Another weekend and another impressive Newcastle United performance has got everybody taking notice of the wonderful work of manager Alan Pardew.
Despite being an unpopular choice ten months ago the 50-year-old has transformed the Magpies’ from relegation candidates to the league’s surprise package, sitting unbeaten in fourth place.
And it seems he is becoming a cult hero and be the man to finally bring an end to the St James’ soap opera.
Pardew’s honest and determined personality and style of play has seen him experience the highs and lows that come with football management and is only now being given the opportunity to showcase his unquestionable talent.
After an impressive spell at Reading he looked set to make his name at West Ham, steering the back into the Premier League before guiding them to ninth place and an unlikely place in the FA Cup final, where they were just moments away from an incredible victory over Liverpool.
But after his exploits of the previous term, months later he was sent packing by the clubs new Icelandic owners.
Since then he has struggled to recreate that success at his other teams, taking over at an already doomed Charlton Athletic in 2006 before struggling at Southampton due to the constant off-field battles with Nicola Cortese despite winning their first trophy since 1976.
But after the shock sacking of Chris Hughton last December, he seems to have found a new home in the North East, despite initial displeasure from fans.
In a Sky Sports poll asking fans who they wanted to get the job, Pardew only received 5.5% of the vote, and with fellow managers wondering why he had taken the job, the poisoned chalice looked set to claim the managerial career of another victim.
To make matters worse, the January transfer window saw top scorer and hometown hero Andy Carroll head for Anfield on deadline day with no time to get a replacement.
But just six days later his half-time team talk inspired the greatest comeback in Premier League history, coming from 4-0 down to snatch an incredible 4-4 draw against a title-chasing Arsenal side and in doing so saw the fans begin to back him.
After finishing the season 12th, the Toon Army were positive for the season ahead, but while Pardew was busy securing the permanent signature of Ben Arfa and snapping up Cabaye, Marveaux and Demba Ba, the exit door was just as busy as captain Kevin Nolan departed only to be followed by Jose Enrique and Joey Barton, whose Twitter outburst about Mike Ashley and Derek Llambias brought a turbulent relationship to an end.
But with fans and pundits expecting a tough season for the Magpies’, they’ve kicked off with four wins and four draws, including a vital derby win over Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.
His skill in the transfer market is also shining through, snapping up Italian international Davide Santon and signing Gabriel Obertan, who is finally starting to show why he was signed by Manchester United.
It’s unlikely that the team will finish the season in fourth but it’s a good time for the Toon Army and Pardew, who must fancy themselves as an outside bet for a trophy if this form continues.
Written by Joshua Robbins