CRISIS? What crisis? It is 41 days since Alan Pardew went to Stoke City, after Mike Ashley had reportedly told a punter outside a pub that his manager would be out of work if Newcastle United lost, and suffered yet another defeat to hit rock bottom. Yet after this fifth successive victory, including a Capital One Cup triumph at Manchester City, Pardewâ€™s team lie two points off the top four. Perhaps Ashley is an enlightened chairman rather than a loose-mouthed fan with more money than sense. How refreshing it is to see a manager survive and prevail.
Ayoze PÃ©rez, signed from Tenerife for Â£1.6m in the summer, scored for the third league game in a row as Pardewâ€™s resurrection continued apace. Newcastle won six consecutive games around Easter 2012 but seldom in the Premier League has a manager so dramatically overseen such a turnaround in fortunes. Ashley can claim huge credit for standing by his man.
Pardew turned and gave a thumbs-up to his employer even before the final whistle which, while not quite in the realms of JosÃ© Mourinho seeking a handshake from the opposing dugout, reflected the confidence and relief sweeping through this proud and passionate club.
â€œYou can imagine everyone was pulling at him, and he stuck with me, and was very supportive, especially after the Southampton game [0-4 in September],â€ Pardew said. â€œAnd youâ€™ve got to have that as a manager, have that faith in you, in the work youâ€™re doing on the training ground, from the chief executive and from the staff.
â€œI like to think that buys you enough time. It maybe bought me just enough time on this occasion. It was just nice to say at that point, with a couple of minutes to go with the game won, â€˜Good winâ€™.â€
The Newcastle fans who went to such extremes baying for their managerâ€™s head during that run of one win in 15 league games are not quite singing his name just yet but on Sunday they were vociferous in their enjoyment of this thoroughly deserved win.
â€œNewcastle fans are an extreme of any fan,â€ Pardew acknowledged. â€œTheyâ€™re emotional: when they win, they go mad; when they lose, they go mad as well. We werenâ€™t winning games, and thatâ€™s what Iâ€™m paid to do. I tried to be consistent through that period; now weâ€™re on this lovely little run, Iâ€™ll try to be consistent as well through this. I hope they respect that. We wonâ€™t get carried away, and weâ€™ve got a lot to learn with these young players. But so far, so good.â€
West Bromwich Albion have mustered their own rally this season but, after gaining five points from their previous three games, this was a day to forget.
Saido Berahino will go off on England duty on Monday somewhat chastened after his prolific run of five goals in as many games was interrupted. â€œHe probably had his poorest game but people have poor games,â€ Alan Irvine, the West Brom manager, said.
â€œEverybody will ask, including myself, whether itâ€™s a question of what happened in the week [his first senior England call-up] but you can have a poor game at any time.â€
While Berahino could not locate top gear, bar one rising drive early on that Tim Krul tipped over on his way to extending the clubâ€™s run without conceding to 342 minutes in all competitions, Newcastleâ€™s front man continued his rich vein of form. With Papiss CissÃ© still not fully fit after knee surgery, PÃ©rez has been instrumental in aiding Newcastleâ€™s astonishing reversal in fortunes.
Sammy Ameobi had cut back inside to hit a beautiful swerved shot against Ben Fosterâ€™s crossbar early in a first half that was as notable for the several separate minutes of respectful applause for worthy remembrances as it was for penetrative football.
Newcastle were playing with the combination of freedom and structure that comes from a resilient response to adversity when they took the lead in the last minute of the first half.
The ball was played via a succession of short passes all the way across from Ameobi on the left to Daryl Janmaat raiding in from the right and from the Dutchmanâ€™s prompt low centre, PÃ©rez produced the deftest of touches to clip the ball with the heel of his right foot from behind his left foot to accelerate the ball on and past Foster.
The timing of the goal could not have been better for Newcastle and they returned for the second half with a spring in their step and with the Geordie faithful in fine voice in the Smethwick End.
Fabricio Coloccini was still up from an earlier corner when the ball was worked back out to Janmaat who bamboozled Youssouf Mulumbu, deputising for the suspended Craig Gardner, before delivering a lofted cross for the Newcastle captain to thud in his first Premier League goal since January 2011.
Man of the match Ayoze PÃ©rez (Newcastle) – The Guardian