Alan Pardew has the support of the boardroom as he faces down the hardest period of his time at St James’ Park. And, as he tells chief sports writer Mark Douglas, he is desperate to repay their faith.
THE best way to describe the continuing relationship between the board and manager at Newcastle United is robust.
Robust because – as Alan Pardew insists – they remain a “massive support” despite a damaging run of four straight Premier League defeats. But sturdy as those relations remain in spite of some local difficulties, the word “robust” could also be applied to the regular conversations that take place between Derek Llambias and Pardew (pictured).
Mike Ashley is a demanding employer, as Pardew himself confessed when he signed his eight-year deal back in September. “In Mike’s mind it’s ‘You better do well’,” he said at the time, before quipping that the owner’s expectations are a victory every week.
So when Pardew’s phone rang this week for a post-Potteries debrief, the content was an unsurprising mix of the searching and the supportive.
“I don’t think demanding is the word, the word from the boardroom is concern. We want to get going again and obviously to do well,” Pardew said. “They’ve given me massive support this week in trying to help me get the result I want, almost asking me ‘What can they do for me?’ At the minute there’s not much they can do for me. Little things here and there could help but they’ve been very forthcoming in that.”
Of all the issues that Pardew is looking to face down at the moment, his own employment prospects should not be exercising his mind unduly.
It is not that there is complacency, for Pardew admits his eight-year contract is as much symbolic as practical.
He recognises that it is no guarantee that he will get eight years to complete his transformation of Newcastle in the image that he craves – but that fact is it does protect him against some of the wilder speculation that seems to surround his managerial colleagues. Similarly, the restlessness of those at Stamford Bridge and the Emirates has not manifested itself among the Newcastle support, who responded to the defeat at Stoke with a hearty round of applause rather than cat-calls.
That pleased Pardew, who warms to the theme that Newcastle are engaged in an eight-year project, not an eight-week one.
“Absolutely,” he says. “Unfortunately for us we’ve had a real turn of events in terms of injuries,” he said. “I can’t think of a Premier League club in the last couple of years that has suffered as badly as we have in terms of (injuries to) key players. You can almost look in every position.
“People are asking me about the window and what am I going to do, but you could argue we’re weak in every position through injury. Ryan Taylor at full-back, Haris (Vuckic), Dan Gosling and Yohan Cabaye in the midfield, Shola (Ameobi), Papiss (Cissé) and Demba (Ba) missing, (Gabriel) Obertan and Hatem (Ben Arfa) out wide.”