So it seems that Crystal Palace are set to replace Neil Warnock with a man still held in high regard around Selhurst Park in Alan Pardew. But just why would Pardew leave Newcastle and take the Eagles hot-seat?
The Pull of Palace
Make no mistake, Pardew is arriving at a club where he will have a great deal of support. His playing exploits and in particular his winning goal against Liverpool in the 1990 FA Cup Semi Final made him a cult hero amongst the Palace faithful.
The same fans have also given every recent manager their unequivocal support. The 53 year old Pardew will be no different.
Even beyond the fans, Pardew will be backed. The Palace board will be all too aware of recent mistakes.
Losing Tony Pulis over transfer disputes will no doubt wrangle with the Eagles hierarchy and appointing Warnock, a man without any real Premier League pedigree, will have done likewise. Surely Pardew will be supported in putting his own stamp on the team in the way that his predecessors clearly weren’t.
Questionable on Paper
From an outsider’s perspective the move raises eyebrows. As I write, Newcastle are ninth while Palace lie in eighteenth and only three points of the bottom. Why would any manager jeopardise their own CV by swapping a top 10 challenge for a relegation battle? Will this decision come back to haunt Pardew? Only time will tell.
Moreover, Pardew’s own track record in fighting relegation only raises more doubts. His time at West Ham saw him assemble an expensive squad hoping to challenge for Europe. This proved not to be the case however and Pardew was sacked with the club rooted in relegation trouble. The Londoner quickly returned to Charlton Athletic who at the time were in just as much trouble as the Hammers. Little was done to stop the rot and the Addicks were relegated. If Palace were looking for ‘another Tony Pulis’ who could fight fires and inspire the team to beat the drop, they may have got the wrong man.
Any way out of Newcastle
Regardless of him being at St James’ Park since 2010, there was always the feeling that Pardew was never comfortable at the helm of the Magpies. His chances of winning over the fans were severely dented when he replaced the popular Chris Hughton.
The Geordie faithful viewed Pardew as another member of the ‘Cockney Mafia’ at the club. In spite of stabilising them in the Premier League and even taking them to Europe, Pardew has never got the fans on side. The raucous calls for his removal earlier this season show this all too well.
The real thorn in Pardew’s side may well simply have been Mike Ashley. From early on it was clear that the manager had little say in transfers. The bizarre appointment of Joe Kinnear only made things worse as Pardew often expressed. Perhaps he has felt undermined for too long and now Palace seem to have granted him an exit.
Whether Pardew is the right man to lead Palace to survival is debateable, but ultimately it seems that he, Palace and nearly everyone connected with Newcastle United seem happy with the prospective appointment.