Pardew is back at St Mary’s for the first time since being ruthlessly booted out by Saints chairman Nicola Cortese two years ago — but he is not bitter.
Hardline Cortese and Pards just never got on.
He said: “Was I mentally scarred after getting sacked? No, I was quite happy about it if I’m honest. I thought I’d done a good job but it was proving to be very, very difficult to work with Mr Cortese.
“It wasn’t a case of jumping before being pushed. No, I don’t think I would ever do that.
“But it was a difficult period working with Mr Cortese. We just didn’t see eye to eye.
“There was no nastiness in there, he just didn’t want me as his manager.
“I think that was obviously coming through to me.
“I had a great relationship with the fans, though, and our performances were strong bearing in mind we had minus 10 points and didn’t really have a starting XI when I arrived.
“But the over-riding factor for me was the players I left behind — I’m talking Jose Fonte, Lallana, Lambert, Jason Puncheon — who I took to the club.
“They are all in the first team and I am very proud of that because they are all terrific lads and have all done really well.
“And I think they have improved this year, probably enough for the club to stay in the Premier League."