Pards attracted by Toon 'love'

Published Dec. 10, 2010 1:15 p.m. EST

The 49-year-old will send out his team for the first time in Saturday evening's Premier League clash with Liverpool at St James' Park, with the Toon Army once again in rebellious mood. Hughton's sacking on Monday has re-opened the wounds for fans who have spent much of Mike Ashley's three-and-a-half-year reign railing against the way he has run the club. His transfer policy, Kevin Keegan's treatment, the decision to sell the naming rights to St James' Park and Alan Shearer's second coming, which was quickly followed by his second departure in the wake of relegation, have all prompted furious responses. But the reaction to Hughton's dismissal after leading the club through straitened times back into the top flight and, most notably, to a 5-1 thrashing of derby rivals Sunderland, has been as ferocious as anything the sportswear magnate has experienced to date. It may have little effect on the famously thick-skinned Ashley, but Pardew finds himself in the unenviable position of having to placate players and supporters alike while at the same time dealing in the hard currency of Premier League points. However, it is a challenge he readily accepted and one he is determined to overcome. Pardew said: "The attraction of a club like this is the love the fans have for the club. At West Ham, it was a similar kind of love. "It is passionate, almost bordering on religious, and you have to understand that. "We carry a huge responsibility, the management team and the playing staff, to try to fulfil that criterion. "It's a pressure and you have to perform every week, so I am hoping we can play a brand of football and in a style that the fans enjoy and love, and get them behind the team. Hopefully, that will start on Saturday." Several protests have been planned with civil unrest having broken out on Gallowgate once again. And while Newcastle fans have in recent times managed successfully to support their team while voicing their anger at the Ashley regime, the atmosphere is certain to be tense. Pardew admits he does not know quite what to expect as he prepares to be caught in the crossfire, but he is adamant his only focus will be on the result as the Magpies attempt to end a run of five league games without a win. He said: "It will be slight apprehension because I know there is really good feeling for Chris and a lot of the fans are sad that he has gone. "I'm afraid there is nothing I can do about that. I am sure they will want to pay their own respects to him in their way. "But I hope then we focus on the game and win the game. That is the most important thing on Saturday for me. "I will just go out and focus on the 11 players, that they are doing the jobs I hope they can do to the best of their ability and we come out victors." The resurgent Reds will arrive on Tyneside on the back of Monday night's 3-0 victory over Aston Villa and hoping to take advantage of the fresh turmoil at St James'. Few locals will need reminding of their last visit in December two years ago, when they routed Newcastle 5-1 in a game which finally persuaded keeper Shay Given his future lay elsewhere. But Pardew is confident his progressive approach will give his side every chance of emerging with a positive result. He said: "I have a way of playing which is usually very positive, on the front foot looking to win the game no matter what our set-up is, and when we come up against the difficult sides, have a strategy to win the game."