Ben Arfa storm underlines Alan Pardew's text book man management

By Lee Ryder on Jun 21, 12 11:59 AM

It didn't take long for it all to start kicking off in the French camp did it?

And with our very own Hatem Ben Arfa at the centre of controversy following the 2-0 loss against Sweden for Les Bleus.

Angry at being subbed during the defeat, Ben Arfa has reportedly told Laurent Blanc he is free to send him home if he so wishes - a situation many United fans wouldn't complain about if it meant he was safe from injury ahead of huge season at St James' Park.

Ben Arfa also made a phone call during the team debriefing which also angered Blanc but if anything this just goes to show what a great job Alan Pardew, John Carver and Steve Stone have done when it comes to man management with the Toon star.

Even before Ben Arfa joined the Magpies in 2010 he had the reputation as a hot head.

But, after overcoming injuries it is clear that the French star has cooled down and matured.

And Pardew and Co have helped keep a lid on his demons.

When they've needed to humour Ben Arfa, they've done that and when they've needed to tell him he's out of line they've done it in exactly the right way, in private and in a way that Bobby Robson managed to tick off players but still had them leaving his office with a smile on their face.

I suppose it is all down to whether people can crack man management or not.

Like all talismen, Ben Arfa comes across as a frustrated genius sometimes - but as Toon fans know only too well, when the player is on song he can be as good as anybody in the Premier League.

The job of Pardew and his backroom team is to get the best out of him like any player, yet the United manager was strong enough to leave Ben Arfa out of the team in the first half of the campaign last year.

That was because he knew he wasn't fit enough after coming through injury problems sustained both last season and on the pre-season tour of America.

Is Ben Arfa a high-maintenance character?

Of course.

Is he unmanageable?

Far from it.

The results are there for all to see from Pardew after his superb goals against the likes of Bolton Wanderers and Blackburn Rovers last term.

In fact it is a test for managers in at the very top to deal with the hot heads.

Alex Ferguson has done it for years at Manchester United with the likes of Eric Cantona, Roy Keane and Ronaldo.

Aime Jacquet was successful with the likes of Zinedine Zidane in the World Cup of 1998 which culminated with Zizou scoring twice against Brazil in the final.

And Bobby Robson managed to keep stars like Gazza under control at Italia 90, before later bringing out the best in Kieron Dyer, Jermaine Jenas and Craig Bellamy getting to the Champions League in 2002 - before of course they began believing their own hype and imploded.

But looking after Ben Arfa has so far been a major success for Pardew and certainly a contributing factor to him winning two manager of the year awards.

Perhaps, Blanc could give Pardew a quick ring to help smooth over his problems at Euro 2012.


Lee Ryder

Lee Ryder - Proudly born and bred on Tyneside, the Chronicle's chief sports writer has followed the fortunes of the club over the last three decades as a Toon fan and football writer.

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