Tony Pulis left Crystal Palace by mutual consent on the eve of the new Premier League campaign, but the 2014/15 edition of the 'sack race' is still yet to claim its first real victim. As always, several managers will be disposed of over the course of the season and the next favourite to befall the unenviable fate would very much appear to be Newcastle boss Alan Pardew.
After an inauspicious start to the season Toon fans' displeasure came to a head following a dismal 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Southampton and the 'sack Pardew' brigade was out in full force for the club's game against Hull, though many fans had had their banners and placards confiscated by eagle eye stewards.
It was suggested that that was the game, which ended in a 2-2 draw after Papiss Cisse inspired a second half comeback, for Pardew to save or lose his job. However, Magpies owner Mike Ashley refused to be swayed by the will of the fans and made it known he would categorically not be sacking Pardew anytime soon. Though it did come with one key condition - unless there is an impending danger of relegation.
The news may seem like a win for those who believe that too many owners, chairmen and chief executives are too trigger happy when it comes to firing managers in search of immediate success. However, in reality, Alan Pardew is lucky to have lasted in the Newcastle hot-seat for as long as he has.
The former West Ham, Charlton and Southampton took over at St James' Park in controversial circumstances in December 2010 after Chris Hughton had been unfairly relieved of his duties. Pardew got off to a good start with a 3-1 win over Liverpool and guided the club to 12th position and safety in their first season back in the top flight.
Following a very impressive 5th place finish in the 2011/12 season he was awarded an eye-wateringly long eight-year contract. That seemed to be where the problems began, though, as form, as well as the manager's personal conduct, worsened.
Pardew's team couldn't match their heroics and finished the 2012/13 season in danger of relegation, ultimately ending the campaign in 16th place. Despite the previous year's achievements, having taken the club to the brink of relegation there could have been an argument to 'let go' there and then, but at that time he was given the benefit of the doubt in the hope that a positive future could still be built.
Things began reasonably well in 2013/14, with a run of seven wins from nine games starting in early November through to Boxing Day had Newcastle in a strong position. But immediately thereafter the team went through a very dangerous run of extremely poor form, losing six of the next eight. In a Premier League table where no more than a few points could separate apparent mid-table safety from relegation, that could easily have been enough reason to show Pardew the door with enough time for a new man to turn things around.
However, Ashley was patient once more. Just a few weeks later came the infamous 'Hull Headbutt' incident, a ridiculous turn of events that nobody could have reasonably argued wasn't a just cause for dismissal.
Players may boil over from time to time, but a manager should be the mature, level-headed influence pulling his team back when they threaten to behave recklessly, not the one leading the fight. Even if the club forgave Pardew's headbutt on Hull's David Meyler itself, despite slapping him with an immediate £100,000 fine, there was a still a case for dismissal when the FA handed down a three game stadium ban, with a further four game touchline ban.
It meant that in one way or another the team would be without a manager for seven games at a crucial stage of the season and Newcastle's performances suddenly fell of a proverbial cliff.
After the incident the team won just twice more all season, losing eight times. But even after that dreadful run, not buoyed when he returned from suspension, and with the summer the perfect opportunity to bring in a new man, Pardew still managed to keep his job.
That same season he had also verbally abused Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini. A year earlier he had pushed an official and while neither were individually justification for the sack, everything adds up and the question Newcastle must ask themselves is - do they really need a man like Pardew associated with their club?
Alan Pardew may be under pressure to keep his Newcastle job and could the first sacking of the season if his team begins to struggle, but he should be incredibly thankful that he still holds the position in the first place.
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