Legend Tommy urges boss Pards to become a 'Toon god'.
TOMMY CASSIDY took a while to warm to Alan Pardew. Now he's challenging the Newcastle boss to become a Toon "god".
Like many, the former United midfielder - now managing Blyth Spartans - predicted a season of struggle at St James'.
But Pardew led the Magpies to fifth place in the Premier League, and a place in next season's Europa League.
As such, Cassidy has become a fan of the "deserved" Barclays and LMA Manager of the Year, and cannot praise him enough.
But, the Irishman adds, the hard work starts here. Yet he believes that a bigger and better Newcastle squad can make further progress next season. "I wasn't a big fan of Alan Pardew's," Cassidy said. "I remember doing some media work over in Cumbria, when I was managing Workington.
"They asked me to commentate on a Carlisle United game, against Southampton, and it was obvious the Southampton fans didn't like him.
"So that was my first impression of him.
"I'd not met him when he got the Newcastle job but when he came, I just thought it was another member of the 'Cockney Mafia'.
"I wasn't a Mike Ashley fan either, but you can hardly complain now. I can't give him and Pardew enough praise.
"At the start of the season I thought if they get a couple of bad results they could be a bottom-eight club.
"Looking at the other clubs, the foreign owners, the money being spent, I did fear for them. I thought mid-table at best.
"But Pardew's done an unbelievable job. To finish fifth, the way the Premier League is now, above the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool, is incredible.
"He thoroughly deserves his Manager of the Year awards. I've been to three or four games this season and been amazed. He's got a team there, not just three or four superstars - 11 players working together.
"But the big task starts now, this is when he'll be judged. Fans will expect more and that increases the pressure on him.
"I was flabbergasted with what they managed to do this season but if they can kick on to the top six again it'll be an amazing achievement.
"But he has to keep hold of his top stars, or as many of them as he can. They can't afford to lose too many because the squad's not that big."
Cassidy added: "The Premier League is the most important thing and Europe could be a bit of a distraction, it could just take his mind off the main event.
"It would be different if they were in the Champions League, that's where the real money is.
"But there is a danger in putting too much focus on the Europa League. With so many games and them being on a Thursday, it can really affect your league form. But they can do well in that competition.
"If they'd won a trophy five years ago the Europa League wouldn't matter so much, but the next manager at Newcastle to win a trophy will be a god."