Pardew: I can take Toon pressure

ALAN PARDEW insists he fully understood the responsibility he took on when he accepted the Newcastle job.

The 49-year-old will send out his team for the first time in tonight’s Barclays Premier League clash with Liverpool at St James’ Park, with the Toon Army once again in rebellious mood.

Chris Hughton’s sacking on Monday has reopened the wounds for fans who have spent much of Mike Ashley’s three-and-a-half year reign railing against the way he has run the club.

Pardew finds himself in the unenviable position of having to placate players and supporters alike while at the same time dealing in the hard currency of Premier League points.

However, it is a challenge he readily accepted and one he is determined to overcome.

Pardew said: “The attraction of a club like this is the love the fans have for the club. At West Ham, it was a similar kind of love.

“It is passionate, almost bordering on religious, and you have to understand that. We carry a huge responsibility, the management team and the playing staff, to try to fulfil that criterion.

“It’s a pressure and you have to perform every week, so I am hoping we can play a brand of football and style the fans enjoy and love, and get them behind the team.”

Several protests have been planned with civil unrest having broken out on Gallowgate once again. And while Newcastle fans have in recent times managed successfully to support their team while voicing their anger at the Ashley regime, the atmosphere is certain to be tense.

Pardew admits he does not know what to expect as he prepares to be caught in the crossfire.

He said: “It will be slight apprehension because I know there is really good feeling for Chris and a lot of the fans are sad he has gone.

“I’m afraid there is nothing I can do about that. I am sure they will want to pay their own respects to him in their way.

“But I hope then we focus on the game and win the game. That is the most important thing on Saturday for me.

“I will just go out and focus on the 11 players, that they are doing the jobs I hope they can do to the best of their ability and we come out victors.”

Meanwhile, Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson believes the confidence within the club is typified by the performances of the likes of Maxi Rodriguez and Lucas. The pair have not always been the most celebrated players at Anfield but both have been heavily involved in the team’s recent recovery.

“People have not spoken much about Maxi but he has been a revelation,” Hodgson said. “He is a bit of an unsung hero at the moment, he’s not getting a lot of credit but he’s doing a great job.

“He has taken on board the work we have tried to do. Suggestions that he goes missing in a game are very harsh and I can produce statistics to prove he doesn’t.

“His positional play is very good, his technical ability is very good and, at the moment, with three goals, he is right up there.”

Lucas has had more time to establish himself, having made 141 Liverpool appearances, but it was only towards the end of last season he really started to find his feet in central midfield.

The current campaign has seen him flourish and Hodgson believes the player, who turns 24 next month, finally feels at home.

“Lucas is working hard on the tactical side of his game and on the shape of the team,” said the 63-year-old. “He is a very intelligent player and I think it is very much that he is happy in his role.

“On top of that he has that bit of extra confidence which being selected for Brazil brings.” Lucas, alongside Meireles, will take centre stage today as Steven Gerrard is still a week away from recovering fully from a hamstring injury.

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