Premier League Clubs Managed: West Ham United (2005-2006), Newcastle United (2010-2014), Crystal Palace (2015-2016), West Bromwich Albion (2017-2018)
Life has been very tough of late for Alan Pardew. The 2012 LMA Manager of the Year hasn’t been able to arrest the slide at West Bromwich Albion and the Baggies’ relegation looks set to be confirmed in the coming weeks. A run of eight successive defeats saw him part company with the club in April 2018.
Pardew has attracted headlines for the wrong reasons and got himself into trouble with the senior authorities on a number of occasions. He is a confident manager who has always believed he can turn around difficult outcomes. He’s often been able to string together a lengthy run of successive victories but at the same time, can be in control of teams who go on worrying runs of consecutive losses too.
His best achievements as a player and manager have been to reach the FA Cup final three times. However, it has been a case of three times unlucky as he has lost on all occasions.
Wonderful winner against mighty Liverpool
Born in the Wimbledon area of London, Pardew started his career as a part-time player in non-league football whilst working as a glazier. His most prolific spell came with Crystal Palace. He joined them in 1987 for a fee of just £7,500. Two years later, he helped them win promotion to the First Division and in 1990, came the greatest moment of his career.
The midfielder scored the winning goal in extra-time of a fantastic FA Cup semi-final against mighty Liverpool FC at Villa Park. The Eagles won 4-3, just seven months after losing 9-0 to the same opposition in a league fixture at Anfield. They were through to the final where they played Manchester United. Despite leading, the game ended in a 3-3 draw and Alex Ferguson’s side won the replay to earn their first major honour as a partnership.
In 1991, Crystal Palace finished a surprising but deserving third in the First Division table before Pardew moved to Charlton Athletic in November 1991. He was the Addicks top goalscorer in the 1992-1993 season with 10 goals and was part of the squad that made a triumphant return to The Valley after several seasons playing at neutral venues across the capital.
He played four times for Tottenham Hotspur during the 1995 UEFA Intertoto Cup, being part of a squad that lost 8-0 to German side 1. FC Köln which remains the club’s heaviest-ever defeat. After a spell with Barnet, he ended his playing career on the books of Reading in 1998, although he never played a first-team game for the Berkshire outfit.
A controversial departure
It would be Reading where Alan would make his first steps as a manager, taking over in a couple of caretaker spells before getting the job permanently in 1999. Reading were toiling in the Second Division at the time and often fighting off relegation but he managed to guide them to serial play-off contenders during his time with the Royals. The likes of Jamie Cureton flourished under his management and in 2002; he won promotion to the First Division automatically.
There were no issues with stepping up to a higher level. In his maiden season as a boss in the second-tier, Pardew’s Reading side finished a stellar fourth but were beaten in the play-offs by Wolverhampton Wanderers. His impressive time with the club attracted the interest of West Ham United and it would be a controversial departure too.
In September 2003, West Ham approached Reading for permission to speak to Alan. Reading rightly refused but Pardew decided to force the hand by tendering his resignation. A compromise was eventually reached and he would take over at Upton Park but it was a sour ending to an excellent first job in management.
Denied by Gerrard
Having been relegated from the Premier League on the final day of the 2002-2003 campaign, West Ham United were firm favourites to make an instant return but the going was much tougher than anticipated. The Hammers had to settle for a place in the play-offs as Norwich City and West Bromwich Albion won the two automatic promotion spots. The play-offs ended in defeat in the final to his old club Crystal Palace.
The 2004-2005 season was just as hard proving that no matter how talented your squad is, getting out of the Championship is very tricky. Yet again, West Ham had to settle for a spot in the play-offs. Pardew was coming under scrutiny from some sections of the Boleyn Ground faithful and failure again would probably cost him his job. This time he prevailed, as Bobby Zamora’s strike defeated Preston North End 1-0 in the final. After two seasons in the wilderness, West Ham were back in the Premier League party.
