3. Not trying to win a cup
Arguably the biggest sin. Listen, 9th/10th is fine if there was any intent to win a cup, or any desire to improve. But this regime repeatedly tells us they have no desire to achieve anything. It’s all about collecting the TV money and striving for mediocrity. I look at the likes of Swansea, Wigan, Hull, Bradford, Birmingham, Portsmouth and Sunderland in cup finals and ask: why can’t that be Newcastle? It’s fine to not win a domestic trophy – only two per season can – but to field weakened teams and not even try is unforgivable. There is a total apathy around the club’s hierarchy towards cup games and Pardew’s four FA cup eliminations happened against the mighty Stevenage, Brighton (twice) and Cardiff. Only one FA Cup game has been won and that was thanks to Hatem Ben Arfa’s wondergoal against Blackburn. The League Cup hasn’t gone much better.
Counter-argument: Some of these minnows were relegated that season; it’s not worth the risk.
So this is what football has come to? Don’t try to win, in case you get relegated. Don’t aim for glory. Because yes, Birmingham and Wigan went down – Sunderland may join them – but some didn’t. To Wigan, the cup run enhanced their survival chances because it rejuvenated them, adding team spirit and momentum. Pardew and Ashley believe the Europa League place given to cup finalists is actually a punishment, something to deter them completely. It’s not worth the mediocre prize money. Yet this lacklustre attitude towards trophies could backfire on Pardew; as it could’ve prevented this unrest and saved his job.