Newcastle United fans are warming to the gaffer
PUBLISHED: 15:01 25 March 2011 | UPDATED: 19:06 20 February 2013
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew is approaching the end of one of the most challenging seasons of his career. Roger Tames assesses how the latest man at the United helm has adjusted to life at St James' Park
Newcastle United have had 20 managers since they last won a major trophy under Joe Harvey and very few have taken charge with an easy task ahead of them.
A good many predecessors in the United dugout probably walked into St James Park with the team in a worse state than when current manager Alan Pardew took over.
Yet the former West Ham, Charlton and Southampton boss has had to deal with a challenge just as testing as many faced by the men whove kept the St James Park managers revolving door constantly spinning.
Pardew was hardly an appointment with the charisma of Kevin Keegan, the glamour of Ruud Gullitt or the legendary status of Sir Bobby Robson. The fans were left only a few degrees above stone cold when he moved into one of the hottest seats in football.
Now though, theyre starting to warm up, if not quite to the red hot adulation enjoyed by the clubs late and great Black and White Knight. But theyre learning that Alan Pardew is not a manager to be dismissed lightly.
Right from the day he took over when, single-handedly, he faced a sceptical media without the support of chairman or chief executive, the 49-year-old Londoner immediately showed he was assured, realistic and certainly not lacking in self-belief.
With more than a decade of experience under his belt, he likely enough appreciated that managing a club of Newcastle Uniteds size and status was a very good job to have landed, whatever the constraints from his new employers.
Kenny Dalglish may rightfully claim that he had the toughest act to follow in succeeding iconic Kevin Keegan, yet Pardew had to swim against a near-tidal wave of public affection and respect for Chris Hughton.
The squad he inherited from the Championship-winning manager contained a hardcore of strong-minded, senior pros like captain Kevin Nolan and keeper Steve Harper. Their approval needed to be earned quickly.
Then there was the Andy Carroll saga, where Pardew the pragmatist came to the fore. Far more established managers than the former Wimbledon midfielder have been obliged to turn away from their public insistences and follow the company line to take the money.
Facing the media without a replacement for the 35 million striker represented another public test. Once again, he fronted up as best he could, realising as an employee his first responsibility was to the men at the top, just like the rest of us. His own disappointment at losing his most potent forward was probably on a par with the fans.
Alan Pardews best allies have proved to be the very people who might have first doubted his appointment - the supporters. The amazing four-goal fightback against Arsenal showed the manager the inspirational power of the St James Park crowd.
Yet it also showed the fans that the essential team spirit which they so admire was very much alive under new management. The supporters are knowledgeable enough to understand Pardews problems and are realising hes a decent manager, trying to do a decent job.
Alan Pardew looks determined to make a better fist of the United job than a good few of his more illustrious predecessors.
If youre a Newcastle United supporter, how well do you think Alan Pardew has performed as manager of the club? Leave a comment below