Alan Pardew faces a daunting battle for hearts and minds on Tyneside if, as appears virtually certain, he is unveiled as Newcastle United’s latest manager tomorrow.
With the club’s players still deeply disappointed by the sacking of Chris Hughton and fans underwhelmed, to put it mildly, at the prospect of Pardew’s arrival the challenge ahead looks sizeable. Fewer than 2% of those polled by the Newcastle Evening Chronicle today wanted the former Reading, West Ham, Charlton Athletic and Southampton manager to succeed Hughton.
Pardew spent the early part of this week in Germany on a coaching course but was in the north-east tonight, finalising the small print of a highly incentivised long-term contract. Newcastle are scheduled to confirm his appointment tomorrow morning after which the club’s sixth manager in just under three years will tour St James’ Park and meet his new players and staff.
It is likely that he will be presented to the media during the afternoon but, with Hughton’s successor anxious to begin working with his squad ahead of the home game against Liverpool on Saturday evening, Pardew’s formal introduction could be postponed until Friday. Aware he is beginning very much on the back foot the new man knows he could do with a few swift, perception-altering victories and will not delay making his presence felt at the training ground.
Winning over cynical players, supporters and reporters is a clear priority for a manager expected to bring in Ray Lewington, Fulham’s academy technical director, as his assistant but who may also promote Peter Beardsley from his role in charge of the reserves to bolster the Premier League’s smallest backroom staff. Mike Ashley, Newcastle’s owner, had initially intended that Beardsley would be the club’s No2.
Pardew is no stranger to Ashley or Newcastle’s managing director, Derek Llambias, having developed friendly relationships with both men during visits to the London casino Llambias ran before arriving at St James’. Such personal history may not impress those supporters who ensured Martin O’Neill – never a candidate for the job – topped the Evening Chronicle poll with 42% of the vote. Martin Jol, who ruled himself out due to his close bond with Hughton, commanded 33% and Alan Shearer, who has not spoken to Ashley for 18 months, came third with 8%.