There is no denying that Alan Pardew faced an extremely difficult and unenviable position when he was installed as Chris Hughton’s successor as manager at St James’s Park. The hugely popular Hughton had had a tremendous spell in charge of the magpies, achieving promotion back to the Premiership as champions at the first time of asking and leaving the club 11th in the Premier League whilst picking up a 5-1 derby victory over Sunderland. Managers questioned Pardew’s decision to take the job and walk in to such a volatile situation with many fans beyond angry over Hughton’s dismissal.
Yet a positive start to his reign has ensured that fans anger has, if not been quelled then at least remained focused on Mike Ashley and the club’s ownership rather than being passed directly on to him due to association. It is exactly the kind of results, such as his first in charge where Newcastle saw off Liverpool 3-1, that Pardew has to maintain to win over the fans as opposed to attempts at populist appeasement like the recent appointment of John Carver as assistant Manager.
John Carver may indeed be a popular figure with the Tyneside faithful having been No2 to Bobby Robson during his spell at the club. Yet Newcastle must be aware, more than any other club right now that the popular choice at the time is not always the right choice for the club. And this popularity of someone you’ve brought in to work with the club will not necessarily rub off on you. Under Mike Ashley Newcastle have brought back two of their most popular sons to be manager. Both Alan Shearer and Kevin Keegan have spent time in the dugout during Ashley’s ownership and neither was able to turn around the fortunes of the club and neither appointment greatly increased the popularity of Ashley amongst the fans. Pardew must not think like Ashley, that just associating himself with former Newcastle greats and getting them involved with the club will win over the fans to his side.
No, the only way for Pardew to truly win over the fans is on the pitch. If he can continue his decent start to tenure then he will please the fans, and therefore be more popular with them, than hiring a popular character as his no2. It is almost redundant, in terms of personnel, who makes up Pardew’s backroom staff as long as they assist him in taking Newcastle forward. As he will be judged by the fans on results, not the team he has assembled and how loved or not they are by the club.