HAVING endured a turbulent start to the season, Alan Pardew can relax over the international break after orchestrating a winning run which has both silenced the sustained campaign for him to be sacked and showed his credentials as one of the Premier League’s shrewdest managers.
Newcastle fans were made to wait seven games before seeing their side secure a victory, but have subsequently witnessed five back-to-back wins in all competitions.
However, even through those dark early days, Pardew appeared to have a knack for making the right call when it mattered.
His ability to alter games with well-timed substitutions has saved his side from an even worse start.
Five of the players he has sent in to action have found the back of the net this season – only Ronald Koeman at Southampton made changes with equally successful outcomes.
The difference between Pardew and Koeman, however, is the effect that the Magpies’ personnel changes have had on the result.
Of the five goals that Pardew’s substitutes have scored, three have been equalisers.
Rolando Aarons netted against Crystal Palace in a match which ended even, Papiss Cisse pounced to snatch a draw against Hull and Sammy Ameobi made an instant impact against Tottenham in a match that Newcastle went on to win.
Cisse’s first against Hull reduced the deficit, while Ayoze Perez gave Newcastle the lead and ultimately the win against Liverpool.
The caveat here, of course, is that Pardew’s team often found themselves in trouble, a charge that cannot be directed at Koeman’s high-flying Southampton.
However, if squad depth is a necessity to success in England’s top tier, the Saints should be considered a serious threat to the Premier League’s hierarchy.
Like Pardew, Koeman has seen his substitutes find the net five times, most recently this past weekend when Shane Long came off the bench to end Leicester’s stubborn resistance with a brace.
Between them, Newcastle and Southampton have accounted for nearly a third of all the goals scored by substitutes in the Premier league this season.
While each manager has deployed their reserves in largely opposing scenarios, both have done so with equally impressive results.