New manager facing chorus of boos from unhappy fans
WHEN Alan Pardew takes his seat in the directors' box on Saturday it will not be his name he hears ringing around St James' Park, but that of his predecessor.
It's a surreal scenario few new managers encounter, but such is the growing feeling of disenchantment among fans at the appointment of the 49-year-old, that an uncomfortably vociferous backing for Chris Hughton could be the least of his worries.
The worst-kept secret in the Premier League is set to be confirmed today, with Pardew set to be unveiled as the sixth manager of Mike Ashley's three-and-a-halfyear reign at Newcastle United. He will be given a five-and-a-half-year contract and is expected to name Fulham's Ray Lewington as his No 2.
Lewington was Roy Hodgson's assistant at Craven Cottage, but has seen his influence diminish since the arrival of Mark Hughes and was recently demoted to youth team coach.
Pardew will at first undertake a watching brief – reserve team coach Peter Beardsley will be in charge of the team against Liverpool – before the new man takes his first training session on Monday ahead of the trip to Birmingham City on Saturday week.
Rumblings of planned fan protests against Ashley to mirror those that met Kevin Keegan's sudden departure two years ago are gathering momentum in what could prove to be something of a tough introduction for Pardew, who can expect at best a tepid reception from the stands and, for that matter, a dressing room still loyal to Hughton.
“If they're going to fire someone as good as Chris, they have to then bring in a big name, someone who has won trophies,” said Jose Enrique, speaking before any appointment was made. The Spanish defender added: “If they just bring in someone similar, it's a joke.”
Pardew, who will earn a basic salary in the region of £750,000 a year in addition to performancerelated bonuses, will receive only a modest transfer kitty in January.
With Newcastle currently 12th, four points above the relegation zone, he is well aware that there is plenty of scope for the club to go backwards.
Certainly Pardew isn't as left field as Newcastle's appointment of Joe Kinnear following a four-year management hiatus in 2008, but his imminent arrival has been largely met with dismay, a view reflected by the influential
Newcastle fanzine nufc.com. “Hopes that the club had a viable plan to go forward seem to have evaporated,” it said yesterday. “Bewilderment among supporters has now rapidly given way to fury, with Pardew seen as bringing nothing to the club that Hughton lacked.” (© Independent News Service)