ALAN Pardew and his coaching team are reaping the rewards of their tireless work, according to the manager’s biggest fan Alan Smith.
Smith might not have forced his way into the plans of the Newcastle manager, but he remains hugely impressed by Pardew and influential lieutenant John Carver.
Offering a unique insight into how Pardew works, Smith believes planning and a clarity of vision has paved the way for success.
“He never leaves anything to chance. He never leaves a stone unturned,” said Smith. “He tells everyone what is required, they know exactly what he expects and things are just meticulous.
“Believe me, in modern-day football that vision is massive. Concentration levels are as important as anything else, now his coaching team know they are part of the team.
“Look at the work they did with (Hatem) Ben Arfa, who has started to play recently. He struggled to adapt to our football and the style of it at first, now you’ve seen in the last four or five weeks how good he can be.
“I spoke to the manager virtually every day when I was there. He asked me certain stuff about certain players and what I thought.
“I’ve been in the Premier League since I was 17, if you know what I mean? I spoke to him regularly. We never fell out.
“He’s getting the rewards for the hard work he’s done throughout the season. It’s coming to fruition now and I think that having John Carver and Steve Stone really helps. Sometimes as a manager it’s really hard to take yourself out of it and let others lead. But he does that, he has that trust in them and it has a positive impact.”
There is no bitterness from Smith at dropping down the pecking order, although it was difficult for the veteran campaigner.
“There’s a long time between Saturday afternoon and Sundays,” he explains. “You think all the time ‘I wish I was playing’ but come Monday morning you’re ready to play again, hoping that next Saturday you might get picked.
“If you ever lose that appetite or that belief, you may as well pack in playing.”
Smith headed out to MK Dons on loan at the end of January, and added: “I was getting to the stage where I needed to be playing football. I didn’t want to be one of those players who comes to the end of my career resenting it.”