Alan Pardew must be a contender for manager of the year, and ultimately a future England manager, if as many critics and players alike agree that an English manager should manage the England team.
Successful English managers are in a small club, however. Real success we’re talking here. Not just avoiding relegation. It needs one to get their team into the Champions League.
Of course, a British manager, Brendan Rogers, achieved this last season, but his team, Liverpool, look a long way away from repeating that achievement in this one. But, Pardew deserves the praise he rarely ever heard while manager of Newcastle United.
And as the Premier League table shows his new team, Palace, two places and seven points above his old one, as I write this, then why oh why was he given such a hard time by the Newcastle supporters, particularly?
There he was in charge of a club whose owner, Mike Ashley, was more concerned with keeping house than winning trophies.
And while up to date accounts show his club in the black, and quite handsomely so, it was at the expense of the manager’s emasculation, tied down by a succession of baffling choices of Director of football, each one with the power over a transfer policy that mostly waved players goodbye, and nearly always the star one at that.
Despite the paucity of incoming players, Pardew always succeeded in steering the club to a more than respectable position in the league when compared against their net spend.
Since taking over at Palace on January 3rd, this year, they have won eight league games out of thirteen, the last four consecutively. Prior to his arrival Palace won three out of twenty one. That is some improvement by any one’s standards.
Was the massive expectation at his former club just too damned unrealistic? We often hear what a big club Newcastle United is. They are not. They are a well-supported club, and passionately so. It is a big city with one football team residing within it.
So, of course, the 50 thousand or so black and white fanatics expect something for their very hard earned cash each time they loyally turn up. The reality, though, is different. Newcastle’s last league title was won back in the year 1927, and the last trophy won worthy of the name was the old Fairs cup, in 1969. Not the statistics of a big successful club, is it? And certainly the poor long suffering supporters seem more ambitious than its owner.
Alan Pardew must feel like a man reprieved at the final hour from a firing squad. His escape to Palace has thrown off the shackles of ridiculous expectation. Crystal Palace thought they were heading to the Championship until Pardew returned to the club for whom he once played. He has injected the team with a defiant confidence, and seems to have all but banished any serious fears of relegation.
One wonders how he might cut it with a bigger club with genuine ambition and recourses to match. And until it happens, we’ll never know, of course. But his cause hasn’t been helped by Davis Moyes’ failure at Manchester united last season. Moyes is Scottish, but in generalities attributed to all British managers, it did not serve well the cause.
He deserves his chance
If England do not do as well in the next European Championship tournament the tide and swell of public and media opinion will grind against Roy Hodgson, and the FA will once more be looking for a new employee.
They could surely do a lot worse than Pardew, and lets face it, how many other serious English contenders remain in the frame? And if the FA were to appoint their third foreign manager in four, then what would it say for the state of English football, let alone its managers?