Early Doors

Geordie Pariah

Early Doors

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It is surely the most universally unpopular appointment since Bolton hired Gary Megson.

Journalists are baffled, Newcastle fans are livid and the players will certainly take some winning over after Alan Pardew was unveiled as the new manager at St James' Park.

More used to hailing the arrival of their latest Geordie Messiah, the former West Ham, Charlton and Southampton boss has his work cut out if he is to avoid becoming a pariah on Tyneside.

The appointment concluded a bizarre week for the Toon Army which began with Chris Hughton being fired in order to bring in someone with "more managerial experience".

Well, they have certainly got that with Pardew, who has experience of little except mediocrity in the top flight. Apart from taking West Ham to an FA Cup final, his most successful spells have been in the third tier.

One of the most perplexing things about the appointment - aside from a history of relegation, internal and touchline bust-ups and using very poorly-chosen words in his punditry - is the length of the contract awarded him by Magpies owner Mike Ashley.

Five-and-a-half years. Expiry date: June 2016. That will be almost a year of the deal for each day between Hughton's sacking and Pardew's first post-match interview following the game against Liverpool tomorrow.

That length of time is almost as long as World War II lasted. We'll be gearing up for the Rio Olympics by the time this deal is due to expire. For a man who is now overseeing his seventh manager in less than three years as owner of Newcastle, that's a mighty big call from Ashley.

The Taiwanese cotton industry might be readying itself for a major boost if the expected spate of anatomically-correct effigies of Ashley materialises, but we were all denied (spared?) a rare glimpse of the man in the flesh when Pardew was sent out to face the media on his own yesterday.

If there is one thing Pardew is not short on, however, it is self-confidence. Perhaps this is as it should be for a man whose surname is derived from the old French motto meaning 'by God' or 'in God's name', a phrase no doubt uttered all over Tyneside this week.

Much like erstwhile Toon coach Iain Dowie, Pardew is a man who believes strongly in the power of positive mental attitude, and he will need to go through his whole library of maxims, slogans and self-help techniques if he is to weather the storm from the Gallowgate End.   

Striding out to face the press pack yesterday, Pardew was forthright and honest about the conditions of the job he has walked into. Perhaps a little too honest.

He said: "I've had a lot of texts from managers saying: 'You must be mad going in there'," - way to instil confidence there, Al - "but it's a massive club, one of the top five in the country, I'd suggest. I'd never be able to live with myself if I didn't take that on."

Amid playing questions about Hughton's sacking, the length of his contract and the difficulty of winning over his new charges with an admirably straight bat, Pardew threw out a couple of early crowd-pleasing freebies, such as "I've made it clear (Andy Carroll) needs to stay" and "I'll be knocking on the door trying to get the maximum funds I can to make the club the best it can be".

Pardew may find he is knee-deep in it before he gets the chance to spend any funds that may come his way, though.

Following on from the run of five games without a win that did for Hughton, Newcastle will face trips to Birmingham and Spurs and welcome Manchester City to St James' Park before the year is out, in addition to Saturday's Liverpool clash.

Never mind five-and-a-half years; if Pardew can ride through that rough set of fixtures and be thick-skinned enough to deflect the ill will projected on to him from his own club's fans, then he has a chance of making it through the five-and-a-months until the end of the season.

- - -

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "For me, Arsenal is a football training centre. You watch the match, you enjoy it, but are you going to win a title afterwards? That's what people remember. It has been five years since they won anything and for a big club like Arsenal, that is a crisis." - Manchester United Patrice Evra sticks the knife into the Gunners on French television ahead of Monday's clash at Old Trafford.

FOREIGN VIEW: "We would be very happy if we got Mr Eriksson. He has a lot of experience. We will decide after the Asian Championships who the new coach will be. If we choose a foreigner I will be in charge of the recruitment. We have not met Mr Eriksson yet. There are too many newspapers in Iran, and they like to make things up. One thing is for certain: the job will not be offered to Diego Armando Maradona despite rumours that say otherwise." - Abbas Torabian, head of recruitment for the Iranian FA, shows he is mad, but not crazy.

COMING UP: Stick around for team news, video previews and match facts for each of the weekend's Premier League ding-dongs. Jim White and Paul Parker will be filing their latest blogs and The Fantasist will be here at 15:00 for the weekly webchat about all things Yahoo! Fantasy Football.

Later on, we'll be bringing you live coverage of the evening's two Championship clashes - QPR v Watford and Swansea City v Millwall.

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