Former Newcastle United chief Derek Llambias has claimed Alan Pardew did a ‘fantastic job’ at the club.
Pardew returns to St James’s Park tomorrow for the first time since leaving the Magpies midway through last season to join Crystal Palace.
Pardew split opinion during his five-year spell as Newcastle boss. He guided the club to fifth in the Premier League in his first full season in charge, as well as a Europa League quarter-final the following campaign, but flirted with relegation that same season, fell out with fan favourite Hatem Ben Arfa and lost four successive derbies against Sunderland.
Llambias was Newcastle’s managing director between 2008 and 2013, and was responsible for hiring Pardew after the sacking of Chris Hughton.
And while fans turned on Pardew in the last six months of his tenure, including organising a Sack Pardew campaign, Mike Ashley’s former right-hand man says he was a success.
“Alan did a fantastic job at Newcastle,” Llambias told The Sun.
“He came in at a difficult time, built the squad, got them playing good football, finished fifth, got into Europe - he did a great job.
“Considering where we were, to get us to fifth was an amazing season.
“He took us on a journey. The stadium was full with a good atmosphere and he gave us a European experience.
“I thoroughly enjoyed working with him and thought he was a really good guy that achieved a lot in a short time.
“As in all football, people are opinionated. Some fans thought he was great, some didn’t.”