Newcastle boss Alan Pardew is ready to come out fighting as he attempts to prove he is still the right man for the job.
The 51-year-old's future was a topic of intense speculation as last season's Barclays Premier League campaign drew to a close with the Magpies having only just retained their top-flight status, while the subsequent appointment of Joe Kinnear as director of football did little to solidify his position.
However, Pardew is back at work and in defiant mood with the start of the new campaign a little more than five weeks away. He told BBC Radio Newcastle: "I am almost an adopted Geordie, trust me. On my travels, I have seen many fans this summer and they have all relayed to me that they really want us to do better than last year, and I do as well."
Pardew added: "My message to them really and truly is look, I have got a seven-year contract left to manage this football club and I am going to manage it to the best of my ability and I hope that what we wish for is what I can deliver."
Pardew went from hero to villain in the space of 12 months as a team that finished in fifth place at the end of the 2011-12 season struggled to cope with the demands of the Europa League on top of their domestic commitments in the following campaign.
However, he has returned rejuvenated and confident that with January signings Mathieu Debuchy, Massadio Haidara, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Moussa Sissoko and Yoan Gouffran having six months in English football under their belts, they will be more competitive this time around.
He said: "Certainly since January, when we brought in the influx of Moussa and Mapou and Massadio, they have done very well for us. They have got six months under their belts, they are going to be better next year.
"We have got a World Cup year. I have got, I would suggest, 10 players, maybe more than that, who could get to the World Cup, so it's a very, very important year.
"I am very confident that some of the players who I think last year were probably just a little bit below par - I'm not going to name any names - with the World Cup around the corner are going to show how good they are and that will take the team forward in itself.
"But what must be remembered is we have got a good team here, good staff. We have had stability now for three years and I will protect that. I'm going to protect my staff and I'm going to protect my players and I'll protect our fans because I want to give them the best I can."