With Alan Pardew on the verge of being confirmed as the new manager of Crystal Palace, Chief Sports Writer Scott Wilson looks back on his eventful four years in charge of Newcastle United

DURING his time as Newcastle United manager, Alan Pardew led his side into Europe and was named Manager of the Year, assembled the worst Tyne-Wear derby record of any manager in history while coming under sustained abuse from his own supporters, and received a seven-match suspension for head-butting an opposition player. Whatever else you might say about his four-year reign, it certainly wasn’t dull.

He took over a side in 12th position in the Premier League and will bequeath one in tenth once his move to Crystal Palace is finally confirmed. Rarely can so little change have been quite as chaotic.

For all that this week’s developments have been a huge surprise, they merely follow the pattern that was established by Pardew’s arrival in December 2010. Newcastle supporters didn’t like him then, just as the majority don’t have much affection for him now, and his appointment as Chris Hughton’s successor was hugely controversial thanks to his ‘Cockney mafia’ connections and lowly status as a manager whose previous job had been with Southampton in League One.

“I’ve had a lot of texts from other managers saying I must be mad coming here because of the tough agenda and history of the ownership with managers,” said Pardew during his introductory press conference. “But it’s a huge club and I’d suggest it’s one of the top five clubs in the country.” Four years on, and it would be interesting to know if his assessment remains unchanged.

The Northern Echo:

His reign needed to get off to a positive start, and a 3-1 debut win over Liverpool, courtesy of goals from Kevin Nolan, Joey Barton and Andy Carroll, would remain one of the highlights of his tenure. Carroll scored again on Boxing Day, in a 3-1 defeat to Manchester City, but the following month would see his departure provide Pardew with a painful introduction to the reality of life under Mike Ashley.

Having spent the whole of January bullishly insisting that Carroll would not be sold “at any price”, Pardew was forced into an embarrassing U-turn after Ashley accepted Liverpool’s deadline-day bid of £35m for the striker. Hindsight suggests Newcastle were right to sell when they did, but the episode fatally undermined Pardew’s authority within the St James’ Park hierarchy and cemented his image as ‘Ashley’s puppet’ in the eyes of many fans. From that point onwards, it was widely assumed that his public assurances meant little.

The following month featured arguably the most memorable match of Pardew’s reign – the remarkable 4-4 draw with Arsenal that saw Newcastle recover from four goals down to claim a point through a sensational stoppage-time goal from Cheick Tiote – and by the end of the season, the Magpies had finished 12th.

The Northern Echo:

With the money from the Carroll sale stashed in the coffers, Newcastle made six signings in the summer of 2011 and while Pardew’s input into them was limited thanks to the pivotal role played by chief scout Graham Carr, who at that stage was working closely with managing director Derek Llambias, the arrival of Yohan Cabaye in particular would play a crucial role in improving the fortunes of his team.

With Cabaye pulling the strings at the heart of midfield, and Demba Ba scoring regularly in attack, Newcastle were unbeaten in the opening 11 matches of the 2011-12 season, their best start in 17 years and a run that took them into the Champions League places. The sequence also featured a 1-0 win over Sunderland, a result that would come to have huge significance as it was Pardew’s only derby success in eight attempts.

A 3-0 win over Manchester United in January 2012 came courtesy of a standout display, and by the end of the month, Pardew was proudly presiding over the unveiling of Papiss Cisse, a £9m signing from German club Freiburg.

The next four months would represent the high point of Pardew’s reign, with Cisse’s blistering start to his Newcastle career – the striker scored 13 goals in his first 11 league matches – firing the club to fifth position and a place in the Europa League. Named Premier League Manager of the Season and LMA Manager of the Year, Pardew’s stock would never be as high again.

Faced with a host of extra European games, Newcastle desperately needed to strengthen in the summer of 2012, but Pardew’s lack of boardroom influence meant he was unable to prevent a spell of transfer stasis. Vurnon Anita was the only senior player to arrive, and while Pardew toed the party line and maintained his squad was strong enough to cope, results proved otherwise.

The Magpies might have progressed to the quarter-finals in Europe, but their domestic form nosedived to the extent that they ended the year in 15th position following a humiliating 7-3 trouncing at Arsenal.

