ALAN PARDEW admitted that he was bruised by the orchestrated protest against him and the Newcastle United regime amid the victory against Cardiff City on Saturday – but promised that he and his side will improve next season.
A planned walk-out by supporters took place on the 60 and 69-minute mark of Saturday’s 3-0 win over the Bluebirds, a victory that relegated Cardiff to the Championship and ended Newcastle’s losing run, which had threatened to stretch into a seventh game before goals from Shola Ameobi, Loic Remy and Steven Taylor got a much-needed victory in the final home game of the campaign.
Before the walk-outs, there were several banners unfurled protesting against Pardew and owner Mike Ashley, while chants against the regime rang out for much of the first half.
Pardew accepted that the run of results before Saturday was a let-down for the supporters, and promised to face the problems within the club head-on in the summer.
“Over the last six games we’ve not been as competitive, anywhere near as competitive as we should be for this club,” said Pardew, who denied a training ground bust-up with Hatem Ben Arfa revealed in a tweet by former television presenter Richard Keys over the weekend.
“When you’ve been on a run like that, you could there was still a certain nervousness in our team.
“I said to the players ‘look, the most important thing was the staff at the stadium and the training ground, that we got the win for them’. We wanted to get that in the bag. Even more important than that, was our fans - we have let them down.
“You could sense it. It was only when the second goal went in that suddenly we started retaining the ball a little better and we looked comfortable to get a third goal. It made us very, very edgy and obviously the environment didn’t help.
“So I was really proud of the players. I can’t tell you now pleased I am that they responded to that challenge, because from a professional manager’s point of view, that was a tough game to play in.
Pardew was booed ferociously on the two occasions he strayed to the edge of his technical area – John Carver spent most of the game relaying Pardew’s advice to the players – and the manager accepted that large portions of the crowd turning against him is not one of his finest moments in management.
“I’m not saying it’s something I want or enjoy, because of course I don’t,” said Pardew. “I just feel the situation we have makes it very, very difficult for the media in today’s day and age. We’ve lost half the managers, we might lose three or four more, all I can do is focus on Liverpool and that’s what I’m going to do.
“I can’t say that I’m happy with the scenario. I’m pleased for our fans, I really am - the might not think that, but I’m genuinely pleased that we’ve won for them - I’m pleased for the players and I’m pleased for the principles that we’ve stood up for.
“I look at our season and it’s bizarre really. I see Southampton won again and we’ve won the same amount of games, but we haven’t secured enough points when we perhaps got beat and that’s a disappointment for me as manager, I have to say that.
"But there’s no doubt we were stronger in the first half of the season and we have to focus on that, what we did right and what we didn’t do right in the second half. That comes down to the club, to me, to my coaching staff and we’re going to try and put that right.
“As for the fans, we have to do our very best to try and win them round. I don’t know any other answer to that.”
It has almost been forgotten amongst the pressure cooker atmosphere over the last fortnight that Newcastle are likely to finish the season in the top half of the table. However, the run of results of late has brought into focus the need to replace Yohan Cabaye and to make some serious investment across all areas of the pitch if they wish to repeat their achievements next season.
That is something high on Pardew’s agenda.
“I have to take stock of Saturday a little bit, all round really as a club, I think we do and make sure … the fans are the most important people at this football club,” said Pardew.
“We’ve got ourselves in a position here when we’ve put so much pressure on ourselves and our fans are not happy about that. How best can we deal with doing it? There’s no problem sweeping it under the carpet and saying that everything is hunky-dory, we won on Saturday and it’s all good. We know there’s problems and I’m accepting that, we need to put it right. Probably the best way is to have the team that started this season.
“You can’t do this job unless you’ve got a strength and resolve and there’s certain principles that you need as a manager and you have to stand by those. And in the last four or five weeks I’ve had to stand by some of the principles that I accept on the pitch and at the training ground and I’ve put them in place and I’ll stand by them. That’s why, in the end, I got a result.”