Alan Pardew believes that his difficult four-year tenure at Newcastle United, which ended last week, helped to strengthen his spirit and resolve. Speaking at length for the first time since leaving St James’ Park for a very different life at Crystal Palace, Pardew shed some light on the pressures of his old job and the reasons he left it.
“It was difficult to leave, as Newcastle is a big club,” Pardew said at Selhurst Park. “It is a club run on fairly tight finance margins. Our net spend was one of the lowest. For a club that size, it makes it difficult for the fans to understand that you need to build slowly.”
Despite finishing fifth in the Premier League in 2011-12, these financial restrictions hit the team and Pardew was very unpopular with a lot of home fans for most of 2014. Pardew attempted to play down the extent of his unpopularity and insisted the weight of scrutiny was the making of him.
“Of course when you lose games there will be criticism from the stands,” Pardew said. “Never once did I sense it outside the ground. I had tremendous support in my time there, and I want to thank all the Geordies for their help, and for [owner] Mike [Ashley] and everyone who helped me to grow as a manager. You cannot help but grow. My resilience and character has grown as a result of the nature of the club.”
There are special pressures that come with managing Newcastle but Pardew, who lasted longer there than any manager since Sir Bobby Robson, feels strengthened. “You have to show a depth of character there, show resilience,” he said, “and I like to think I proved that. It’s serious business at Newcastle. Every day is important to the fans. You have to deliver, and the pressure of that I got used to.”
Pardew has inherited a very different challenge at Palace and he accepted that his target, with 18 league games left this season, was 17th place. Palace are currently 18th, with 17 points from 20 games. “One place above relegation will be enough to build the club again with finance that comes with it,” Pardew said. “We have a tough challenge. We have 18 games to go, and our home form is not good. We need to make sure that we turn our home form into a positive.”