Alan Pardew believes he is fighting “mass hysteria” in the North-east as he bids to save his job as Newcastle United manager ahead of a huge orchestrated protest for his removal to be mounted during Saturday’s game at St James’ Park against Hull City.
The 53-year-old said he had spoken to owner Mike Ashley after last Saturday’s 4-0 defeat at Southampton, but “we didn’t have a conversation regarding my position”. However, tensions are simmering and two of Pardew’s staff, John Carver and Andy Woodman, on Friday apologised for their actions towards United supporters before and after the Southampton game. Carver was seen in an ugly confrontation with fans holding “Pardew out” banners at the match, while Woodman has been engaged in a heated Twitter row with fans.
Tensions are set to escalate again on Saturday, however. Before kick-off a group of supporters will distribute 30,000 A4 cards and 100 banners calling for Pardew’s dismissal around the city and the stadium to be held up by fans five minutes into the game to highlight what the campaign calls “Pardew’s unacceptable” record of just five wins in 2014. The logo on the cards and banners says “Pardew out” in the same design as the logo of Ashley’s company Sports Direct,
The groundswell of feeling against Pardew is such that he claimed 98 per cent of supporters polled by the Newcastle Evening Chronicle, said his near-four-year reign should end.
However, Pardew is worried that the anger being prepared for him on Saturday could affect the team’s performance.
“This situation at the moment is almost like mass hysteria, to a degree,” he said. “It’s really gone to a level which makes it really difficult for players to perform in. I am hoping we can turn that around. It’s important the issue regarding me has to take a back seat in terms of the team. It’s going to be a difficult environment if we have the atmosphere we had for Southampton for long periods.
“There’s nothing I can do to stop them protesting and I don’t intend to, but all I do hope is that they give the team the chance to win the game and that the protest comes quickly and goes as quickly and hopefully we take the lead and we can see the game out.
“I think I’m kind of resolved to how the stadium is going to be and I think I’ve prepared the players for that. I’m hoping that myself and the team can handle it. I think the worst scenario would be still protesting when we’re winning – that would be unwelcome.
“It has been suggested that I don’t care about this position, and that I’ve got this long contract [until 2020] and that I’m going through the motions. Nothing could be further from the truth. I love this club.
“I was absolutely sick after the game on Saturday. The performance we put in is just not worthy of this football club. I’ve been accused of not taking responsibility for the defeat. I think it’s important that you try and give a logical explanation as to why, and that’s what I’ve always done and what I will try and do on Saturday if we get beat. I’m hoping that’s not the case.
“Yes, I have been hurt this week. For me, it really is about, what can I do then? Well, I’m under contract at this football club and therefore I have to make sure I do the best possible job I can do. I didn’t have so much of a steely resolve on Monday, if I’m being honest. Our resolve was definitely half-empty on Monday, but by Tuesday it wasn’t.
“I’ve tried to prepare the players for the scenarios ahead, because I know that will be a difficult environment to play in on Saturday.”
Of his meeting with Ashley, Pardew said: “He was upset with the performance [at Southampton] and he has every right to be. I told him some things which I think should be sorted out and some things that can help me. At the end of the day, Mike and myself do not want Newcastle to lose. We want to have the best possible team and want to win. At the moment we haven’t got that. So how are we going to achieve it? I think it was about how he could help me this week and support me and I appreciate that.”
Independent News Service