After four controversial years as manager of Newcastle United, Alan Pardew has left to manage Crystal Palace, the club where he plied his trade as a player. Pardew undoubtedly has his reasons for making the switch but is it a good move for the manager asks Conor Farrell.
On the face of it, an outsider with little knowledge of the man and his past would say no. The Premier League table alone is supportive of this. Pardew is leaving Newcastle in a respectable 10th place. The Geordie club, while not flying high, are comfortable and will surely be in the top flight again next season. Palace, on the other hand, are in the bottom three and are staring down the barrel of a relegation dogfight for the remainder of the season.
However, looking deeper into the make-up of both clubs gives a greater insight into the mind of Pardew when he made his decision. Take the owners of both clubs for example; Mike Ashley has shown great faith and support in Pardew by not succumbing to the fans wishes and sacking him. However, the Magpies’ chairman has only ever viewed Newcastle as a business. Pardew was greatly restricted in which players he could bring to the club and in the way he could handle the club’s finances.
Pardew had to consistently balance the books by selling his best players in order to raise funds for new ones. Yohann Cabaye was sold to PSG for £19 million and Mathieu Debuchy to Arsenal for £10 million. This income provided the required funds to invest in Remy Cabella, Siem de Jong and Daryl Janmaat during the summer.
Ashley is a shrewd businessman who only cares about turning over a profit, not about the fortunes of the club. Pardew was set to receive no funds in the January transfer window. These conditions made it very difficult for an ambitious manager like Pardew to succeed.
At Selhurst Park, however, Steve Parish is an entirely different proposition. The Crystal Palace chairman is an avid fan of the club and is in the business for success. Pardew will have much greater control over the signing of players at Palace although he will not have access to the same funds available in Newcastle.
Parish has run into difficulty of late in the fallout with Tony Pulis and the subsequent hiring of Neil Warnock. He will want Pardew to succeed and will surely give him every opportunity to do so. Pardew would certainly have been influenced by the prospect of greater control of the club and an easier working relationship with the chairman.
Unquestionably fans played a role in Pardew’s decision making process. For the last 12 months at Newcastle, the Toon Army have been calling for his head. ‘Pardew Out’ banners were ever present at St James’ Park and a website called SackPardew.com was even created.
While arguments can be made that Pardew did have some success, leading Newcastle to 5th place in 2011/2012 and collecting the Manager of the Year Award along the way, he was embroiled in too many controversies and suffered too many defeats for the fans to be enamoured with him.
Headbutting David Meyler and verbally abusing Manuel Pellegrini added a stain to Pardew’s record and along with poor results on the pitch, led to the fans ultimate disdain for the man. It must be said, he was never overly popular to begin with following the departure of Chris Hughton in 2010.
The fans at Selhurst Park will embrace Pardew warmly as a past player for their club. Fans will no doubt recall his match winning header against Liverpool in the epic 1990 FA Cup semi-final. He has the advantage of knowing the club and knowing the fans and that will buy him some favour from the outset. But if he wants to maintain that support the only way to do so is to win games.
Palace are in a precarious position at the moment. No wins from the last eight Premier League games has seen the club drop into the relegation zone. Lack of goals is a serious issue and signing a prolific goalscorer might be the first order of business for Pardew if he is to succeed.
His first game in the FA Cup was a good start. Palace had a comprehensive 4-0 victory over non-league Dover and dominated the game in a manner befitting of a Premier League club.
Success from the start might lift the mood around the club and if Pardew can acquire some attacking talent in the next couple of weeks he will put himself and Palace in a strong position to kick on in the league and climb the table.
Tough months lie ahead for Pardew but for a man of his experience, the pressure of dealing with a relegation fight might prove to be a more fitting test than maintain a mid-table spot with Newcastle.
Only time will tell whether or not this move will bear fruit for Pardew and Palace!
By Conor Farrell
Image via Wikipedia