Who is your Premier League manager of the season?
Roberto Mancini if Man City win the league? Brendan Rodgers for Swansea's style and substance? Paul Lambert for surpassing expectations at Norwich?
Each of those have a claim (and Sir Alex Ferguson is never far away in these things) but realistically there is a clear winner in my view - honorary Geordie Alan Pardew.
Regardless of whether Newcastle finish in the top four or not, what he has achieved on Tyneside this season is staggering.
Wednesday night's win over Chelsea symbolised everything about the Newcastle side he's developed. They were tremendously well organised, showed fantastic battling qualities and team spirit, and demonstrated wonderful flair going forward.
I don't mind saying that at the start of the season I thought Newcastle would end up getting relegated.
Many fans saw Pardew as a nodding dog for the unpopular owners. But he's turned out to be anything but.
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I remember that when Pardew first went to Newcastle (and by the way I thought Chris Hughton was treated incredibly unfairly) a lot of the fans' websites were incredibly negative about his appointment; many saw him as a nodding dog for the unpopular owners.
But he's turned out to be anything but and the tone on those same websites has changed. I read one tongue-in-cheek comment this week which said 'I dinna know who this man thinks he is. He's come in here, improved our team, improved our style of play, improved our league position...'
They've certainly claimed some decent scalps long the way - beating Man Utd 3-0, Liverpool 2-0, Chelsea 2-0.
In footballing terms Pardew's results speak for themselves. Everywhere he's been, his percentage win-rate stands out: Southampton (53), Reading (48), Newcastle (43), West Ham (41). Only his time at Charlton (31) could be perceived as relatively disappointing.
Pardew is meticulous in everything he does but in the week that Roy Hodgson was appointed England boss, I couldn't help reflecting that he isn't the style of person who would necessarily go down well at the FA.
He is quite outspoken at times and I don't feel he is one who would necessarily toe the line, when it is necessary to do so, and there is a touch of arrogance in his manner that helps set him apart from some of his peers and gets the best out of players.
Take Fabricio Coloccini, for example, who appears a player transformed. Pardew has got him playing to his strengths and that's mirrored throughout the side; there are no square pegs in round holes. People know what their job is; they know what they are meant to be doing and work tremendously hard for their boss.
Then there are players who have come into the side like James Perch, who many thought of as extremely ordinary, who has had such an incredible impact that suddenly the fans are calling him 'Perchinio'!
Up front Newcastle have been a revelation. In the first half of the season Demba Ba caught the eye, now it's all about Papiss Cisse - even though I actually think Ba is still playing pretty well.
Both of Cisse's strikes against Chelsea were wonder goals, for me. The second one is the more spectacular but the first was absolutely breath-taking. He's performed at that level since he arrived at the club following another great piece of talent spotting. Not bad for £9m! He looks as though he's worth twice, three times that amount.
Cheik Ismael Tiote has been incredible too, while Hatem Ben Arfa - the 'enfant terrible' of French football - looks like a player rehabilitated. He hasn't put a foot wrong for Newcastle and has become an integral part of the side.
Every time Newcastle lose and lose badly - the defeats to Fulham, Tottenham and Wigan spring to mind - there has been a temptation to say 'that's it, the bubble has finally burst' but it never has.
That fantastic achievement is down to the dedication and inspiration of the management and the coaching staff. Generally speaking - aside from notable absentees like Steven Taylor - they've been fairly fortunate with injuries which has meant that Pardew has been able to play a similar team for much of the season.
Perhaps Pardew's biggest achievement is that nobody seems to be talking about Mike Ashley anymore! I imagine the owner is absolutely delighted because Pardew has taken all of the pressure of him.
Of course, Newcastle can still have a massive impact on the destiny of the Premier League title.
If Manchester City win at Newcastle on Sunday then they will deserve to be champions, because as United found out, it's a hell of a tough place to go and get a result.
