about this - in the w*nkier parts of London, there are things called 'creative hubs' which allow people who a) generally work alone and b) take themselves far too seriously, to congregate in an office space.
They're a place for freelance designers, journalists and more often than not 'entrepreneurs' to concentrate their collective vacuous bullsh*t in one place, so as to keep the rest of town as uncluttered with such unpleasantness as possible.
As you might expect, these places are full of ghastly people who combine words to create phrases that have no genuine meaning in reality. They're just noises or shapes on a screen that combine the very worst and most clichéd elements of David Brent and Nathan Barley, mix them together and bind them with a bulletproof sense of self-regard.
'I am London based startup founder with a passion for disruptive innovation,' is one, mystifyingly genuine example of such talk, on the website of a company that is supposed to encourage people to work with them. If anyone can explain, in one sentence, exactly what the hell 'disruptive innovation' is, please do so in the comments section.
It's hard to escape the conclusion that, if he wasn't a football manager, Alan Pardew would look very much at home in these places. The fondess for his own reflection. The air that he's unshakably certain that he's just a little bit smarter than you. The glasses. The ever-present glass of pineapple juice.
Pardew has the look of a man who comes into work every day at around 10.30am, twirling the keys of his Porsche Boxter (he read about it in Top Gear magazine) around his finger, makes a faintly lewd comment to the receptionist then proceeds to dick about with nobody having a clear idea of what he's there for before popping out for a two-hour lunch, after which he gets in another solid couple of hours dicking about, before leaving at 4pm, revving the car he knows nothing about just loud enough so everyone in the office can hear.
The image of Pardew as a faintly creepy director of a creative industry doesn't necessarily suggest a man who has a predilection for minor bursts of largely unprovoked violence. It's often said of the more 'robust' players in football that they could start a fight in a phonebox; scrappy types like Dennis Wise, Paul Ince and Lee Cattermole would happily get punchy with little encouragement (actually, Cattermole would deliver a vicious two-footed challenge to a damp Yellow Pages from 1997, then wander off shaking his head and wondering how the world had conspired against him again), but not Pardew.
The most curious thing about Pardew's occasional forays into the world of fisticuffs is that they are seemingly utterly inexplicable and appear to come from nowhere. He doesn't strike one as a coiled spring of rage, ready to explode at any moment and at the slightest provocation.
Take the latest example, the 'footballer's headbutt' on David Meyler, which was the sort of 'violent' act that would be laughed at in some of Glasgow's spicier pubs, but nonetheless ranks pretty high on the 'Ah, you probably shouldn't do that' scale. Meyler had committed the decidedly un-heinous sin of trying to retrieve the ball for a throw-in, brushing against Pards on the way, so of course, the natural reaction to such a gross invasion of personal space is to throw the nut in. Of course it is.
To don the amateur psychologist's...actually, what do psychologists wear? Tweed jacket with elbow patches? Trilby? Arseless chaps? Anyway - to take the role of amateur psychologist for a moment, it could be that Pardew's occasional bursts of the inexplicable are an effort to scream at the world 'I'll show you'.
He is a man who, since joining Newcastle at least, has consistently had to justify himself, from the appointment in the first place, deposing the very popular Nice Man Chris Hughton amid a flurry of accusations that he was only there because he was Mike Ashley's pontoon buddy down the casino, to that comical eight-year contract, Pardew has always seemed to be a man facing questions about his very existence, the constant suspicion that he really shouldn't be in such a job, despite perfectly respectable results and being the Premier League's second-longest-serving manager.
Pardew is seemingly a man on an ongoing mission to prove a point, to make you notice he is there, which can manifest itself through machismo and aggression, making sure everyone knows how great he is or simply acting like a bit of a dick. It might stem from a deep, crippling insecurity, it might stem from a reaction to the streams of criticism that seem to head his way, or it might stem from being a bit of a dick.
Or, perhaps he's just committed to disruptive innovation. We may never know.
Nick Miller - follow him on Twitter