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Cool when he's cornered - the Pardew way; The voice of North East sport.


N Wall Street, they call it the 'dead cat bounce'.

OEven when a flatlining stock is finished, it tends to briefly rally. Stockbrokers have learned to ignore this. It is not a sign of long-term health: after all, even a dead cat bounces if thrown from a height that's high enough.

Is that what we might be about to see at St James' Park? Or is the character of the last couple of games a portent for something more promising as the long nights draw in? Now the dust has settled, might we have missed something here? Is the pressure, the sack speculation and the talk of protests actually exactly what Pardew needed - and wanted? The dominant narrative of the last fortnight - indeed the mission statement of the Sack Pardew group - is that pressure exerted on the manager will force him out. Played out in the way his harshest critics intended, it was an attempt to make his job impossible and intolerable.

It appears to miss the point about a manager who seems most comfortable when cornered. As you'd expect from someone who scrapped his way from non-league to Wembley, Pardew is a fighter.

Scrapping for his reputation seems to have channelled minds and focused coaching energies in the past - and it might well do again this time. A couple of years ago I interviewed Steve Stone just after he'd started working under Pardew and asked him what he had learned from the manager.

"When there's some kind of crisis or something going on, he just takes it on his shoulders and says: 'I'll handle it'. I might be getting worked up about it but he's not. He's cool under pressure," the Newcastle coach had said.

He gave Pardew's reaction to the Andy Carroll sale as an example of that. While the city festered at the broken promises and sale of the club's best player with no replacement, Pardew's survival instincts kicked in. It was an interesting insight.

He's had plenty of opportunities since to hone his crisis management skills and funnily enough, he never looked happier than when projecting a more statesmanlike image in the wake of the disastrous appointment of Joe Kinnear. Had he really been undermined by the director of football? At first glance it might have looked like Pardew's job had become impossible but in actual fact, it was the best thing that could have happened to him after a season where he made multiple mistakes.

He didn't really deserve it, but he collected sympathy and Newcastle were within touching distance of the top four at Christmas. They dropped like a stone soon afterwards. Don't doubt that with his back up against a wall, Pardew will tend to bounce back. It is a narrative he enjoys.

So if Pardew is so handy in a metaphorical fight, why aren't Newcastle doing better? Well the problem with this manager is not that he's not effective in fighting fires: it's the bigger picture stuff. He's not yet shown an ability to grow the club in any meaningful or sustained way.

Fighting fires doesn't carve out a football philosophy and after all this time, could anyone in Newcastle tell you what type of football United play? What is a Pardew team? At Southampton it took Mauricio Pocchetino about four months to stamp his mark and turn the club into a fluent, footballing side - something that Ronald Koeman continues to reap the benefits from. United's manager has had four years but I'm none the wiser as to what his vision is.

While others in the Premier League innovate, Newcastle have gone backwards on Pardew's watch - on and off the pitch. On Saturday Pardew said the top five had now "gone". Two years ago they finished fifth. Why could they not capitalise? Too many miscalculations on and off-the-field have made that seem like a minor miracle.

At West Ham the accusation was that he got carried away by success and there's no doubt that his demeanour changes when things are going well.

On Wednesday we were back at Selhurst Park, where Pardew once replied to the congratulations of a colleague of mine (also banned) by saying: "You'll be getting used to saying that this season." It was December 2013 and United had beaten Palace 3-0. They've only won six of the 26 Premier League games since.

There's no doubt a worrying complacency crept into the team in the season that followed the fifth-placed finish - and Kinnear's appointment was a clear attempt by Ashley to remedy that. Take a close look at his CV. What conclusions do you draw from Pardew's management career? Newcastle might well have turned a corner this season. They were never as bad as the 4-0 at Southampton suggested which - ironically - was the reason why Pardew was questioned so vociferously. A team of internationals shouldn't be bottom of the league.

It's missing a striker and a centreback but this is not a bad squad and most managers could steer it away from the bottom of the Premier League.

Pardew is capable enough to fight his way out of this corner. The dead cat will bounce. But if Newcastle can't find a way out of a two-year cycle of medicority and danger, it's impossible to escape the idea we'll be back at this point before long.

HEROES AND VILLAINS OF THE WEEK HEROES Durham CCC Another year, another trophy - this is a club that has made success a part of their DNA. Well done to Paul Collingwood and the team.

Nottingham Forest fans Sporting 1,000 green jumpers to mark Brian Clough was a touch of genius - and a reminder of the good humour that makes our game great.

VILLAINS Cyber fools Mario Balotelli tweeted about Manchester United's defeat and was met with horrible, vile racist abuse.

These small-minded fools should be punished.

Greg Dyke Grinning on Uefa's podium, he was celebrating England landing the final and semi-final of Euro 2020. But no word on the travesty of the competition being shunted around the Continent, which will make it very expensive for supporters.


Nottingham Forest supporters pay tribute to Brian Clough

Paul Dummett's <Bdiving header gives Newcastle United victory over Crystal Palace in extra time. Below: Alan Pardew
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Sep 26, 2014
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