Those looking at the Online sportsbook regularly note how Alan Pardew didn’t get the warmest of receptions upon his arrival at St James’s Park on a cold winter morning in December.
Sports betting pundits note how the sacking of Chris Hughton, or rather the manner of the sacking of Chris Hughton seemed to epitomise all that was wrong with the club under Mike Ashley; a rudderless drifting sensation as the board bungled decision after decision. Pardew had one hell of a task on his hands.
“He will be facing the wrath of 52,000 fans at the weekend.” Said Steve Wraith, editor of Newcastle fanzine Toon Talk.
“It's not his fault but let's hope he can do what people don't expect him to do, as his CV doesn't make for good reading.
What direction has he taken the club since his arrival two and a half months ago? Although Wraith’s assertion that Pardew lacked a first class CV to make a success of his time with the club was correct on the surface, a closer inspection shows a lack of understanding of how Pardew came to be the boss at Newcastle.
His spell at Southampton defines his career so far. Struggling with a points deduction at financially crippled club, Pardew led the club up the table with a handicap like a lead weight around their neck. Finishing just outside the play-off’s despite being deducted ten points and taking the football league trophy was an excellent return in his time with the club, while signings such as Rickie Lambert showed a perceptive footballing brain.
Two days after beating Bristol Rovers 4-0 he was sacked, and the outrage shown by the Southampton faithful gave an indication of what they thought of their former manager.
But Newcastle have always been a club built upon glamour and a notion of only the best being good enough. That is no bad thing, the ambition of the Toon isn’t matched by many, but their want of a big name to lead the club blinded them to the reality of the situation they found themselves in.
Whatever the reasoning behind the sacking of fan favourite Hughton – the official explanation being that he had taken the club as far as he could – the club had nothing to lose by backing Pardew. Yet he still faced a wall of criticism upon his arrival.
Slowly but surely he has won over the St James’s faithful as he continues to endear himself. Performances, or results more accurately, haven’t been the best under Pardew but the manner he has conducted himself in the face of such a negative response has been outstanding.
The dignity he showed after losing Andy Carroll to Liverpool has endeared himself to the club, while the fight shown in the thrilling 4-4 draw against Arsenal has helped him become more accepted by supporters.
If there is two things Newcastle value, it is class and a fighting spirit; qualities that Pardew has.
Their first win in six games against Birmingham and a solid 9th position in the Premier League mean the club can begin to start planning for a push next season with Pardew at the helm. In under three months at the club, the man who fans turned their nose up at has become one of their own, and that in itself deserves plenty of credit.