Pardew struggles with ups and downs

Alan Pardew has admitted he has struggled to cope with the highs and lows of life as Newcastle manager.

Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew

The 51-year-old was named Manager of the Year by the League Managers' Association after guiding the Magpies to a remarkable fifth-placed finish in the Barclays Premier League last season.

Twelve months on, Pardew heads into tomorrow's final day clash with Arsenal mightily relieved to still be in charge of a top-flight club after a desperate and unexpected fight against relegation which has seen a vociferous minority of fans calling for his head grow significantly both in number and volume.

Predecessor Graeme Souness famously spoke of the "goldfish bowl" existence of the club's employees on Tyneside, and the Londoner admits his tenure has proved something of a roller-coaster ride.

Pardew said: "I have been here two and a half years, and I have probably experienced every emotion you could go through - and that was in the first six weeks.

"But I have been here two and a half years through it all and just sometimes the sensationalism of it all is frustrating as the manager.

"When we do really well, there's a real over the top reaction and then when it goes the other way, it's the reverse.

"We have to accept that that's how it is going to be at this football club and be able to deal with it.

"But this year has taught us how to deal with that side of it when the criticism comes, that we need to really batten down the hatches and make sure we get a result whichever way it is to get us back on a run."

Newcastle have learned much during a season which nearly brought a Europa League semi-final appearance, but also saw them commit the cardinal sin of losing at home to arch-rivals Sunderland and concede seven times at Arsenal and six times on their own pitch to Liverpool.

It has been testing to say the least and while simple survival was the bare minimum requirement, the fact that they managed to secure their place in next season's Premier League without having to rely on the shortcomings of others was a minor consolation for the manager.

Pardew said: "We said it was in our hands and we achieved it, which was a good thing.

"We didn't want to wait for a result at Arsenal v Wigan, so we did it the right way and we did it under huge, huge pressure as well.

"The players have had to do that and I think they will be better players for it.

"You have to experience those times and the pressure of that situation to understand it, and unless you have been a footballer, trust me, with a big club like this, you won't ever understand it."

Tomorrow's game will see 38-year-old keeper Steve Harper make his 199th and final appearance for the club he joined 20 years ago with Tim Krul injured and Rob Elliot suspended, and he will do so having revealed he was troubled by depression during his long spell as Shay Given's deputy.

With French midfielder Yohan Cabaye having complained of mental fatigue earlier this season, Pardew admits the psychological welfare of players is a growing consideration for managers.

He said: "That's a side of the game where we need to keep our finger on the pulse.

"Certainly, I have had three or four players with disorders at certain times in their career and come through.

"Players do get them, and it's about helping them. Roy Carroll at West Ham sticks in my mind.

"He was another goalkeeper and their trade, more than anyone else, is a little bit different because they are always slightly detached from the unit.

"Obviously, they train separately and they are not working in a unit as such, so they sometimes can go a little bit more down that line."

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