THE thing about social media is that it’s not particularly sociable.
Few people take to the various platforms to say something nice about anyone or anything. This is especially true about football fans.
Alan Pardew does have his supporters among the Newcastle United faithful. It’s just that few of them are on Twitter. They are, for the most part, the silent majority, and even they want to see more from their manager.
The tweets and messageboard comments since the derby and either side of last Saturday’s so-so draw at West Bromwich Albion have ranged from “Pardew must go” to “we are going down” with the occasional and classic “I’m not going back again” thrown in.
Newspapers tend to take a more balanced view of such matters. It’s the ordinary fan on the internet that moves to the extreme position.
We really do live in strange times.
Pardew is not immune to what is being said about him, his team and where Newcastle United are at this moment.
The supporters, it must be said, have shown remarkable patience over what has been something of a wasted season.
But they are not far away from turning on the manager and team en masse.
Lose to Liverpool – who are of course without their best player – tomorrow and St James’ Park might turn nasty.
Asked about losing the fans, Pardew said: “It’s strange because after the Benfica game it was all very positive. In retrospect, maybe the fact our performance was so strong and that the crowd had such a great reaction played a part in the Sunderland game. Perhaps even our fans thought we were going to win that game comfortably, but it doesn’t work like that.
“When criticism comes at a big football club like this, you have to be big enough and bold enough to deal with it. Whether you’re manager, player, chief executive or the chairman, it comes with the territory. I’ve got absolutely no problem with that. There’s only one way to deal with it and that’s through performances.
“Me talking here means nothing. At least last Saturday at West Brom I thought we got a performance that suggested that we had been hurt. That’s how it should be.”
When The Journal asked Pardew about the more negative comments from those fans who believe Newcastle are going down and whether he thought they were more born out frustration, he said: “Possibly.”
That one-word answer allows leverage to fill in some blanks.
Judging by the look on his face, Pardew knows there are Newcastle supporters who do fear the worst and they will take a bit of winning over. Three points tomorrow evening would at least be a start.
He said: “Of course it’s important to keep the fans happy. I don’t think we’re under any illusions about what we need to do, but we’re playing against a really good side, and we’re going to have to be at full tilt to beat them.
“I know our fans are intelligent enough to know that we’re not just going to turn up and steamroller Liverpool. That’s not going to happen. This is going to be a really tight game, but hopefully a game where we can get three valuable points.”
The newer players will, or should, now know the demands placed upon anyone when they join Newcastle United.
Some have shown they are capable of handling this pressure, others not so much, but Pardew believes his squad have broad shoulders, if brittle bones.
He said: “There’s a determination within the group and the most important thing this season now is to get over the line. Anything else would be a bonus for us with the season we’ve had.
“It really has been one thing after another. For example, to lose Tim Krul for a second time to another serious injury sums it up. For Ryan Taylor to have a cruciate on top of his original cruciate is galling. We keep looking at our players and cursing some of the injuries we’ve had. Ryan’s was a real blow to us a group because he’s so well liked here. We’re all suffering his pain as well.”
Pardew did admit his team has gone backwards from this time a year ago when a Champions League place was a possibility.
He said: “You cannot have a season of finishing fifth like we had last year without momentum and some good fortune, too.
“To finish above the teams we finished above, like Chelsea and Liverpool, you can’t just have a good side.
“The finance we have compared to those two clubs is not even half.
“We did a marvellous job last year and people might say we overachieved, but we had momentum.
“When you have a team that has struggled for momentum all year it’s difficult to reach those levels. Are we as strong as last year? We’re not.
“But in terms of individuals, we can be quite quickly. If we got a great result on Saturday, I wouldn’t put it past us to win two more games.
“But if we lose, then we lose that little bit of momentum we gained at West Brom and suddenly you’re fighting again to try and get those three points. It’s a different pressure.”
Pardew is not going to judge this season until the last four games have come and gone.
There are 12 points to be won, or lost, and a couple more wins would make a significant difference when it comes to the final marking.
The manager said: “When you throw a blanket across the division, there’s not a lot of difference between clubs that have been described as having great seasons and us. It’s very difficult to assess at the moment with all the problems we’ve had. That should be done at the end of the year.”
Pardew should be in no doubt that he will assessed. Probably within 140 characters.