FORMER Newcastle United winger Keith Gillespie has likened the current situation at the club to that of a “pantomime”.
United boss Alan Pardew is under intense pressure following Saturday’s 4-0 defeat at Southampton, which left his side bottom of the Premier League table.
Pardew has faced the supporters’ ire for some time, and the situation is likely to come to a head again when Hull City visit St James’s Park on Saturday.
Gillespie – who played for Newcastle between 1995 and 1998 – believes Pardew is on “borrowed time” at the club.
The Northern Irishman said: “It is a bit of a pantomime at times at Newcastle, the way things are going on. They had the changing of the stadium name, which angered the fans, and it just seems to be one thing after another.
“They really need to improve immediately. It looks like Alan Pardew is on borrowed time, especially if they lose on Saturday.
“The fans are not happy, and rightfully so. If things don’t improve, they’re going to be in a long relegation battle this year.
“I did fear for them at the start of the season because the players they brought in were players that a lot of people hadn’t really heard of.”
Gillespie feels Neil Lennon and Tony Pulis should be among the candidates to replace Pardew, should he be sacked.
He added: “Neil Lennon did a fantastic job at Celtic and I’m sure he’s going to be itching to get back into football.
“You’ve got quite a few people out there now. Sometimes you’re looking about trying to maybe get a manager from somewhere else, but you’ve got the likes of Tony Pulis and Neil Lennon out of work.
“Those are people who will be mentioned if Alan Pardew does get the sack.”
Pardew’s one major achievement as Newcastle boss was the fifth-placed finish he led the club to in the 2011-12 season.
However, Gillespie feels that was the “worst thing that could have happened” to the manager.
He continued: “I think a couple of years ago they probably overachieved when they came so close to qualifying for the Champions League.
“Knowing what Newcastle is like as an area, the expectation level is absolutely massive.
“That was probably the worst thing that could have happened to them, because they’ve now had a mediocre time and the fans are getting onto (Mike) Ashley.”