Alan Pardew has admitted he feared for his job in April – as he mounts a case for managerial longevity.
The Newcastle boss takes his team to Swansea tonight looking to break into the top four after a remarkable November run which makes him a clear front-runner for the Premier League’s manager of the month award.
However, it has been a difficult 2013 in many ways for the Magpies boss, who suffered a disastrous spring which left Newcastle clinging on to their top-flight status.
As he reflected on a bleak Monday for his managerial colleagues – with four being axed over the weekend – he admits April was a “tricky” time for him.
In the end Mike Ashley did not blink, although the consequences of the team’s poor run of form were that Joe Kinnear was appointed as director of football and the ground shifted around the manager.
He said: “I remember there have been a few games in my career where I felt my job was on the line and I have managed to get a win and keep it.
“I didn’t think Everton was one of those days (in September) but I can remember at Reading going to Notts County and thinking my job was definitely on the line.
“We won 4-3 that day and there were times at West Ham in the Championship. Here, I think the Liverpool and Sunderland games in April were a tricky time for me and the QPR game at the end of last season was important as well, but I don’t hide from that.”
While Pardew managed to keep his job, seven of his colleagues were not so fortunate over the last week.
Owen Coyle’s dismissal at Wigan came hot on the heels of the sacking of Martin Jol at Wigan and Dave Jones at Sheffield Wednesday – decisions which highlight how difficult it is to stay in a job for any prolonged period of time.
Of course, Pardew is now the second- longest serving manager in the Premier League after Arsene Wenger – and he argues continuity “works”.
He added: “I am sure Richard Bevan will again throw out the stats of what the average tenure is in the Championship, but I think it gets ignored a little bit.
“When you look at it, longevity and continuity does work.
“It is just about being able to get past those difficult games and dealing with the social media we have at the moment which brings instant reactions to a series of defeats.
“Or even a single defeat in Andre Villas Boas’ case. I’ve had that many times and Monday was a terribly disappointing day. Especially when sometimes you don’t know that it is coming. Sometimes you suspect it is coming, but you just feel that next game is the one the turn things around.”
Pardew’s recipe for survival is to be “strong” and to “stay true to the principles you have held during the more productive times.”
He said: “How do you get through? You have to be strong. Stay strong in your beliefs and what you are doing.
“Hopefully the players can find that perform,ance for you, like AVB’s players did on Sunday.
“Let’s be honest, whatever as been said the players played for him and he got a strong result.”
Pardew feels laying down long-term “foundations” for the club - and he highlights the Academy and bringing through young players as particular examples – is one of the keys to survival.
He said: “I have a few ex-players who are managers now and I always say to them make sure you are looking after the club and the academy, laying down the foundations, because the chairman might look at that and you might just get one extra game which gets you the win and keeps you in the job.”
Pardew has selection dilemmas ahead of the trip to South Wales and may decide to make changes to the team which has managed to string to four straight wins together.
The Newcastle boss is likely to stick with the same starting XI that overcame West Brom at the weekend but there is a possibility Hatem Ben Arfa, Vurnon Anita and Papiss Cisse may be involved.
He added: “It is good for the confidence and good for the mood.
“It is good for our strength of mind, but we have a quick turnaround this week.
“We have Swansea and they will be trying to knock us.
“The thing about the Premier League is any team can beat you.
“So you have to be at your best. We had to be at our best to beat West Brom and we will have to be the same at Swansea.”