Pardew tries to replicate Sir Bobby
Published 03/12/2013 | 11:16
Alan Pardew has revealed former Newcastle boss Sir Bobby Robson was his beacon as he found himself engaged in a desperate fight to restore Newcastle's fortunes.
The man who guided the Magpies to an unexpected fifth-placed finish at the end of the 2011-12 season was plunged into the horrors of a relegation battle just months later as the demands of European football took a heavy toll on their domestic commitments.
Pardew's detractors grew in both number and volume as a disappointing campaign drew to a close, and while attention was deflected away from him to an extent by Joe Kinnear's controversial appointment as Director of Football and then a minimal summer recruitment drive, a significant proportion of the club's support was less than satisfied with the 52-year-old's continued presence at St James' Park.
A thumping 4-0 defeat at Manchester City, a first-half capitulation at Everton and a derby defeat by Sunderland did little to silence his critics, but four successive Barclays Premier League victories have catapulted the club into sixth place as they head for Swansea on Wednesday evening, and that is a source of personal satisfaction.
Pardew said: "You have to prove yourself as a manager at any club, but particularly at a big club, that you can handle the tough times.
"I did that at West Ham and got a lot of respect from West Ham fans, more for that, probably, than some of the great victories and getting to the cup final and the promotion we got.
"Maybe it will be the same here. Maybe in the future, people will look back on that year and say, 'Well, he still handled it with a bit of dignity and respect', which I tried to do.
"Bobby Robson brought that to this job and for me, that's the beacon for me to make sure I uphold those traditions."
Pardew has been in the game long enough to know criticism is part and parcel of what he does, although he admits it has been more difficult for some of his players to cope with the trials and tribulations of the last 12 months.
Owner Mike Ashley brought forward the club's summer transfer plans to January with top-flight survival the overwhelming priority, but the arrivals of Mathieu Debuchy, Massadio Haidara, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Moussa Sissoko and Yoan Gouffran did not pay instant dividends.
However, Debuchy, Gouffran and Sissoko have been among the club's top performers in recent weeks.
Pardew said: "The players are not so immune to it as myself because I have been in the game a long, long time.
"They were probably more hurt than me and it's their response that should take more credit because they are the ones who actually have to perform.
"It's a difficult audience at times, but at the minute, it's easy to play. The crowd is on our side, they are right behind us and therefore, we are making life easy for ourselves."
In the circumstances, Pardew will head for the Liberty Stadium with his stock rising once again during a week which has seen no fewer than seven managers lose their jobs, although he is well aware of the fragility of the position in which he and his counterparts operate.
He said: "It's very, very difficult - you have only got to look at AVB [Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas] this last week.
"Up until that result at Manchester City, I didn't see anything wrong with that season too much, really, and suddenly it was a disaster, so one game can change the outlook very, very quickly."
While Villas-Boas may or may not be under pressure at White Hart Lane, Pardew could be in the running for the Manager of the Month award for November, although he prefers to concentrate on what lies ahead for his team.
He said: "I don't really care about the honours too much. The most important thing is we have proven in November that we were as good as anybody, and now we have got to take that into December."