One of the biggest stories at the start of 2015 has been the managerial carousel, which saw three Premier League clubs change manager within a week of each other. Perhaps the most talked about appointment, though, saw former Hammers boss Alan Pardew step down from his job at Newcastle to take over at Crystal Palace. At a glance, Pardew’s arrival at Selhurst Park appears to be a great move for all three parties involved but, after digging a little deeper, it might not work out quite as smoothly as the majority are predicting.
Newcastle owner Mike Ashley will naturally be thrilled at the way things have turned out. The Magpies chief had reportedly been at loggerheads with Pardew on a number of occasions over the past 18 months but an eight-year contract essentially ruled out any potential sacking, as the payout would have been astronomical.
This move not only eradicated that problem, it additionally brought in a compensation fee from the Eagles. A win-win situation for the Tynesiders. Or is it? The one thing Pardew did offer the Magpies was Premier League stability. Prior to making his departure from St James’ Park, the 53-year-old had been the division’s longest-serving manager behind only Arsene Wenger.
He had safely guided the Magpies to survival for four straight seasons and even led the club to European football for the first time in over half a decade and became the first Englishman to be named LMA and Premier League Manager of the Year in the same season. Pardew’s tenure at Newcastle was troubled by frustrations from supporters and the board but ultimately he did a decent job at St James’ Park.
The club may harbour aspirations of reaching the pinnacle once more but it has been 60 years since they last lifted a major domestic honour and perhaps mid-table obscurity is the ceiling for the Magpies right now, regardless of their huge and passionate fanbase. In all honesty, there is only one way for the club to travel post-Pardew — backwards. That won’t please the owner or the fans.
As for Crystal Palace, the timing makes it a huge risk. With the transfer window being open until the end of January, the Eagles must give Pardew funds to invest but that could potentially bring major consequences. Pardew may have ideas about how to improve the Eagles squad but he hasn’t had nearly enough time to assess the situation so will have to go with gut instinct rather than making calculated decisions.
Unfortunately, he has inherited a club residing in the lower reaches of the Premier League; therefore, if he gets it wrong, the club will be plying their trade in the Championship next term. The financial situation at Selhurst Park has been well documented over the past few years and relegation simply isn’t an answer, particularly if the club are to spend money during this transfer window. If they were to get relegated, it could be a long way back for the Eagles — just ask any Blackpool supporter.
Should Pardew guide Palace to safety, it will inevitably be heralded as a masterful appointment by Steve Parish and the other owners. However, they’d still be left with an individual who has the tendency to bring bad headlines to a club. The former Hammers boss has been entangled in more than his fair share of controversy over the years with headbutts, derogatory comments, and overzealous reactions to match officials all tarnishing his reputation in recent times. Right now, Palace aren’t in a position where they can afford to be affected by disequilibrium. Unfortunately, Pardew can be a loose cannon.
As for the manager himself, staving off the threat of relegation is a massive challenge. He took on a not too dissimilar role with Charlton back in 2006- 07, where he was also appointed around this stage of the season, but was unable to inspire the Addicks to survival. Another relegation would only harm his reputation, especially after what Tony Pulis achieved.
Aside from the fact he has an affiliation with the club from his playing days, this could be considered a backwards step for the former Newcastle boss, and it is hard to see how the move can really further his managerial career. At the same time, the owners must feel some apprehension about the gamble and will be aware that Pardew has fallen out of favour at several of his previous jobs, which can’t be coincidental.
Pardew will understandably be relieved to end his turbulent reign at Newcastle, whilst both clubs will also be happy with the outcome, and entered his first press conference looking like a cat that just got his milk. It might not be long before that milk turns sour.