ALAN PARDEW has conceded he no longer feels safe in his position – but
Banners reading “No more lies or excuses – Pardew out” and “Pardew is a Muppet” were unveiled before kick-off, and chants of “We want Pardew out” grew in volume throughout the game, culminating in a lengthy rendition at the final whistle.
The abuse felt like a watershed moment, and followed the publication of an internet poll last week that revealed that 86 per cent of respondents wanted Pardew removed from his position.
However, The Northern Echo understands that there are no plans to sack the 52-year-old, who remains on track to deliver his stated pre-season target of achieving a finishing position in the top half of the table.
Last week's restructuring of Newcastle's backroom team, which saw Lee Charnley promoted to the position of managing director and Ashley formally appointed to the board, has been interpreted as a tacit show of support for Pardew's position.
The former Charlton and West Ham boss has been heavily involved in transfer discussions with Charnley, Ashley and chief scout, Graham Carr, and was prominently referenced in the 'mission statement' that accompanied confirmation of the reshuffle.
Had Ashley been minded to remove him from his role, the axe would almost certainly have fallen in the wake of last month's head-butting incident involving Hull City midfielder David Meyler, as that would have enabled Newcastle officials to cite misconduct and potentially avoid the payment of any compensation.
The fact the club backed Pardew then, albeit with the imposition of a heavy fine, strongly suggests they will not be removing him from his role no matter happens in the final four matches. At boardroom level, there is also understood to be an acceptance that the club's efforts in the second half of the season have been compromised by the failure to recruit a replacement for Yohan Cabaye in the January transfer window.
Nevertheless, with discontent brewing and more and more supporters turning against him, the Magpies manager accepts he cannot take his job security for granted.
“I don't feel safe,” said Pardew, in a terse post-match press conference. “I never feel safe as a Premier League manager. We live sort of five or six games as we go, in terms of the pressure building from the media.”
When asked if he understood the frustration of the fans, he added: “Yeah, well to add to it really, if you lose in the manner in which we lost (it's going to happen), but you also have to look at the quality of the opposition.
“We've had four really tough games, and unfortunately they have all resulted in defeats and no goals. That is a tough spell to have as Newcastle manager.
“The frustration, I understand. I can only do the best job I can with the group, and I'm honestly trying to do that. I can only respond by trying to get the team in the best possible place for a result.”
Pardew accused sections of the “local media” of contributing to the mounting sense of crisis, with yesterday's coverage in the Sunday press underlining the folly of his comments.
Newcastle's supporters have made their minds up on their own, no doubt referencing the dreadful recent run that has seen the Magpies fail to score in 12 of their last 16 Premier League matches.
Saturday's home game with Swansea City will provide another opportunity for the fans to voice their discontent, and it will be interesting to gauge the prevailing mood among the entirety of Newcastle's home support rather than the travelling hardcore at the Britannia Stadium.
Pardew clearly needs a positive result to quell the fury, and is hoping the anticipated return of Loic Remy will help to provide the kind of cutting edge that has been absent in recent games.
“We will hope, and see how he is in training this week,” he said. “Hopefully, we will get a performance out of him that I think the team needs, particularly in terms of our confidence.
“To have someone like that spearheading the team, performing as he did before he went out, is important for us.”