By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Managing Editor
Three years ago today, Alan Pardew strode into St. James' Park for the first time to be unveiled as Newcastle United's new manager.
Having helped secure the Magpies' top flight status following his arrival, a fifth-placed Premier League finish followed in his first full season in charge, to bring European football to Tyneside for the first time since 2007.
United flourished in the Europa League, reaching the quarter-finals before narrowly losing over two legs against Portuguese giants Benfica.
Their Premier League form suffered as a result, but this term Newcastle have been back to their best in domestic action, recording victories over the likes of Chelsea, Tottenham and - most recently - Manchester United.
For Pardew, there have been many highs - and naturally some low points as well - during his 36 months in the hot seat.
But the 52-year-old, who is the top flight's second-longest serving manager behind Arsene Wenger, wouldn't have swapped it for anything.
And in an exclusive chat about his tenure with nufc.co.uk, Pardew revealed how he is trying to create a team which reflects the region he now calls home.
"It seems quick when I look back today, but there has been periods where it has been very difficult," explained the manager.
"I'm proud of what I've achieved here and I'm honoured to be the manager. It's a fantastic club with the best supporters in the world.
"I've tried to put in place a work ethic, a discipline and an attacking make-up of the team. Sometimes we get undone but we are trying to build and build each year.
"I know what this Club means to this city, particularly when you win, to go into work and have that pride in your team. It give a real boost to your spirit.
"It's an area of the country that is a hard-working region. The people here are so honest and hard-working, and the team needs to reflect that.
"If it doesn't, the fans get upset, and there were periods last season where we didn't do that. They were right to be upset.
"It was my job to make sure we put that right this year and we have worked really, really hard. We are getting our rewards for it but there is still a big part of the season to go."
A former boss of Reading, West Ham United, Charlton and Southampton, Pardew believes he has learnt plenty during his spell at Gallowgate so far.
From the feeling on the terraces to coping with world class stars, it has been an experience which he is delighted to be a part of.
"I've learned that you have to be resilient," said Pardew.
"As tough as it was at the other clubs I've managed - West Ham and Southampton in particular - this is harder.
"It's a religious kind of support, which makes it very emotional, and I've had to learn how to cope with that.
"As a manager I've had to embrace different cultures, different mentalities on how to play the game, and every player gives you a different set of problems. I've gained great experience from some great players here, and continue to do so."
So, with all that in mind, is he a better manager than the one who arrived on 9th December, 2010?
"I think so," Pardew replied.
"I can detatch myself from the emotion of the game, which comes with age as well. When you are younger you get wrapped up in it a little bit.
"Although I might be jumping up and down on the sideline, I am very focussed on what is going on, how the game is going and what decisions I need to make.
"But the most important thing is that you have to have your finger on the pulse. The Premier League is changing every year and you've got to be right at the cutting edge of it.
"I like to think we are and we have really improved with some fantastic stuff on the training ground; the fitness of the guys and the condition they are in. I'm really pleased with that.
"As a manager you want to take a few steps forward every year - it makes you a better manager and makes for a better team.
"Hopefully our fans can see where we are trying to take the team. I've loved every minute of the last three years, and long may it continue."
Alan Pardew's Top Three United Moments
1. Beating Manchester United 3-0 at St. James' Park (4th January, 2012)
"That was the outstanding performance of my time here. We were the better team from start to finish, played it perfectly and deserved the margin of victory."
2. Beating Chelsea 2-0 at St. James' Park (2nd November, 2013)
"They have a team full of quality and an even-better manager, but we stuck to a game plan and won the game in a great manner."
3. Facing Benfica at St. James' Park in the Europa League quarter-final (11th April, 2013)
"We pushed them all the way and came so close. It was a fantastic night, with an unbelievable atmosphere. If we had got a couple of breaks we would have ended up in the semi-final of the Europa League."