December 23 2016
The rumour mill has been grinding for some time but now he’s gone. Jamesey bids a (on the whole, fond) farewell to Alan Pardew.
Well, it’s been on the cards for a while but on Thursday, December 22, came an official announcement that “Crystal Palace FC have today asked Alan Pardew to step down as manager of the club.” One must say that’s a very genteel way of saying he’s had the proverbial elbow.
As in many of his previous clubs, his record at SE25 has been patchy. The statistics reveal losing sequences interspersed with winning runs and not too many WDL periods.
In the two years he spent as manager at CPFC, Pards kicked off in January 2015 with one of the finest achievements in the club’s history.
Taking over a relegation zone outfit, he steered it to 10th position in the Showusthemoulah League and that was a top-tier record in the club’s history. Naturally he became Super-Al again with a very big capital “S” after that…
Anyhow, let’s start at the beginning as far as this supporter is concerned. He came to Selhurst in 1987 when Palace were a strong Division Two side.
Pards had been playing semi-pro football while working in a family glazing business based in Sutton. I am told that the wily Ron Noades (need I explain who he was?) persuaded him to sign on at less money than he was earning as an honest glazier.
If his main ambition was to play in England’s top football league, it was a wise move. Within a couple of seasons Palace were promoted to the old first division and got to an FA cup final. Pards helped the club achieve the latter by scoring a vital goal in a 4-3 semi-final victory against Liverpool.
Unlike other ex-players who later became Palace managers (Peter Taylor and Dougie Freedman immediately spring to mind), Pards’ career with the club was not adorned with glittering performances, important goals and general brilliance.
He was a hard-working and useful squad midfielder who was never, one would imagine, in the top group of players automatically picked for a game.
Pards didn’t elicit a great deal of enthusiasm from the crowd either and during his four years at Selhurst sometimes attracted a few groans (but never boos) when the team was announced over the speakers.
He was a good workmanlike player, reliable and unspectacular, but always gave his all and obviously was a good choice as far as Steve Coppell was concerned.
After spending his prime years at Selhurst, Pards moved to Charlton and ended his playing career at Barnet.
In 1999, after waiting in the wings at Reading, he took his first managerial job, following on to West Ham, Charlton, Southampton and Newcastle.
His managerial CV had not been spectacular and was sullied by a few unpleasant incidents. But his reputation, persuasiveness and performances were certainly good enough to persuade the clubs mentioned above to employ him.
It was in the north-east that his career hit really troubled times. Many Newcastle supporters hated him and chairman, Mike Ashley.
Whether they didn’t like a “cockney” softie in charge is an open question but his years at the club were certainly inconsistent.
Ironically, in 2014 a mere few weeks after being awarded Newcastle Premier League Manager of the Month for November, Pards was given permission to talk to CPFC after the sacking of Neil Warnock.
The deal was sealed and on Jan 3, 2015, Pards took the helm at Selhurst and the rest of that remarkable season is covered above.
After such a scintillating debut,everyone at CPFC had high expectations for the 2015-16 season. By Christmas, there was even talk of European football. Do what?
After one year, had the Messiah finally arrived at SE25 to lead us to the promised land of Stacksodosh respectability?
As 2016, the answer came loud and clear - a resounding No. A succession of woeful performances saw the Eagles slide limply down the table.
A 14-game run without a win mercifully ended with a 1-0 victory over Norwich City.
Palace just about scraped through for survival and the euphoria of an FA Cup final against Man U probably saved Pards from the sack.
The current season started equally badly without going into the distressing details.
At the hour of Pards’ dismissal, Palace had won only six games out of 36 in the calendar year. It must be said that most clubs would have shown their manager the exit door earlier after such a dismal record.
It has been confirmed as I write that Sam Allardyce has taken over the reins.
The disgraced former England boss is a man this commentator dislikes intensely. However, as a known “keeper-upper” he is a wise choice in the short term and that must must be the crucial task in the coming months.
How will we all look back on Pards’ performance in the future? Hard to say of course; history writes itself.
I don’t share the jubilation at his dismissal shown by many here. His mere presence took me back to the years when he was a player and CPFC really was a force to be reckoned with. But that’s not really a realistic appraisal, I admit.
There have been far worse managers than him. If it wasn’t for the colossal pressure to stay up and reap the rich rewards, he might have been given a little longer. And who knows, he might have hit on one of his winning patches?
At any rate, and this isn’t sarcasm, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, Pards. Good luck in your next job…
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