ALAN Pardew was in good enough spirits to consider a rare night out among Newcastle fans after guiding them to a fourth successive victory as Liverpool became their latest victims.
The 53-year-old, who has come under intense pressure from disaffected fans in recent weeks, saw striker Ayoze Perez come off the bench to fire the Magpies to a 1-0 win at St James’ Park, their third on a trot in the league inside a morale-boosting fortnight.
He wore a broad smile at the final whistle as one fan dressed as a skeleton paraded around the stand behind him holding a placard which said, “Pardew, back from the dead”.
Pardew said: “It is Halloween! Bobby Robson had some dark days here, don’t worry about that. If you are Newcastle manager, it is not all gin and tonics and aperitifs. There will be rough days.
“I always knew, and I kept saying it, that we have good spirit and good talent. I am not saying I saw the wins coming, but I knew there was talent.
“Our fans are brilliant. It will be fantastic in the town tonight - I might even go in myself, the first time for a while.
“That is what this city is about. It breathes and loves football. When it does not go well, they let you know, and when it is going well, they let you know. You take the good with the bad.”
Pardew, who celebrates four years in the job next month, sent out his team brimming with confidence after victories over Leicester, Tottenham and Manchester City.
And while it was a commendable defensive solidity which limited the visitors, for whom Mario Balotelli and Raheem Sterling were largely anonymous, it was Newcastle who found the cutting edge.
There were 17 minutes remaining when the once again impressive Moussa Sissoko played a one-two with full-back Paul Dummett before sending in a low cross which was cut out by Alberto Moreno, but swiftly dispatched into the back of the net by Perez.
It would have been 2-0 four minutes later had Liverpool keeper Simon Mignolet not managed to keep out Remy Cabella’s goal-bound effort with his foot and Newcastle emerged as deserved winners, although not in the view of Reds boss Brendan Rodgers.
He said: “I didn’t think we deserved to lose the game, but we didn’t do enough to win it. We had enough of the ball, we had good movement in front of the ball, we just lacked maybe that wee bit of creativity and invention in the final third of the field.
“Anything we had to deal with until the goal, we dealt well with defensively, there were no real issues. But we made a mistake and the mistake, unfortunately, has cost us the game and that’s the biggest disappointment of it all.”
Rodgers, however, was unhappy that referee Andre Marriner only booked Sissoko for a second-half challenge on Joe Allen when he felt a red card was the only option.
He said: “The only one I have seen was Sissoko’s challenge on Joe Allen where he should have been sent off, if you watch that again.
“That was the only challenge I thought that probably looked not as bad at the time, but when you see it again, it was a bad challenge.”
While Pardew can enjoy another week on the training ground - albeit without midfielder Gabriel Obertan, who suffered a serious thigh injury - Rodgers faces the task of raising spirits for Tuesday night’s daunting Champions League trip to Real Madrid.
He said: “We have worked very hard for a couple of years to get to this level and playing against Real Madrid in the Bernabeu says we’ve been doing okay.
“We are in a transitional phase and have to do better. It’s a wonderful game for us. It is a big week against the best in the world at the moment. We will go into the game hoping to get something out of it.”