ALAN Pardew knows the onus is now on him to deliver the results to drag Newcastle United out of trouble after the Magpies’ board backed him heavily in the transfer market.
Pardew could hand debuts to three of his new arrivals at Villa Park and confirmed Moussa Sissoko – whose signing had “excited” the United boss the most of all his Gallic recruits – will definitely start in a match of crucial importance to the relegation dog fight.
Their arrivals have transformed the mood at St James’ Park and given Pardew the sort of squad options that he has been missing all season.
It has also put pressure on him to mould the quality arrivals into a team to finish the season with a flourish.
Pardew paid tribute to Mike Ashley for backing up his long-term vision and also for accelerating moves for Moussa Sissoko and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, confirming that both of those moves have required the owner to shell out significantly more than if they had proceeded in January as planned.
With that expenditure comes responsibility.
“We really don’t have too much to moan about,” Pardew said.
“Without doubt I’m happier now and I think the players will be too, more importantly. My position is taking responsibility for the team and taking the pressure and I’ve got no problem with that.
“But if you’re a player and you’re suddenly walking out with the group we’ve got now and you look round at the bench, you’d have to say you feel a lot more confident.
“I won’t be making too many excuses for them. Now, we’re all accountable for what happens on that pitch and we need to take that into every game.”
Pardew is ready to hand out a slew of debuts and all four new arrivals travelled with the squad to Birmingham. He says a big part of his job now is ensuring the players “gel” as quickly as possible, and has hinted that some may need to be given time.
“Sometimes the style of the player is significant, I think.
“With someone like Hatem who is a player that has moments, I think they’re difficult to gel. I think defenders sometimes find it difficult to understand the Premier League because there are a lot of complexities to positioning and the speed of the game and the speed of attacks, specifically compared to Ligue 1 in France.
“But there are some players that you just know are at the level and are going to hit the ground running and I don’t envisage Sissoko having a problem in this division or settling in quickly.” Pardew paid a fulsome tribute to Ashley, and admitted that his presence at the Reading game was “significant” for United.
“I think the signings have shown he is committed to the club,” he said.
“Because you don’t sign players at that age if you’re not committed to the club. If it was a short-term option he probably would have given me the signal to go and buy some older players to make sure we stayed in the division.
“If they were any good next year, it wouldn’t really matter, if you had that kind of vision. His vision is much more long-term than that. And that’s why we’ve bought the players we have.
“That didn’t happen because of the Reading game. All those players were well, well, well in the system and most of them well along the road to being finalised before the window. But we’ve accelerated certainly one of those from this summer and certainly one of those a week ahead of schedule. So it might have cost Mike more money, but we needed to do it.”
There is one bit of negative news, however. Hatem Ben Arfa remains at least two weeks away from a return.
Pardew explained: “I still think (Hatem) is two or three weeks away and obviously with the hamstring injury, the depth of that injury was such that we can’t take a chance with it. As much as we’d like him back, we have to make sure we’ve got him for those last 10 or 11 games, maybe 12.”