Club Focus – Newcastle – Pardew takes on St James’ Park hot seat

Mike Ashley has wasted little time in appointing a successor to Chris Hughton by naming Alan Pardew as the latest manager to take up residency on Tyneside. The former West Ham and Charlton boss has been handed a five and a half year deal with the challenge of ensuring survival this season. Pardew has walked into a difficult position with only a small minority of fans supporting his selection and a dressing room of players extremely close to the former occupant. This will undoubtedly be the hardest challenge of Pardew’s management career to date.

The 49 year old first made a name for himself at Reading but it was his time with West Ham that he enjoyed his greatest success. He led the Hammers to promotion from the Championship in 2005 and then went within minutes of winning the FA Cup final the following season. However after guiding West Ham to their worst ever start to a season in 70 years he was sacked. Pardew was unable to keep Charlton in the Premier League and was dismissed in 2008 with the club struggling in the Championship. He enjoyed some success with his last club Southampton in League One but was sacked due to a poor start to this campaign and rumours of unrest in the dressing room.

Sensibly Pardew has managed to secure himself a long-term contract with the Magpies which should provide some much needed job security. He has quickly indentified the need to foster a strong understanding in the dressing room between players and management. Under Hughton team spirit was as big a factor as individual performances. Pardew said: “The problem I’m going to have initially is the players. I need to get my message across quickly and with clarity so as not to get any resentment at a time when they are doing reasonably well. The battles I need to win are on the pitch. I understood what was going to happen if I took the job.”

In a fans’ poll ran by a local newspaper Pardew’s name was near the bottom in the final results. Over 1000 supporters contacted the Newcastle Chronicle with their choice for the next manager with Pardew’s name getting just 2% of the votes. While fans’ support is by no means a guarantee of success it at least gives a new manager some bedding in time. If results do not go for Pardew quickly then he will face the fans’ wrath quicker than most. With a tough looking run of fixtures over Christmas and a potential banana skin against Stevenage in the cup Pardew will be hoping he gets off to a good start immediately.

This is now the fifth permanent manager Mike Ashley has appointed and he knows he can ill afford to get another appointment wrong. While it is by no means as surprising as the selection of Joe Kinnear as manager it is still something of a shock to most football pundits. There will no doubt be countless protests against the Ashley regime before, during and after Saturday’s game against Liverpool. His cause will not be helped by claims in the media that Pardew and Magpies’ Managing Director Derek Llambias are acquaintances on the London social scene.

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