Pardew: My first job here is to win over the players – then the fans

The joke doing the rounds on Tyneside is that of the underwhelming 14 votes that Alan Pardew attracted out of more than 1,000 cast in a local newspaper poll to assess the fans' feelings about the next Newcastle United manager, two came from Mike Ashley and Derek Llambias, his right-hand man. The other 12 votes were from Sunderland supporters.

Gallows humour on the Gallowgate. For those of a black-and-white ilk, it's become a necessary default defence mechanism against the tale of the unexpected that has been Ashley's three-and-a-half-year reign. Pardew yesterday became the sixth manager of that turbulent spell, less than 72 hours after the departure of Chris Hughton. Indecent haste or decisive action? It depends on your standpoint, but the majority of those passing judgement see it as merely swapping like for like – and hardly worth the upheaval at that.

Having spent the night at one of the North-East's plushest bolt-holes, Slaley Hall Hotel, Pardew can expect a distinctly less comfortable ride from now on in his attempts to convince the numerous doubters that his appointment is more than simply jobs for the boys, courtesy of a friendship with Newcastle's managing director and owner allegedly cemented in a casino. Insert your own gags about gambling with the club's future.

"I'd be lying if I said I didn't have some hesitation when I was travelling up," Pardew said after agreeing a five-and-a-half-year contract worth an annual £750,000, believed to include incentive-based bonus payments but only a modest signing-on fee and potential severance package. He added: "I've had texts from managers telling me I must be mad. I know I'm not going to win the PR battle. The battles I need to win are out on the pitch. The job is a daunting prospect, but the chance to be manager was something I couldn't turn down.

"I've got a good record in the Premier League and I've got a lot of experience I hope to bring to the club. I'm not going to compare myself to Chris. I'm a competent manager and my message is that I didn't determine what happened to him. I'm the new guy."

Pardew is in little doubt where his first port of call lies as he aims to win over a dressing room loyal to Hughton, whose name he managed to mispronounce in an otherwise workmanlike press conference performance. "The problem I'm going to have initially is with the players and making sure I get my message across about them carrying any resentment towards me," he said.

"It's difficult taking over when the players and fans have great respect for Chris, and the fact he's gone has caused a stir. People are unhappy and I can understand that, so I need to talk to players and get my message across."

Rather than hearing his name ring round St James' Park for tomorrow's visit by Liverpool, it will be that of his predecessor on the lips of supporters keen to pay tribute to the man who helped resurrect the club's fortunes during 14 months in charge. It could make for an uncomfortable early evening, but in a proactive step Pardew shunned the opportunity to watch from the stands and will instead head straight to the dugout, where he will have back-up from two coaches in Steve Stone and Peter Beardsley, the latter against his former employers. Liverpool surely can't believe their luck at Ashley's apparent willingness to throw his club into a turmoil that temporarily at least draws attention from the travails on Merseyside.

The rancour even extended 12,000 miles to the Antipodes, where the England bowler and Newcastle fan Graeme Swann belatedly dedicated his match-winning exploits in the second Ashes Test to Hughton. Via his Twitter account, the spinner summed up the fans' mood. "Alan Pardew may be about as popular an appointment as Margaret Thatcher as president of the coal miners' association," he said.

Clearly Pardew will have to dig in to win over those asking how a man sacked four months ago by Southampton, then 14th in League One, and whose last taste of the Premier League ended in relegation in 2007, can walk into a job that is, for all its drawbacks, one of the most high-profile in football.

"The criticism isn't something I want and I certainly hope it doesn't last too long," Pardew added. Adopting his best diplomatic stance, he added: "If there is a protest for Chris in terms of a nice protest and fans want to show him their support then I don't have a problem with that. That's their right. I hope anything like that is over with quickly and they channel their efforts into supporting the team."

The majority of Pardew's 500 games in a management career spanning more than 11 years have been outside the top flight, and so fast-moving is the Premier League that even in the relatively short spell he has been away, it is a vastly different beast to the one he exited with Charlton Athletic.

Hughton worked on a modest transfer budget, as Pardew is also likely to have to do, unless perhaps Ashley gets lucky on his next visit to a casino. Having been given assurances there are no plans to cash in on Andy Carroll next month, the new manager added: "It's important for the fans to know that I'll be strong enough to knock on the owner's door. It's important to be able to deal with upstairs, and that's something I guarantee I'll do."

Forget doors, it's bridges he must build, and Pardew can only start to do that out on the pitch.

Areas Pardew must tackle

Dressing room It's not quite the open revolt claimed by some, but Pardew will find a squad loyal to Chris Hughton.

Senior players Relationships with such as Kevin Nolan and Steve Harper are key to Pardew's success.

Supporters Pardew began with praise for fans – he has to get them onside now as otherwise they can make life unbearable. Just ask Sam Allardyce

Media Allardyce described most of the North-East's press as a miserable lot – maybe it's having to watch Newcastle all these years. Either way, a few allies in the right places to cut him some slack if it doesn't go to plan would be a huge assistance.

New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all