Their first season back was very impressive. Pardew’s side always posed a threat on the counter-attack and played some enjoyable content which pleased the supporters. They finished ninth in the Premier League and beat Tottenham Hotspur on the final day of the season to deny Spurs a chance in the Champions League. There was also a 3-2 success on the club’s final trip to Highbury – Arsenal’s iconic ground.
The main highlight though was a run to the FA Cup final with the likes of Bolton Wanderers, Manchester City and Middlesbrough being defeated on the road to Cardiff. In the final cup final to be played in the Welsh capital, West Ham took on red-hot favourites Liverpool FC and came within a few moments of winning the cup for the first time in 26 years. They led 2-0 and 3-2 but Pardew was to be denied by Steven Gerrard’s stoppage-time heroics with an exhilarating equaliser. Liverpool would win the penalty shootout leaving the Londoners heartbroken.
It felt like the cup defeat had a negative effect on the dressing room dynamics and despite signing world stars Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano, West Ham went on an alarming run of defeats which was their worst run in 70 years. This included a shock League Cup exit at the hands of Chesterfield and UEFA Cup failure at the first hurdle to Palermo.
The new Icelandic owners gave their public backing but a horrible performance and 4-0 loss to Bolton Wanderers in mid-December was the final straw. Pardew was sacked two days later but he would be back in management just over two weeks after this axing.
On Christmas Eve 2006, Pardew returned to Charlton Athletic, succeeding Les Reed in the job. The Addicks were in the bottom three and struggling to maintain their grip on their Premier League status. Pardew’s first match nearly drew instant success late equaliser from Fulham in controversial circumstances. It would be the story of his reign at The Valley.
Charlton’s form improved, including a 4-0 victory over his former employers in February but it wasn’t enough to avoid the drop. A 2-0 loss to Tottenham Hotspur in the club’s final home match of the season saw Charlton’s seven-season stay in the top-flight come to a sudden end.
The spark seemed to have gone from Pardew. He couldn’t motivate the club to a sustained push for an instant return to the Premier League. Charlton finished a distant 11th in the Championship in 2007-2008 and after slipping into the bottom three of that division in November 2008, he parted company with the club by mutual consent.
His next role was down in League One as he tried to revive Southampton’s fortunes. Despite a points deduction for entering administration, he did bring in plenty of firepower with the likes of Lee Barnard and Rickie Lambert arriving on the south coast. Southampton did win the Football League trophy under his stewardship in April 2010 but with low morale within the staff, he was sacked five months later by owner Nicola Cortese.
It looked like his top-flight days were numbered until Newcastle United came calling.
Defying the critics
In December 2010, Chris Hughton was dismissed as Newcastle United manager and three days after his departure, Pardew was confirmed as his successor. Many Magpies supporters did not want him as their manager and a poll on the Sky Sports website confirmed this. He received just 5.5% backing.
He won his first match in-charge though, defeating Liverpool FC 3-1 and was manager when Newcastle produced one of the greatest comebacks in Premier League history, storming back from 4-0 down at half-time to draw 4-4 with Arsenal in February 2011.
Newcastle finished 12th in 2010-2011 and that summer; they recruited very well, using contacts from France to bring in the likes of Yohan Cabaye, Sylvain Marveaux and on a free transfer from West Ham United, Demba Ba. Ba’s goals in the first half of the season, combined with a solid defensive line-up and the qualities of Cabaye meant he would defy the critics throughout the 2011-2012 season.
Newcastle remained unbeaten until mid-November and were a fixture in the top seven all season. The January arrival of Papiss Cisse from Sport-Club Freiburg added more firepower to the striking ranks and the club enjoyed their best season since Sir Bobby Robson’s final full term in 2004. The Magpies were in the mix for a UEFA Champions League qualification place until the final day when defeat at Everton ensured they’d miss out on a top-three spot. Nevertheless, fifth place in the final table, ahead of Chelsea and Liverpool FC was a stunning achievement. Pardew’s work was recognised and he was awarded LMA Manager of the Year honours.
