A DEFIANT Alan Pardew is refusing to hide from the pressure of life as Newcastle manager amid speculation that his days are numbered.
The 52-year-old woke last weekend to headlines that he faces the sack if his side do not beat Aston Villa on Sunday, with the Magpies having lost their last three Premier League games, one of them, unforgivably, to arch-rivals Sunderland.
Sources on Tyneside were quick to play down the suggestion, but there is little doubt that the focus remains on a man who has regularly borne the brunt of fans’ frustrations during his time on Tyneside to date.
However, Pardew insists he can shoulder the burden.
He said: “It happens in football. Some stories have no foundation and they are printed anyway and we have to deal with that as players, as managers.
“Anybody involved in the Premier League, we are big news, so that comes with the territory.
“When you lose four or five home games at Newcastle, you are under pressure and I don’t hide from that.
“Every three months at this club, there has been a period of pressure. I don’t see it as any greater than it was last year when we went to QPR, for example.
“Maybe the year before, we had a year where it all sort of didn’t really build into any pressure. We lost games, but we managed to bounce back quickly.
“But the pressure comes sometimes from scenarios that you are faced with, and we have lost some key players in this period.
“You take (Yohan) Cabaye, (Fabricio) Coloccini, (Loic) Remy and Cheik Tiote out of my team and it isn’t going to help me win games. But when they are back, it strengthens my hand and hopefully we get the result we want.”
France international Cabaye, of course, has gone for good, but the prospective returns of Coloccini and Tiote from injury – Pardew will make late decisions on the pair – coupled with the completion of striker Remy’s three-match ban, could hardly be more timely.
Loan signing Remy’s 11 goals helped the Magpies to a fine start to the season, and his dismissal for a petulant clash with Norwich’s Bradley Johnson has proved hugely costly.
During his absence, the 27-year-old learned that no further action would be taken over a rape allegation, which he denied, and Pardew is confident that will lift a weight from his mind.
He said: “The court case that he was involved in is now over and I think that’s been a big relief to him and his family. I think he is actually in better shape than he has been all year.
“We have lacked a real goal threat since he has been gone. You take someone who has been in red-hot form out of the team, and it’s difficult. But he is back and he definitely looks sharp.”
Remy will return to a team which has failed to score without him while conceding 10 goals, four of them in a demoralising 4-0 home defeat by Tottenham last time out which prompted Pardew to tell his players a few home truths.
The manager said: “It’s what our city breathes for and works so hard for, to watch their team on a Saturday or Sunday and for us to give a performance that the fans can be proud of.
“We didn’t do that, certainly in the last two or three home games, and we need to do that, we need to put a performance in.”