Pardew: The heat is on

The former West Ham and Charlton manager arrived at St James’ Park

in December to pick up the reins of the Magpies’ fight to remain

among the big boys, a task they have all but achieved as a result

of Tuesday night’s 0-0 draw with leaders Manchester United.

However, having seen Aston Villa counterpart Gerard Houllier rushed

to hospital overnight, Pardew insists the stakes have been raised

even higher in recent years. He said: “From my earlier time in the

Premier League to now, the emphasis seems to be so much more on the

manager for good and bad, and I don’t really think that’s healthy

or right, if I am honest. “It’s about the clubs and players. They

are the guys who go out there and perform and get you off your

seat, they are the ones who really should be spoken to and

discussed. “Personally, I don’t suffer too badly with stress,

although my grey hair gives that away a little bit – but I had grey

hair when I played and if you saw me play, it would be stressful.

“You have just got to be balanced and treat victory and defeat in

the same manner if you can. “It’s very difficult, defeat, because

we all suffer. Sir Alex [Ferguson] suffers, I suffer – and I suffer

just as much in this division as I did in any other division. “I

would like to just wish Gerard all the best and hope he recovers

very, very quickly because it’s a business where we have to take

care of ourselves at times.” Pardew will hope Newcastle take care

of themselves at Blackpool on Saturday as they seek revenge for

their 2-0 home defeat at the hands of Ian Holloway’s side in

September. A third successive reverse at Bloomfield Road would

plunge the Tangerines into ever-deeper relegation trouble as two of

last season’s promoted sides continue to battle for the right to

dine at the top table. The Magpies’ 40-point haul to date does not

yet mathematically guarantee their presence, and nor would 43,

although Pardew is not setting his players a target. He said: “I

haven’t even thought about a target because I think this team is

good enough to be in this division and good enough for a top-10

finish, and we have got five games to prove that. “I think 43 is

out of the equation, and that’s really where you want to put

yourself as quickly as you can. “They [Blackpool] are having a

little bit of a down time, but that doesn’t mean to say the season

will be down time. “There is still time for them to put it right. I

feel they can do it, but hopefully after us.” Pardew will have

skipper Kevin Nolan back from suspension, but midfielder Danny

Guthrie will miss out with a shin problem and Tim Krul will

continue in goal as Steve Harper faces up to the prospect of

surgery on his injured knee. The manager said: “Harps isn’t right

and we will have to review him over the next couple of weeks. “He’s

not necessarily out for the season, but it could be that he needs a

small operation just to sort his little problem out. “It’s not a

major problem, but we will have a look at that and weight that up

over the next couple of weeks.”