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Pardew admits there were times when he feared for his position
AFTER a week that has seen seven managers in the Premier League and Football League lose their post, Alan Pardew takes his Newcastle United side to Swansea City tonight admitting there have been times during his tenure when he too feared the sack.
With four successive victories having lifted the Magpies to sixth position, Pardew heads to the Liberty Stadium as one of the few top-flight managers in a position of some security.
However, it has not always been like that, and for the first time, the Newcastle manager has conceded there have been moments when he feared receiving a call from his club's owner, Mike Ashley.
Last April's defeats to Sunderland and Liverpool set the alarm bells ringing, and Pardew admits he shudders to imagine what might have happened had his side not won at QPR on the penultimate weekend of the season to secure their Premier League status.
“I remember there have been a few games in my career where I felt my job was on the line,” said the Newcastle boss. “But I managed to get a win and keep it.
“I didn’t think Everton was one of those days (when Newcastle were trailing 3-0 at half-time in September), but I can remember at Reading going to Notts County and thinking my job was definitely on the line. We won 4-3 that day, and there were a couple of times at West Ham in the Championship.
“Here, I think the Liverpool and Sunderland games in April were a tricky time for me, and the QPR game at the end of last season was important as well. But I don’t hide from that.”
Remarkably, Pardew is now the second longest-serving manager in the Premier League, with only Arsene Wenger having been in situ for a longer period.
In part, that reflects the perilous nature of a manager's position, with Paolo Di Canio, Ian Holloway and Martin Jol already having left their jobs in the top-flight this season.
It also reflects Pardew's level of success as he approaches his third anniversary as Newcastle boss on Friday, though, and while there have inevitably been low points along the way, the club's general trajectory under his tenure has tended to be in an upward direction.
“I think this is probably my third team since I have been here,” he said. “There was the team I inherited - the Andy Carroll, Kevin Nolan and Joey Barton team. Then there was the team that finished fifth. Then last year, we had the transition to this team.
“That’s what you’ve got to do, you have got to move forward and change the team. How many did Fergie (Sir Alex Ferguson) have? Five, six? Probably many more than that, and Wenger is the same.
“There is a freshness about you when you change the team, and there is a freshness about this team at the moment. That gives me a boost.”
Nevertheless, the frantic pace of criticism is such that a couple of negative results could yet see the pressure piled back on Pardew's shoulders despite last month's superb winning run.
With the growth of social media showing no signs of stopping, and the range of media outlets providing a vehicle for negative comment currently wider than ever, it does not take long for a bandwagon to gather pace.
Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas was the latest manager to come under fire at the weekend, and while his spat with a Daily Mail reporter had clearly been brewing for quite a while, it underlined the pressure-cooker environment in which a Premier League manager is forced to operate.
“I am sure Richard Bevan (the head of the League Managers' Association) will again throw out the stats of what the average tenure is, but I think it gets ignored a little bit,” said Pardew. “When you look at it, longevity and continuity do actually work.
“It is just about being able to get past those difficult games and dealing with the social media we have got at the moment, which brings instant reactions to a series of defeats. Or even a single defeat in AVB’s case.”
If Newcastle avoid defeat this evening, they will have lost just one of their last eight league games, a hugely creditable run given the strength of some of the sides they have faced during that period.
There are unlikely to be any changes to the side that beat West Brom at the weekend, with Pardew again expected to prefer Shola Ameobi and Yoan Gouffran to Papiss Cisse and Hatem Ben Arfa, who are expected to start on the bench.
Swansea are set to be without Wilfried Bony and Michu, but Michael Laudrup could recall fit-again goalkeeper Michel Vorm ahead of Gerhard Tremmel.
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