Alan Pardew emerged from the most bruising afternoon of his Newcastle United tenure pledging to “take stock” of the factors that had led to a toxic atmosphere at St James’ Park – and admitting that he and his squad had “let down” the supporters.
It was difficult to square the 3-0 win that relegated Cardiff and halted a run of six straight defeats with the anger and displeasure on show on Saturday. Fans chanted for the manager’s head, some walked out despite appeals not to and Pardew found it difficult to emerge from the dug-out such was the vitriol aimed at him.
He was absent from the post-game lap of honour, although Hatem Ben Arfa – who showed up in the stands to continue his recent habit of irritating the management – did make it on to the pitch.
Pardew will not quit and has begun planning for next season. He has asked for Swansea’s Jonjo Shelvey to be added to the club’s summer hit-list, wants more width and pace in his squad and an influx of British talent – but attempts to persuade the board to hand a one-year contract extension to Shola Ameobi have fallen on deaf ears.
There will be an end-of-season summit with Mike Ashley in which he will be expected to justify what has happened since Christmas. Clearly shocked by what had happened, he pledged to change things if he is here next season.
One of the things that Pardew is understood to be requesting is that he is no longer the sole voice on club affairs. During a year that has included some unpopular decisions, he has consistently been required to speak on matters that aren’t under his direct jurisdiction and he knows this has damaged him.
Ironically, there may need to be less justifying come August. Ashley will finally spend this summer and with managing director Lee Charnley in situ and trusted by those around him, the prospect of a Joe Kinnear-style curve-ball appointment to antagonise supporters is extremely unlikely.
Even though he obviously doesn’t want to see the change that most supporters seem to want, Pardew knows something must alter in the summer.
Asked whether the mood would be brighter after the close season if the club recruit, he said: “It’s very difficult for me to say that because I have to take stock of today a little bit, all round really as a club.
Asked whether this meant he was questioning his own future, he said: “No, review the whole situation. We’ve got ourselves in a position here when we’ve put so much pressure on ourselves and our fans are not happy about that.
“How best can we deal with doing it? There’s no problem sweeping it under the carpet and saying that everything is hunky-dory, we’ve won today and it’s all good.
“We know there’s problems and I’m accepting that, we need to put it right. Probably the best way is to have the team that started this season.”
Pardew has also apologised for what has happened since Christmas. “I said to the players ‘look, the most important thing today was the staff at the stadium and the training ground, that we got the win for them’. We wanted to get that in the bag.
“Even more important than that was our fans – we have let them down. Over the last six games we’ve not been as competitive, anywhere near as competitive as we should be for this club. When you’ve been on a run like that, you could there was still a certain nervousness in our team. You could sense it.
“It was only when the second goal went in that suddenly we started retaining the ball a little better and we looked comfortable to get a third goal. It made us very, very edgy and obviously the environment didn’t help.
“So I was really proud of the players. I can’t tell you now pleased I am that they responded to that challenge, because from a professional manager’s point of view, that was a tough game to play in.”
Pardew said that he would stand by his “principles” despite the problems of late. He said: “You can’t do this job unless you’ve got a strength and resolve and there’s certain principles that you need as a manager and you have to stand by those. And in the last four or five weeks I’ve had to stand by some of the principles that I accept on the pitch and at the training ground and I’ve put them in place and I’ll stand by them.
“That’s why, in the end, I got a result today.”
Shola Ameobi – who admitted he was unlikely to be at Newcastle next season – urged fans to see the “bigger picture”.
He said: “The fans are entitled to voice their opinions, they’re not happy and that’s understandable. We started the season really well, and let’s not forget we’re in ninth position. I think that’s been overshadowed a bit.
“You finish where you deserve to at the end of the season. It’s been unfortunate that we’ve had this run. We need to look at the bigger picture. I know the manager is. If you look at the teams ahead of us, with the money spent, it’s not as bad as it seems.”