In September 2012, he signed an eight-year contract extension but the 2012-2013 season was a major disappointment. Newcastle finished 16th in the table and suffered some damaging defeats, including a heavy 3-0 loss to local rivals Sunderland in April 2013. They did reach a UEFA Europa League quarter-final before losing to Benfica.
The 2013-2014 campaign went better and Alan won the Manager of the Month award for November after four successive victories. The club won at Old Trafford in December and sat sixth in the table going into Christmas. However, Cabaye was sold to Paris Saint-Germain in January and he got into hot water twice in quick succession which put his position in severe jeopardy.
First, he was caught by television cameras using foul and abusive language towards Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini during a 2-0 home loss in January. Two months later, he was sent to the stands after head-butting Hull City’s David Meyler following a touchline confrontation. It was an extraordinary incident which saw him fined £160,000 combined by the FA and his own club and given a seven-match ban, three of these games saw him barred from entering the stadium.
There was a tumultuous start to the 2014-2015 season and the relationship between manager and supporters seemed to be at an all-time low. Newcastle sank to bottom in the Premier League after four games and disgruntled fans set-up a website called SackPardew.com in an effort to convince Mike Ashley to dispense with his services. He survived this storm and a run of five successive victories saw the club rocket up the table from 20th to 5th. However, there was always a feeling in the closing weeks of his reign on Tyneside that his time was coming to an end.
After not fulfilling media commitments following a 3-2 home victory against Everton, speculation grew on whether Pardew would leave Newcastle to take the vacancy at Crystal Palace. Two days later, compensation was agreed between the two clubs and Alan was leaving the north east behind to return to a club that was still dear to his heart.
A sound start at Selhurst
When Pardew took over at Selhurst Park, Crystal Palace were in the relegation zone but immediately showed a revival in fortunes. In his first match in-charge, Palace beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 and would beat both Manchester City and Liverpool FC before the season’s end. Crystal Palace finished the 2014-2015 campaign in 10th place which remains their best-ever Premier League finish. In doing so, he became the first manager to take over a side in the drop zone and guide them to a top-half finish.
It was a sound start and the first half of the 2015-2016 campaign went swimmingly too, helped by acquiring Cabaye again after he fell out of favour at Paris Saint-Germain. After 19 games, Palace sat in fifth position and looked set to launch a serious challenge for a European spot in the most unpredictable Premier League season.
However, a dismal run followed. Crystal Palace went 14 league games without a victory and plummeted down the table into the bottom five. Late season victories over Norwich City and Stoke City removed any late threat of a relegation battle but finishing 15th at the end of the season was not what anyone hoped for. Alan’s salvation was another excellent run in the FA Cup and another final which ended in another agonising defeat. Manchester United came from behind to defeat the Eagles 2-1 after extra-time in the Wembley showpiece. It was the third time he’d experience FA Cup final heartache as a player/manager.
The poor league form continued throughout the first half of the 2016-2017 season. Despite a three-game winning sequence in September that did have them briefly upto seventh and above eventual champions Chelsea, another dire sequence of results followed. One win in 11 saw the south Londoners slip down to 17th in the table and a few days before Christmas 2016, Pardew was sacked after a 1-0 loss to Chelsea.
After a stint working as a TV pundit for Sky Sports, Pardew returned to the managerial dugout at West Bromwich Albion in November 2017. He replaced Tony Pulis at the helm but his record was nothing short of disastrous. He won just three matches in all competitions from 20 games, earning him a grim win ratio rate of just 15%. West Brom won only once in the Premier League during his reign – a 2-0 success over Brighton & Hove Albion in January and a run of eight successive losses means relegation from the Premier League at the end of the campaign is now just a mere formality. In early April, he parted company with the Baggies by mutual consent.
Alan Pardew has always tried to play football the right way and encourage an expansive style but his recent spells in management since leaving Newcastle United haven’t gone to plan. With the nightmare he has recently experienced at West Bromwich Albion, it is more likely he will be a TV pundit than a manager in future seasons to come.