ALAN PARDEW completed a sensational return to top flight management yesterday, and the latest incumbent of the Newcastle hotseat revealed his first task is to keep hold of star attraction Andy Carroll.
This time last year, Pardew, 49, was preparing League One Southampton for the visit of Tranmere.
Twelve months and a sacking later, and the former West Ham and Charlton boss was addressing the media as Newcastle’s sixth manager in three years, having just put the finishing touches to a scarcely creditable five-and-a-half-year contract.
Pardew, who last managed a top flight team in the 2006/07 season – a campaign he began by leading West Ham to their worst run in 40 years and ended in relegation with Charlton – made it abundantly clear he intends to build his new side around the robust qualities of England striker Carroll.
He said: “Andy Carroll was at the top of my list of questions because he needs to stay.
“This club has been crying out for another No9 and he looks like he’s fitting the bill, so I made it clear he needs to stay.”
Pardew’s appointment, which came just three days after the sacking of Chris Hughton, has been met with anything but universal approval from the St James’ Park faithful.
And Pardew was astute enough to know he faces a tough task to win over the masses.
He said: “I know the fans are frustrated, that’s fairly obvious by the reaction. They thought they had stability with Chris.
“I will work as hard as I possibly can to bring some longevity to the job. I’ve had a lot of texts from managers saying ‘you must be mad going there’.
“But it’s one of the top five clubs in England. It’s something I couldn’t turn down.”
FOR any manager to be given a five-and-a-half-year contract looks generous.
For a man who last managed in the top flight in 2007, it’s lottery winning stuff. Alan Pardew would surely have accepted a shorter deal for a crack at the big time. Instead, he’s locked into a pay day until 2016. Not a bad first result.