With 50,000-odd Geordies there it is going to be one fantastic afternoon and, to be honest, I wouldn't want to predict which way it will go!
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Joe Cheetham (Newcastle United fan) says...
There is only one winner... Pardew. Cabaye Ba and Cisse are all amazing players and he got them for a incredibly cheap price each of hem are worth 3 times the amount. All he has do now is to get some experienced players for the european championships or even the champions league.Like i said Pardew is he one for me.
Posted 22:06 5th May 2012
Campbell Waddell (Newcastle United fan) says...
As regards manager of the year Jeff, there a few worthy candidates but in the end you have to come down on the side of Pardew he's been "unbelievable Jeff. In fact I think you say that from top to bottom Newcastle united could qualify for best run club of the year! In my opinion Jeff the title race is very far from over, 3-1 Toon over moneybags City, but even if City lose on Sunday I still think it isn't over because Man Utd still have to go to Sunderland. Martin O'neil will want to end the season on a high, so anything can happen still "belieable Jeff".
Posted 10:55 5th May 2012
Owen Parkes (Everton fan) says...
Although Pardew has done a great job, my manager of the year goes to Lambert. Beacause nowrich were odds on Favoriates to go down and look what he has done. 1. Lambert 2. Pardew 3. Rodgers/Martinez [ if Wigan stay up]
Posted 10:49 5th May 2012
Kathleen Hunt (Newcastle United fan) says...
alan pardew walking in geordie wonderland amazig season for the toon
Posted 10:08 5th May 2012
Jack Hunter (Newcastle United fan) says...
although Pardew has been absolutely fantastic, I think a certain Messr. John Carver has been a huge difference, hope he opens up the statue for Sir. Bobby, true hero, but back to Pardew, what can I say, he has signed, Ben Arfa (Chris Hughton signed him on loan but Pardew gave him contract proper so I like to think its a Pardiola signing), Ba, Cisse, Cabaye, and I think when they're fit and firing on all cylinders, Sylvain Marveaux and Gabriel Obertan can put in a good shift, looking at our team we have no "poor" players, 19 wins, 8 losses and 9 losses, above 50% win ratio this season if my Mathemications aren't flawed, Mr. Pardew, you have my total backing, you could sign a player from the Ithsmian Premier league and I would back you to the end of the earth, you have proven not only to North East supporters, but to football supporters in general, after all rotten apples have been chucked at you, losing Carrol, losing Nolan, Barton and Enrique, missing Colo and S.Taylor for parts of season, renaming of stadium, which is good business move but attitude of the fans discontent can and probably would have affected the team, 5-2, 5-0, 4-0 at Fulham, Tottenham and Wigan respectively, after all of these rotten apples, you've made a peach and reaped the rewards, had you have not ruled yourself out of the running, I reckon it may not be too premature to say you could've been considered a dark horse for England job, makes me wonder, who are these Entertainers everyones relating my team too, I mean they're good, but Ginola is no Ben Arfa, no matter how pretty he is!
Posted 00:18 5th May 2012
Harry Osei-tutu (Aston Villa fan) says...
You Guys are COMPLETELY LOST... its got to be none other than McLeish :o/
Posted 13:58 4th May 2012
Dale Lincoln (Newcastle United fan) says...
come onn the toon we will do this :) am happy where we are so no matter what happens we have been excellent tbh :) would be nice tho
Posted 13:46 4th May 2012
Alan Tompkins (Norwich City fan) says...
Surely it should go to the manager who has done the best with the lowest budget...Paul Lambert. He has taken a team of league 1 and Championship players and survived for another season beating the likes of Pardew and Rodgers and not forgetting Mr Redknapp. But we all know he will be overlooked as the press have a hatred of Norfolk based on the anti-Canary reporting over the past season.
Posted 12:55 4th May 2012
Carl Morris (Newcastle United fan) says...
terry conner please alan pardew all the way up the toooooonnnnnn arrrrmmyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!!
