It has been a remarkable transformation by anyone's standards. But with Newcastle United aiming to make it five successive Premier League wins when they travel to Swansea, manager Alan Pardew has admitted the memory of Sir Bobby Robson's achievements on Tyneside have been his inspiration in the darkest hours.
Having guided Newcastle to an unexpected fifth-placed finish in the 2011-12 season, Pardew found himself immersed in a relegation battle just months later as the demands of European football took a heavy toll on the team's domestic form.
Attention was briefly deflected away from him by Joe Kinnear's controversial appointment as director of football. But after minimal summer recruitment, a significant proportion of the club's support was less than happy with the 52-year-old Pardew's continued presence at St James' Park.
A thumping 4-0 defeat at Manchester City, a first-half capitulation at Everton and a derby defeat to Sunderland did little to silence his critics. Yet having since seen his Loïc Rémy-inspired side climb to sixth in the Premier League table on the back of victories over Chelsea, Tottenham, Norwich and West Bromwich Albion, Pardew is relishing his side's new-found confidence.
"You have to prove yourself as a manager at any club, but particularly at a big club, that you can handle the tough times," he said. "I did that at West Ham and got a lot of respect from West Ham fans, more for that, probably, than some of the great victories and getting to the Cup final and the promotion we got.
"Maybe it will be the same here. Maybe in the future, people will look back on that year and say, 'Well, he still handled it with a bit of dignity and respect', which I tried to do. Bobby Robson brought that to this job, and for me, that's the beacon for me to make sure I uphold those traditions."Reuse content