The weather around West Bromwich Albion’s Palm Training Ground matches the mood of everyone inside the club at the moment – it’s bleak.
The under-soil heating has been on full power since Wednesday morning to keep the first-team training pitch playable, and the ground staff have been in before 6am to spend over two hours clearing the snow so that the team could train.
They eventually got onto the field an hour later than planned on Friday – the day before a crucial game in their bid for Premier League survival when they travel to Vicarage Road to face Watford.
The snow-clearers know, like the manager, that they’re all in the firing line if they don’t get their jobs right.
Alan Pardew said in his pre-match news conference on Friday: “These guys (the players) are paid a lot of money to play for this football club, and I’ve made it very, very clear to them – people will lose their jobs if we get relegated.
WATCH: Alan Pardew discusses the dressing-room leak this week
“That may be the manager, or people underneath, so we’ve got to fight. And we want to see fight on the pitch.”
Britain may be in the midst of some unprecedented and ferocious weather this week, but Pardew has been embroiled in a storm at The Hawthorns almost as soon as he walked in the door three months ago.
He has already seen the chairman and chief executive that hired him sacked, four of his players reprimanded for ill-discipline on a trip abroad, and striker Jay Rodriguez was handed an FA charge of using racist language.
All this while struggling in the relegation places. The Albion supporters have been chilled to the bone for a lot longer than just this week and might feel there’s been just too much in-fighting.
Sky Sports News reported on Tuesday that, during shouting and arguments in the dressing room last weekend, Chris Brunt was critical of his team-mates and the manager’s tactics after a 2-1 home defeat to Huddersfield.
But Pardew, who has done his best to meet tough questions head on in press conferences throughout this blizzard, insists this heated exchange should not come as a surprise and may actually help to lift their heads above the snow drifts.
“I’m not sure our supporters would be disappointed with that,” he said. “What would they expect us to do? Not have words? Not have conflict in the dressing room after a performance like that?
“It came out about Brunty but there was more than Brunty saying a piece. There was the captain, myself, John Carver who all had words. Frustration and anger in the dressing room is part of sport. I don’t have a problem with it. The only disappointment is that it came out of the dressing room.
“But I’d be foolish and not a good manager if I didn’t listen to those comments, have some reflection on them Monday and Tuesday and hopefully come up with something to help us do something different on Saturday. That’s what I’ve done.”
Refreshing if not icy honesty from a man who – even under heavy bombardment from many of the Albion supporters – has appeared willing to meet criticism head on.
Pardew has rarely ducked a question throughout his ordeal but one remains that he still hasn’t been able to answer and could ultimately cost him him his job…
Why has this Albion squad managed just one win in 14 Premier League games with him in charge?
If he doesn’t come up with an answer quickly, Albion are on an inevitable slide to the Championship.