UNDER-pressure Alan Pardew admits he’s feeling the heat at Newcastle United – but he’s confident his team can avoid a chilly winter of discontent.
Pardew’s side take on Queens Park Rangers tomorrow needing a win to pull away from the Premier League’s relegation zone.
Injury-hit Newcastle – who travel to Manchester United and Arsenal over Christmas – are just two points above the bottom three after a run of one win in eight league games.
Supporters were left frustrated in the summer when United signed only one senior player, Vurnon Anita, in the last transfer window – despite the club facing extra games because of their involvement in the Europa League.
Pardew’s squad has been badly hit by injury – Hatem Ben Arfa, Yohan Cabaye and Steve Taylor are all sidelined until next month.
And Pardew – who was named the Premier League’s Manager of the Season award in May after guiding the club to a remarkable fifth-placed finish – has admitted it’s been tough going this term.
“When you’re a football manager, when you’re winning and the teams have momentum, the job’s easier,” Pardew told SportMail.
“It just is – I don’t care what any manager says.
“He might say that he works harder when he’s winning – but that’s a lie. You work harder when things aren’t going well.
“The one thing you can’t do is to be over-analytical, and put more pressure on the players.
“We try to get the balance right, but we really are at a stage now where we need to get our sleeves up and win a game by hook or by crook.
“I couldn’t care less if QPR play 100 more passes than us – they won’t – as long as we get a win.
“We need to show a winning mentality and some resilience to see out a game.”
Second-from-bottom QPR are deeper in trouble than United, but they have picked up under new manager Harry Redknapp, pictured.
They beat Fulham 2-1 last weekend thanks to two goals from Adel Taarabt – the victory was the club’s first in the league their season – and will head to Tyneside in confident mood.
However, Pardew – whose team were yesterday drawn against Ukrainian club Metalist Kharkiv in the Europa League’s Round of 32 – isn’t concerned with QPR and their upturn in fortunes.
Instead, Pardew’s only interested in what he can influence – his players.
“They have picked up, but then that’s the season we are having,” added Pardew, whose side were beaten 3-1 by champions Manchester City last weekend.
“There is the Arsenal game (on December 29), which comes after they have had a day off, the trip to Ukraine, we could all lean on little things that have gone against us.
“But I’m telling you, there’s only one outcome there. You’re going to be in big, big trouble.
“So we’ve got to deal with things. We need to be ready for Arsenal after they’ve had seven days’ rest, and get ready to travel, I don’t know, 28 million miles to play Metalist Kharkiv.
“It’s easy to feel sorry for yourself – and easy to point the finger in this game at another player, the manager, and even the fans. But ultimately you have to look at yourself and do the best job you can do – that’s what I keep saying to the players.
“It’s just about doing your job on the pitch, and the result will take care of itself.
“On Saturday (against City), we had a few who played better than what I would expect their job to be.
“Vurnon Anita was terrific, Demba Ba was good in everything he did.
“Cheik Tiote looked more like himself, and Jonas Gutierrez had probably his best 45 minutes of the season in the second half. (Demba Ba) scores goals. He did the first half of last season and we need him to have a better half this time around.
“In fact, I thought he did well against Manchester City. He was unlucky not to score after two minutes with an intuitive effort that Joe Hart saved.
“So there are signs there. We need to make sure those signs can get turned into a win.
“So we are starting to see the signs.
“But that means nothing if we walk out of the stadium with nothing.”