Pardew's turn to deliver

Posted by Marc Duffy

Ian Horrocks/Getty ImagesAlan Pardew, left, works with Massadio Haidara, one of five French players acquired by Newcastle during the transfer window.

Newcastle United's disastrous form this season has seen the club eliminated from both domestic cup competitions at the first stage and at the wrong end of the table in a relegation scrap.

Throughout the season Alan Pardew has repeatedly asked for two things - the support of the fans at home and away as well as the support of the board, asking to be backed with new signings.

The fans have played their part. Thousands have turned up to away defeat after away defeat, supporting their team throughout. At home, the crowd stuck unanimously with Pardew despite regularly underwhelming performances. That changed when Reading turned up at St James' Park and left with their first away victory of the season. The fans are not lost yet, though.

Now the board have acted too, strengthening the squad with no fewer than five signings straight out of Ligue 1, including Friday's of Mousa Sissoko. This is the biggest sign of support for Pardew from Mike Ashley since he was awarded an 8-year contract in early September and Pardew will be expected to deliver instant results in return. Patience only stretches so far as Ashley has demonstrated throughout his ownership of the club.

Newcastle need an instant return. With only 15 games to play they sit perilously close to the drop zone in 16th position with a paltry 21 points from 23 games. Reading, in 18th, are only two points behind.

Tuesday night offers Pardew a good platform to begin this recovery. Newcastle head to Villa Park, scene of the relegation in May 2009, to face fellow strugglers, the bang-out-of-form Aston Villa. Villa have been terrible in the league this season and in the past week and a half have been eliminated from both domestic cup competitions by lower league teams including the surprise Capital One Cup semifinal loss over two legs to fourth-tier Bradford City.

Villa have an awful home record having won only two games and they've scored the least amount of goals too -- finding the back of the net only 8 times. As bad as Villa have been they are only one point behind Newcastle.....

This is a big ask for Pardew. He looked absolutely haggard in his press conference on Friday. It is hard for any team at any level, Sunday morning or Premier League, to integrate five new players and gain instant results. This is what he has to do, though it is highly unlikely that they'll all feature on Tuesday.

The fact that they all speak the same language should help. Fabricio Coloccini staying until at least the summer also helps the club in this fight.

Some have seen the signings as a final gamble by Ashley in order to stave off relegation before the huge TV deal comes into play next season. It's true, but I'm sure he will also have it in the back of his mind that if the worst comes to the worst and Newcastle go down, they will have more saleable assets that they would make a profit on. All five arrive at the club for a combined transfer fee less than Liverpool paid for Jordan Henderson alone. Almost zero risk.

Newcastle need to end their run of nine months without an away win and there can't be any more excuses for Pardew. And with the quality that has been added, Newcastle should be safe.

Twitter: @MarcSDuffy

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