I bet £5 that Hulk would be the top scorer at the World Cup. Had I bet that he would have turned up for the opening game with ‘Lighthouse Family’ CDs glued all over his otherwise naked body it couldn’t have been a much worse bet.
I am, unquestionably, a terrible gambler. But that is most likely because my true aptitude lies not in betting on the kicking, catching, chucking or thwacking of various sized balls but on human behaviour. Where I live, I bet myself that the bus driver with ‘Where’s Your F*cking Tool?’ tattooed on his neck would, at some point, punch a teenager. He did. I bet that the fisherman who habitually sinks four cans of Kestrel before midday would one day accidentally hook a cyclist, small child and/or swan. So far we’re just waiting on the swan.
And now I bet, fairly confidently, that Alan Pardew will do something ridiculous this season. The Newcastle United manager isn’t so much of a loose cannon as an entirely unattached cannon filled with bat shit and frenetic techno music. Whether it’s his crass abuse of Manuel Pellegrini, his tussle with officials or even very nearly becoming the first and only man Arsene Wenger has ever punched in the face, Pardew is a magnet for bother. Sticking his face rather awkwardly into David Meyler’s was, in isolation, silly and inappropriate – but the meat of the 10 game ban he served was not for the nut, but rather for the fact that he persistently demonstrates that he is a man not in control of himself.
Now Pards declares that he has changed. I’m not sure I believe it, and I’m absolutely certain I don’t want it to be true. Having Pardew on the touchline for a game is like setting fire to a wheelie bin full of batteries. You know something will happen at some point, you’re just not entirely sure what.
Sadly for Pardew, he seems to have two concurrent streams of reputation. On one hand he is the player-ruiner, the scoundrel, the foul-mouthed yob, the loon. On the other hand he is a well-regarded manager who has had relative success with a club that, even by it’s own hilarious standards, is in a period of remarkable unpredictability. One day you’re skirting around the top four of the Premier League on the back of some of the most productive European scouting in recent years, the next day Joe Kinnear bowls in and tries to sign Nicholas Lyndhurst, a bag of old ham and a scuba mask filled with dolphin tears.
But whatever qualities Pardew may have it’s all horribly undermined by his tendency to behave like a toddler who’s been laced with Capri Sun and blue Smarties. Do we picture the Pardew who is currently the second longest serving top-flight manager or do we picture the Pardew who we may or may not catch behind Argos bumming a pigeon?
He may not be your cup of tea. You may actually like to pour your cup of tea directly on his genitals. But for anyone who enjoys anticipating those wild spasms of human behaviour, he’s a magnificent subject. My own tip is that he’ll get so furious during a game this season that he’ll deliberately break his own leg. I should have put the Hulk fiver on that. Damn it.
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