By that stage, a sizeable section of supporters had begun to turn against Pardew, disillusioned with what was perceived to be negative tactics, a failure to play players in their best position and a struggle to mould a team out of the youngsters he was forced to turn to when some of his senior players became unavailable.

Ashley’s response to the discontent was to furnish Pardew with a new eight-year contract, a staggering move that might have reassured the manager, but which merely accentuated the notion of the unpopular owner and increasingly unpopular manager being in cahoots. With their manager all but unsackable, Newcastle supporters had to resign themselves to being stuck with their lot.

The Northern Echo:

January 2013 saw Ashley hit the panic button and sign five senior players – all from France – and with Moussa Sissoko and Mathieu Debuchy influential from the off, Newcastle eventually clambered to safety in 16th position.

It was a far from glorious survival, with the second half of the season containing three results that said much about the second half of Pardew’s reign. An FA Cup third-round defeat to Championship Brighton followed a grimly familiar pattern, and paved the way for a public admission from the St James’ Park hierarchy that the cups were “not a priority”, something Pardew was seemingly perfectly happy to accept.

A 3-0 home defeat to a Paolo Di Canio-inspired Sunderland marked the beginning of the end in terms of many supporters’ attitudes towards Pardew, before a 6-0 home defeat to Liverpool set the template for a pattern of complete implosion in a large number of subsequent games in which Newcastle fell behind.

By the start of the 2013-14 season, the prevailing mood on Tyneside had turned somewhat sour, and while a reasonable first half to the campaign kept frustrations under control, the January sale of Yohan Cabaye – something Pardew admittedly had no control over – sparked a furious response.

Newcastle’s form nosedived in the second half of last season, with the club losing 15 of their final 21 matches, and Pardew was widely identified as the man to blame. The breakdown of his relationship with Hatem Ben Arfa became something of a cause celebre amongst the St James’ Park faithful, while results such as the 4-0 defeats to Tottenham and Southampton persuaded many supporters that their manager had lost the ability to organise and inspire his team.

Those matches followed hot on the heels of the most unbelievable moment of Pardew’s reign, when a touchline altercation at Hull’s KC Stadium ended in him head-butting opposition midfielder David Meyler.

The Northern Echo:

It was an unforgivably boorish act which resulted in a heavy penalty from the Football Association, and while Ashley resisted calls for him to sack Pardew immediately, it was a further stain on Newcastle’s reputation that could easily have been avoided. It also provided an insight into the ‘real Alan Pardew’. Strip away the veneer that the 53-year-old has established around himself, and the hot-headed former glazier from South London still remains.

By the start of the current season, Pardew’s position felt all but untenable. The ‘Sack Pardew’ campaign instigated by a supporters’ website had grown in terms of organisation and support, and the manager’s presence at matches, particularly away from St James’ Park, was met with abusive banners and chanting.

September’s 4-0 defeat at Southampton might well have been a fatal blow, but Ashley opted to stand by his manager and his faith was rewarded by a six-game winning run that took Newcastle into the top five and saw Pardew named Manager of the Month.

Things lapsed again this month, with Newcastle losing another Tyne-Wear derby as they lost four on the spin before Sunday’s 3-2 win over Everton, but it was Neil Warnock’s sudden departure from Crystal Palace that proved the catalyst for the end of Pardew’s reign.

The Northern Echo:

Suddenly, there was an opening at a club that has always remained close to Pardew’s heart, and after receiving indications that any investment in January would be piecemeal at best, the Londoner found the lure of home impossible to resist.

How will his time at Newcastle be regarded? In the eyes of some supporters he has been a complete failure, squandering the opportunity to achieve meaningful success with a group of talented players who would be the envy of any club outside of the established big four or five. To others, he did the best he possibly could in a working environment that makes it all but impossible to match the ambitions of those in the stands.

The truth is probably somewhere in between. He undoubtedly had his failings, and too many of his sides were lacking in inspiration and organisation. By the end, his relationship with the fans had become fractured beyond the point of repair.

But taking Newcastle into Europe under the current regime is a considerable achievement, and if a mid-table finish is the extent of the board’s ambition then Pardew achieved it more often than not. He leaves the club in pretty much the same position he found it, and while that hardly smacks of success, it is an achievement of sorts given everything he has had to contend with during his four-year reign.