This Premier League season has been the tale of three Davids amongst a host of Goliaths: Leicester City, Watford and Crystal Palace.
Leicester's campaign thus far has been quite incredible, establishing themselves as top four challengers; the Hornets have pulled off victories over Liverpool and Manchester United and sit ninth; whilst Palace's emergance as Europa League hopefuls tipified an excellent 2015.
And the man who deserves full credit for the latter's turnaround is Alan Pardew. The Englishman guided the Eagles to a respectable tenth-placed finish last season after fearing relegation midway through.
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One year ago, when Neil Warnock was sacked as manager, Palace found themselves battling for Premier League survivial once again. Tony Pulis' departure the summer before came as a huge setback and one that reflected in the club's uninspiring performances.
Following Warnock's sacking on December 29, Pardew’s tumultuous reign as Newcastle United manager came to an end when given the chance to take over at his beloved Palace, whom he once played for.
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His impact was almost immediate, in terms of results and the general mood at Selhurst Park. In Pardew’s first game in charge, Palace beat Doncaster Rovers in the FA Cup and claimed a victory over Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League soon after.
Pardew has since transformed the Eagles into a side capable of dynamic football yet still defensively resilient through a change of tactics and excellent signings, epitomised by their performances this season.
At the half-way stage, his side currently sit seventh on 31 points, just 11 behind league leaders Arsenal after claiming unprecedented victories over Chelsea and Liverpool. Pardew’s drive and determination to prove himself as a capable manager has transcended into the commitment shown by his players.
The summer signing of Yohan Cabaye has proved a particular master stroke at Selhurst Park. The Frenchman's previous time spent with Pardew clearly played a part in his signing and to great effect, scoring five league goals this campaign.
Palace have built their team around the creativity of Cabaye, with wingers Yannick Bolasie and Wilfried Zaha particularly thriving from his ability to pick a pass.
Defensive solidarity has also played it's part, with centre-backs Scott Dann and Damien Delaney performing admirably at the heart of Palace's back line. The pair have conceded just 19 goals this season, and if it wasn't for a lack of goals scored by the club's strikers, Palace might have found themselves higher up the table.
Pardew has been previously been linked with the England role should Roy Hodgson step down after next summer's European Championships - a testement to what the Palace boss has achieved since taking over in south London.
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