An ode to Pardew

By - Thursday 7th May, 2015

With the Premier League season drawing to a close, Nadim Lilani assesses Crystal Palace’s new boss and looks at what lies ahead

He’s a silver fox. He’s a dark horse. He’s a black sheep. Wait, hang on a minute. Scrap that last one. Alan Pardew definitely isn’t a black sheep. In fact, his honesty makes him perhaps the most relatable of all the managers in the Premier League.

Look at it like this. When Arsène Wenger loses a football match, he re-watches videos of his team to the point of collapse. If José Mourinho has had a bad day at the office, a referee – and the odd pundit – knows he will be on the end of a verbal rocket from the Special One.

How does Pardew deal with a setback? He heads down to the pub with his pals, has a few alcoholic drinks, and takes to the town to dance his problems away.

There are a lot of public figures who attempt the whole ‘matey’ thing and fail. One such example is radio DJ and television presenter Chris Evans. Something about his demeanour seems too forced, too over-the-top. With Pardew, that’s never the case. Oozing with incision and bravery, his words assure you that he’s a confident man, that he trusts himself. OK, he can seem conceited at times. But can’t we all? It’s just part of the Pardew package.

Pardew is friendly but he also knows when enough is enough

Another reason to respect Pardew is the expression he makes when someone leaves him displeased. It is tough and unmistakeable, like the chiselled faces of Mount Rushmore. Here is a bloke who is saying “Yes, I am friendly and I can have laugh – but I know when enough is enough. So stop ticking me off.”

Imagine this: you’re training on a chilly December evening. You’re not in the best of form. You shank a shot and the ball hits Pardew square on his forehead. His cold, piercing stare tells you exactly what he’s thinking. Do not do it again.

If instead Pardew cowered and walked away from the scene, like an easy-to-pick-on substitute teacher who has no idea how to control a class of year eights, it would represent trouble. He knows how to have fun but also understands the importance of discipline. Shying away from things is not in his DNA. And one would like to think that that has been evident from Palace’s change in style since the arrival of ‘Pardiola’.

In hindsight, it is probably for the best that Pulis left Palace when he did

Just look at the manner in which West Brom achieved victory over the Eagles a few weeks ago. That’s right, I’ve gone there. Because completing this piece without mentioning Tony Pulis would be, well, boring, wouldn’t it? The stench from the stink bomb of the Welshman’s departure still remains around Selhurst Park. But so do the qualities he instilled in many of Palace’s current squad. For that he must be given a lot of credit.

Yet, let’s not forget one key detail. It was about achieving survival when Pulis arrived. He got the job done emphatically. It was quite the turnaround but it wasn’t liquid football. Nobody cared much at the time. Of course they didn’t. Yet in hindsight, the marriage between Pulis and Palace wasn’t the perfect one. It was for the best for both parties that it turned out to be no more than a fleeting fling.

With new tools at his disposal, Pardew has the right building blocks to construct success

But back to the main point: Pardew. He’s released the shackles from Palace’s players and allowed them to express themselves a tad more than Pulis did. And it’s no coincidence that Pardew is slightly younger and more charismatic than his two predecessors. A spring chicken he is not, but the avant-garde approach to life is evident. Granted, that attitude has landed him in hot water several times. They say that nothing ventured is nothing gained though, don’t they?

Playing Yannick Bolasie in the number 10 role at Sunderland was hardly an innovation of Phileas Fogg-like proportions. But it was daring, clever, and, significantly, it worked. A statistic that Newcastle fans enjoy bandying around is the one which shows the severity of some of their team’s defeats under Pardew. They got tonked a fair few times, and the boss was always the one to bear the brunt of the Toon Army’s ire. But the numbers didn’t tell the truth. Pardew wasn’t able to call on a brilliant squad, yet overall did a sterling job in Tyneside.

With new tools at his disposal, and fans who know and love him, Pardew has the right building blocks to construct success. The streamlined silver fox has already started to purr, his SE25 revolution in full swing. To be honest, this man could make pretty much anything look cool. For Palace’s sake, let’s hope that losing isn’t one of those things.

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Nadim Lilani

Nadim Lilani

Nadim Lilani is a recent Hispanic Studies graduate from the University of Birmingham. A keen football fan and writer, he enjoys expressing his love for Croydon by documenting all things sport in south London.

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