Belfast Telegraph

Pardew expecting negative reception

Alan Pardew is steeling himself to walk into a storm as he attempts to cling on to his job as Newcastle manager.

The 53-year-old will send his team into Barclays Premier League battle with Hull on Saturday firm in the knowledge that many of the 50,000-plus spectators who will pack into St James' Park will do so ready to demand his removal as manager.

Travelling supporters did just that during last weekend's abject 4-0 defeat at Southampton, but the stakes will be raised significantly this time around with Pardew facing a repeat of the broadside aimed at him during the final home game of last season against Cardiff.

Asked if he was bracing himself in the face of what he has described as "mass hysteria", the Magpies' boss, who has seen his team win just five league games during 2014 to date, said: "Of course.

"You don't expect me to wave to the crowd and say, 'Hi everyone, I'm happy, how are you today?'. That's not happening.

"But it can also make you stronger - it can make the players stronger too. We have talked about the Cardiff game and coming through that. We knew before that game how much pressure there would be.

"There was more pressure on the players that day than on me. That was the first time I have ever experienced that. As a manager, you have to use your knowledge and resolve to deal with certain situations.

"I had some really testing times last season, as we know. It's about being a manager who can control certain situations."

The prevailing situation is such that skipper Fabricio Coloccini has moved in a seemingly vain attempt to head off a revolt by appealing to fans to get behind the team as they look for their first league win of the campaign.

Writing in his programme notes, the Argentinian said: "We are football fans too, so we understand that things can get frustrating. But please, support the team for 90 minutes inside the stadium. We need your support."

Pardew claimed after the Southampton game that his players had been affected by the atmosphere, and has been working this week to prevent a repeat having experienced both the highs and the lows of what St James' can offer.

He said: "I think it is important that they [the players] understand the history and dynamics of this football club.

"At this club, we have had nights here which take my breath away, like Benfica when we were pushing for the goal in the second half and Arsenal when we came back from four down and Chelsea when we beat them. They were unbelievable atmospheres.

"You are going to get the other side from time to time. I would not say this is a normal negative game, I think it is a little more than that.

"You have to deal with that emotion. It's an emotional crowd which relays itself on to the pitch. The players are going to have to deal with it.

"The one thing I think is important is that on Saturday, I will look for players who I think are struggling with the situation, more so to protect them.

"It may well be that at half time, I make an early change. It might be that the situation has got too much for that individual player, not because he is necessarily playing poorly."

This weekend's fixture will see Pardew will come face-to-face - and hopefully, no closer - with Hull midfielder David Meyler, the man he infamously head-butted during last season's encounter between the sides at the KC Stadium.

He insists he is a changed man in the wake of that incident and will extend the hand of friendship this time around.

Pardew said: "Obviously I have had to change. It is an incident I apologised for and regretted.

"I do not think I have seen him since. I will shake his hand and I am sure he will smile at me. It is something I like to think that I have learnt from."

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