Posted 12:36 4th May 2012
James Smith (Manchester United fan) says...
Manchester City do not "deserve" the title!! The team who finishes top at the END of the season deserve the title. If this is Manchester City then so be it. but let's just see what happens Anyway, Alan Pardew reluctantly gets my vote. I was horrified at what Newcastle did to Chris Hughton and to appoint "a manager with a proven track record" in Alan Pardew?! However, what Alan Pardew has done is nothing short of amazing given the resources available and the quality of his scouting network. It won't make a blind bit of difference but bravo Pardew, bravo!!
Posted 11:25 4th May 2012
Sam tintin Little (Newcastle United fan) says...
I think the whole of England would be shocked if Pards didn't get the manager of the season award ! Since when did a side get promoted from the Championship to go to battling for a top four finish ? Trully amazing work from all those involved, from Pards to Ashley to the backroom staff and the players. Suprised noone has yet mentioned Tim Krul's name in this comment section, how outstanding has that lad been !!! Bring on City !!
Posted 10:58 4th May 2012
Andrew Barker (Manchester United fan) says...
I couldnt agree more with Jeff's comments... Padew has done an amazing job this year and deserves all the credit he gets. Manager of the year in my opinion, closely followed by Brendon Rodgers and Paul Lambert.
Posted 10:38 4th May 2012
Josh Mcleod (Barcelona fan) says...
Pardew deserve's the manager of the year this season, the money he had to get new players during the summer and janurary transfer season wasn't the best, however he did a great job with the little amount, he has mounted him self into a serious chance to take a champions league place next year, the other managers in the manager of the year have done well, but no one expected this from newcastle, he got new players and got them working as a team within a few weeks and have done extremely well
Posted 10:30 4th May 2012
Dan Buckingham (Portsmouth fan) says...
easy choice Alan Pardew
Posted 09:39 4th May 2012
Luke Masterman (Manchester United fan) says...
This season has been a complete transformation for Newcastle, I can hardly believe they were in the Championship 2 seasons ago, and now St James' Park (out of respect I won't call any long standing stadium it's sold name) is now a place to fear going to as it used to be, Pardew has to be manager of the year, turned the team completely and found some excellent signing, Ba and Cisse are an amazing strike duo, remind me of Cole and Yorke.
Posted 09:19 4th May 2012
Robert Hacker (Newcastle United fan) says...
Couldn't agree more. Of course I never doubted Pardew, Lliambas or Ashley for one moment.
Posted 09:02 4th May 2012
Nigel Karslake (Tottenham Hotspur fan) says...
As a Spurs fan, it grieves me to agree with you - I really thought Newcastle were relegation fodder, but what a revelation, nothing fancy...just good solid, straight forward (simple) football. If they can keep the team together over the summer and maybe add a bit more in Mid field, I think talk of top 4 next season will be realistic - The premiership is already looking exciting for next term!!
Posted 08:31 4th May 2012
David Baker (Queens Park Rangers fan) says...
I think there is only one manager who can get this. its Alan Pardew. Newcastle have been outstanding this season and credit to Alan Pardew. I think Brendan Rogers has done well but i think Swanseas style of play has been found out and they'll need to change it next season. so the 1-2-3 for me. 1. Alan Pardew 2. Brendan Rogers 3. David Moyes.
Posted 08:13 4th May 2012
Steve Davies (Tottenham Hotspur fan) says...
Even though I was born a mackem, and would support Sunderland if Spurs ever went out of business I fully agree that AP has done a fantastic job under extreme pressure and prejudice being from the south Well Done!!!
Posted 08:05 4th May 2012
Pablo N (Newcastle United fan) says...
The achievements are all the more stunning when you consider he moved out/lost the supposed spine of the team with the departures of Nolan, Barton and Enrique at the start of the season. Great job Pards and excellent choice Mr. Ashley!
Posted 06:55 4th May 2012