“Alan Pardew, it’s six in a row” was the reminder from the 2,000 strong Toon Army on Monday night that he is very much a man under pressure.
Pardew’s time at Newcastle United has divided fans opinion more than any other manager in their history.
From 5th placed finishes to relegation scraps and mid table mediocrity, Pardew has always had his critics: negative tactics, excuse after excuse, not being able to handle big players and ‘Pardewing’ a number of players, amongst some of the criticisms thrown at the ex-Charlton and West Ham manager.
Despite these critics, he has always had a large number of supporters. Fans who believed under the circumstances, he was doing all any manager could do. Fans who liked his fight, and looked back with fondness to United’s Champions League qualification push two seasons back.
This support is diminishing by the day. A small minority has become a large majority. Bullish chants from the crowd calling for the manager’s head have become widespread. More and more banners slamming the Londoner have begun to appear.
Yet, there seems to be a common opinion that there is more chance of Newcastle winning the league than Pardew being shown the door by his ‘chum’ Mike Ashley.
Is this the case though? After all, Mike Ashley has shown previously business and pleasure are kept very much apart in his world. Derek Llambias, a long time friend of the Sports Direct tycoon, was given the chop just the previous summer in favor of Joe Kinnear.
Ashley’s ‘favorite player,’ Yohan Cabaye was sold in January to French giants PSG, while he has overseen a number of his managers come and go in his years at the club.
With an end of season meeting in place to discuss the clubs performance — as is usual with all of Ashley’s companies — Pardew will be pressed to explain recent performances. With Crystal Palace breathing down United’s necks in 11th place, a top 10 place is no longer the certainty it was just six games ago.
What mustn’t be forgotten is Mike Ashley is a businessman. If he feels his club’s Premier League status is in jeopardy, he will not hesitate to relieve his ‘pal’ from his duties.
With a reported transfer kitty available this summer to rebuild an ailing squad, the question is will he trust his under fire manager to spend and deliver the Premier League security he craves. With the vultures circling above St James’ Park, an interesting summer lies ahead either way.