When Alan Pardew was unveiled as the new manager of Newcastle United back in 2010, the Magpie fans presumed owner Mike Ashley had appointed another “yes man” to join the “cockney mafia”.
Many fans protested after former boss Chris Hughton had guided the Toon Army back into top flight football with young gun Andy Carroll sparking some life back into the St James Park faithful.
But Pardew, who had no real success story to put on his CV, won the fans over with his sheer determination and courage and has now grabbed the Manager of the Season Award.
The former Southampton boss has taken the club to the verge of Champions League qualification this season, with his signings – particularly strikers Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse – proving influential.
Pardew, when awarded the prize, was very quick to add praise for his colleges and said: “It’s been a magnificent achievement by everyone at this club
“We had a plan, a goal and I knew we had a special group of players that could compete with everyone in this league.”
Pardew’s life on Tyneside didn’t get off to the best of starts as the Toon Army didn’t accept the man who was set to take the club forward, finishing a below average 12th.
But with wins against arch rivals Sunderland and an unforgettable 3-0 win against Manchester United earlier in the year, the Geordie faithful began to get behind the one they call the “Silver Fox” and fuelled a campaign which has silenced all the critics against the North East giants.
Pardew changed most of the team that was promoted, moving on some of the potential trouble makers in Joey Barton and Andy Carroll.
This left the door open for new hungry players like Yohan Cabaye, Cisse and crowd favourite Ba to walk in and stamp their mark on Tyneside.
“We have a great team unity now, everyone wants to achieve success and anything more than fifth this year will be a bonus” added Pardew.
This award caps off the hard work by not only Pardew, but owner Ashley with the club securing financial this year- a year which has seen many clubs crumble under the economic downturn
United travel to Everton on Sunday in the penultimate fixture of the season with the Magpies having a narrow chance of qualifying for the Champions League – which hasn’t been achieved since the late Sir Bobby Robson was in the hot seat.