Newcastle United boss Alan Pardew claims his humble beginnings as a non-league player has helped craft his man-management abilities.
The Magpies are currently on the fringes of Champions League qualification under Pardew, sitting fifth in the Premier League and equal on points with fourth-placed Tottenham.
A mixture of home-grown talent and international imports make up the Tyneside outfit and include former complex characters as Hatem Ben Arfa, who, under Pardew, has shed his ‘enfant terrible’ tag.
The 50-year-old manager insists his first experiences in football – working as a glazier in amateur football – before entering the game professional with Crystal Palace, gave him an insight on how to deal with demanding players in the dressing room.
“It was a very important route because you understand the workplace and what the media represents to the working man,” Pardew told The Manager.
“When you play in non-league football, you meet a cross-section of characters that you don’t meet in professional football.
“You might have a company chief executive and a dustbin man playing side-by-side in the same non-league team, so you come across many characters from different walks of life whereas in professional football, you have football-focused individuals who have based most of their upbringing on football because it was going to be their career from day one.
“Due to the playing route that I took, I have experienced diversity of character, so when I come across what may be classed as a ‘difficult or enigmatic character’ in the football world, it’s not much of a problem for me.”
Another side of football Pardew has had to deal with are the demands of fans under owner Mike Ashley’s reign.
The Sports Direct supremo’s regime has not always attested to the supporter’s best interests – renaming the stadium is just one example – and Pardew has had to deal with a tight budget.
However, the former West Ham United boss has done brilliantly to bring in such bargain heroes as Papiss Cisse and Demba Ba, and even now the club are edging closer to becoming self-sufficient.
Pardew said: “I do think that the clarity of the budget is important.
“Some fans may not be entirely happy with the amount we have to spend, but at least they know the whole picture.
“When you look at the world economy and where football is at the moment, we are seeing some really tough times.
“We have seen examples of Portsmouth and Rangers in Scotland that show if you over-stretch, you are going to find yourself in serious trouble and you are putting the club’s future at risk.
“At Newcastle, we have got a good foundation and a good financial model, and now the question is whether we can bring success within that model.”