'Hard worker' Al offers honesty

BY foxsports • February 11, 2011

The 49-year-old, who was appointed at St James' Park two months ago on Wednesday, claimed a place in the Tyneside history books on Saturday when he dragged his side from the depths of despair to claim a remarkable point against Arsenal. But even as Cheik Tiote blasted in a stunning equaliser to seal a 4-4 Premier League draw, Pardew was keeping his feet firmly on the ground. The former Reading, West Ham, Charlton and Southampton boss arrived in the North-East in the wake of Chris Hughton's controversial dismissal, and was immediately pigeon-holed as yet another member of the so-called cockney mafia which has aroused such fury in recent years. However, a 3-1 victory over Liverpool in his first game at the helm and a run of six Premier League games in 2011 with just one defeat have helped to smooth the way. But at 4-0 down to the Gunners, just 26 minutes into a match which came at the end of the week during which Newcastle sold prize asset Andy Carroll to the Reds, that goodwill looked to be evaporating rapidly until he earned his corn in the dressing room at half-time. Pardew said: "I don't like 'accepted' or 'not accepted'. I hope the fans understand that I have tried to be honest and I am working as hard as I can. "As a football manager, especially at a club where football is almost like a religion, you would expect that from your manager, and that's what I am offering." Pardew indicated in the immediate aftermath of a breathtaking game that he would celebrate with his first night on the town since heading for Tyneside, although he admitted he did not know whether people would be buying him drinks or throwing them at him. In the event, his celebrations proved a little more low-key. He said: "I was too tired to have a night out. I had two beers and retired to Match of the Day - which I enjoyed." However, while the events of last Saturday afternoon, or at least the latter part of it, will remain fresh in the memories of those who witnessed them for some time, Pardew knew the focus must move swiftly on to Saturday's trip to Blackburn and the business of securing the remaining points the club needs to ensure a prolonged stay in the top flight. The draw against Arsenal was all the more important after Wolves ended Manchester United's unbeaten run and Wigan defeated Blackburn 4-3 to keep the bottom three in touch with the pack. Pardew said: "It's one of those periods of the season where because of the results last week, it has brought us all together and it's now, 'What's going to happen?' "The next two or three games, you are either going to get away from it and get yourselves maybe fighting for Europe, or you are going to find yourselves in a real dogfight, which I think it is going to be. "It's probably very dangerous to put a figure on that because it looks like being a bit of a freak season. "I wouldn't like to put a figure on that. What is important, though, is that we stay where we are and not get involved in that. "The next four or five games are very important." Strikers Leon Best and Nile Ranger have shaken off hamstring and back problems respectively to take their place in the squad, where they will be joined by new addition Shefki Kuqi. Ranger today found himself involved in a new club v country row after withdrawing from England Under-20s duty in midweek, but Pardew insisted he could not have joined up. He said: "Nile had a bad back. It stiffens up. He is a big guy, he is growing still and there was no way he could have travelled."

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