DIY expert Alan Pardew is taking the IKEA approach to dragging Newcastle United out of the doldrums.
The Magpies host Liverpool on Saturday having put together a run of three successive – and increasingly unlikely – victories to ease themselves out of the Barclays Premier League relegation zone and into the Capital One Cup quarter-finals.
Each win has relieved some of the pressure on Pardew and while some supporters may not be fully behind him, the pressure has eased with the players clearly firmly behind the 53-year-old.
However, Pardew insists his methods, which he likens to assembling a piece of flat-pack furniture, would not have worked if he had ignored the instructions and found himself with a wobbly structure and a handful of nuts and bolts left over.
He said: “You’ve kind of got to box it down. It’s a bit like one of those IKEA furniture packs you buy – you can’t try and get to the end, you’ve got to do all the little bits to get there, and it takes time.
“I’ve done a few of them because my wife’s Swedish. It’s about doing that little bit first, and if you get that wrong, the second bit doesn’t work. If you get the second bit wrong, the third bit definitely ain’t working and the tabletop is all…
“I think it’s very important, if you’re in the coaching or managerial world, that you actually segment it down and just say, ‘Right, what’s our problem, what do we need to do, what needs to happen at this football club to turn us from what we are to a better team?’.
“I also think the last international break was important for us so we could do a review of how we were getting at teams and how they were getting at us. I think that helped us.
“I think we’ve put some blocks in place that now gives us some sort of thing to hinge on to.”
Newcastle ended their wait for a first league win of the season with a scratchy 1-0 victory over Leicester on October 18, and followed it up with a more impressive performance to edge out Tottenham 2-1 at White Hart Lane after falling behind last weekend.
But perhaps the best of the lot was Wednesday night’s 2-0 Capital One Cup victory at Manchester City in which Ryan Taylor, playing his first senior game for 26 months, and youngsters Rolando Aarons and Adam Armstrong made light of the high-quality opposition they faced.
The celebrations at the final whistle said much about the changing atmosphere at the club, although Pardew, who has had to contend with concerted calls for his head in recent months, made a swift and low-key exit.
He said: “As an experienced manager, I’ve experienced times like that before – not perhaps with the scale of the media criticism that I was receiving, but certainly in terms of results.
“I’ve had results like that at Charlton and West Ham, and you have to try to find a solution. If you don’t believe you’re strong enough as a character to find a solution, then don’t do the job.
“I’m confident I can do this job and I was always confident I could turn it around.”
A fourth win on the trot against Liverpool would help to cement that recovery, although Pardew is wary of the Reds’ enigmatic summer signing Mario Balotelli and his struggle to impose himself following his return to English football.
He said: “I think he’s a great player, I really do. When I’ve seen the really, really big games come along, he has delivered for Italy and in the big games for Manchester City.
“I think big games turn him on a little bit. It’s probably the other games that you really need to focus on him, and I think that’s probably an area he needs to improve on.
“I think we’re a big game – we’re on the telly, he’s under a lot of pressure, so I’m very wary of him because he can deliver on those days.”