Tag Archives: FA

Premier League Rewind: 2nd-3rd April 1999

Results: Aston Villa 0-0 West Ham United, Blackburn Rovers 0-0 Middlesbrough, Charlton Athletic 0-1 Chelsea, Derby County 3-4 Newcastle United, Leeds United 3-1 Nottingham Forest, Liverpool FC 3-2 Everton, Sheffield Wednesday 1-2 Coventry City, Southampton 0-0 Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur 0-2 Leicester City, Wimbledon 1-1 Manchester United

The three-way title battle in the 1998-1999 Premier League season closed up further after this weekend of action which ended with just five points covering Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea.

The Red Devils were still busy chasing ‘The Treble’ and experiencing a careless moment at Selhurst Park where an error by Gary Neville allowed Jason Euell to put Wimbledon infront after only five minutes. David Beckham equalised to earn the visitors a point that kept them top of the table.

That was because second-placed Arsenal were unable to breakdown a stubborn Southampton side at The Dell. The Saints were still scrapping for points themselves to keep their top-flight status and frustrated Arsene Wenger’s side in a nervy match which saw defenders finish completely dominant over attackers.

This meant Chelsea could close in further and their fourth win in five games arrived in a London Derby against another team needing points at the wrong end of the table in Charlton Athletic. It was the softest of goals that won the game for the Blues at The Valley. Charlton goalkeeper Sasa Ilic failed to judge a cross correctly and Roberto Di Matteo had a simple finish in the 11th minute. Chelsea were now just a point behind Arsenal in the table and had a game in-hand on the reigning champions too.

Fourth-placed Leeds United maintained their winning sequence, equalling a mark set by Don Revie’s all-conquering side in the 1970s. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink continued his quest for the Golden Boot, powering Leeds into a 43rd minute lead against bottom club Nottingham Forest. Further goals from Ian Harte and Alan Smith helped Leeds to a 3-1 victory which saw them stretch 10 points clear of the chasing pack. Forest had Carlton Palmer sent off and were now 11 points adrift of safety. Relegation was virtually guaranteed for the club for the third time in their Premier League history.

Another manager feeling the pressure was Walter Smith. In his first season as Everton manager, he was experiencing the pressures of a relegation dogfight for the first time after his glowing success in Scottish football with Rangers. Despite Olivier Dacourt’s spectacular strike in the opening minute at Anfield, Everton lost the latest edition of The Merseyside Derby 3-2 to Liverpool FC, leaving the Toffees in 17th place and only one point clear of the relegation zone. Liverpool’s win was overshadowed by Robbie Fowler’s controversial goal celebration after he scored a penalty. He used the white line of the penalty area to simulate cocaine use. The FA took a dim view, fining him £32,000 and gave him a six-match ban for this incident and another episode earlier in the season with Chelsea defender Graeme Le Saux which had seen the striker wave his backside in Le Saux’s direction. Liverpool fined the player too for bringing the game into disrepute.

Elsewhere, Derby County’s European hopes took a knock when they lost a goal-filled match with Newcastle United. Five goals were scored in the first half with Gary Speed getting two of them and the Magpies eventually prevailed 4-3 winners with the decisive goal coming from Nolberto Solano. There was also some personal joy for Leicester City forward Tony Cottee. He scored the 200th goal of his professional career in the Foxes’ 2-0 victory at White Hart Lane as Leicester exacted some quick revenge for their League Cup final defeat to Tottenham 13 days earlier.

What else happened in April 1999?

  • British television is left in mourning when popular presenter, Jill Dando is shot dead on the doorstep of her home in Fulham, west London.
  • David Copeland plants three nail bombs in three weeks across the capital. The third in The Admiral Duncan pub in Soho kills a pregnant woman and injures 70 others.
  • Two teenagers open fire in Colorado in the Columbine High School massacre. 12 students and 1 teacher are killed, before they kill themselves.
  • Former EastEnders actress Martine McCutcheon reaches number one in the UK Singles Chart with her debut single,“Perfect Moment”
  • A minimum wage is introduced in the UK for the first time, set at £3.60 an hour for workers over 21 and £3 for workers under 21.
  • The UN suspends sanctions against Libya after two Libyans suspected of being behind the Lockerbie bombing of 1988 are handed over to Scottish authorities for trial in The Hague.
  • BSkyB Chief Executive Mark Booth announces his resignation after 18 months in the role.
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Referees in the Middle: Allan Gunn

Premier League Career: 1992-1994

First Premier League Match: Arsenal 2-4 Norwich City (15 August 1992)

Final Premier League Match: Tottenham Hotspur 1-2 Queens Park Rangers (7 May 1994)

Allan Gunn was the first-ever referee to officiate in the Premier League past his 50th birthday. He was 51 when he took charge of Queens Park Rangers’ 2-1 victory over Tottenham Hotspur on the final day of the 1993-1994 season. It was his last match before retirement.

Based in Sussex during his time as a referee, Gunn became a Football League linesman in 1974 and within three years, he had been promoted to the full Referees List. His mentor throughout the early years of his refereeing career was Alan Robinson and he was senior linesman for Robinson during the all-Merseyside Derby FA Cup final in 1986. Robinson retired that summer and Gunn stepped up to replace him on both the FIFA list and the possession of some key domestic games.

Allan’s first major showpiece event was the Associate Members’ Cup final in 1987 between Mansfield Town and Bristol City. This was the first cup final in England where the outcome was settled by a penalty shootout. Two years later, he was given the Full Members’ Cup final which was a short-lived competition between the clubs from the top two divisions whilst English clubs were banned from participating in Europe. Later that summer, he controlled the Charity Shield between Arsenal and Liverpool FC and in 1990, it was his opportunity to referee the FA Cup final.

Crystal Palace played Manchester United in the final and the first game was a thrilling 3-3 draw before the Red Devils won a low-key replay 1-0 to give Alex Ferguson his first major honour as United manager. Whilst his career in England flourished, he never quite achieved the upper echelons of the international spectrum. His highest-profile appointment was a World Cup qualifier between Portugal and Switzerland in April 1989. Portugal won the match 3-1 but neither side qualified for the finals in Italia 90.

Originally, Gunn was due to retire in 1991 but his high levels of performance meant he was granted an extension and allowed to continue refereeing. He did stand down from the FIFA list but continued to play his part in English officiating. In 1993, he took charge of his final major final which was Arsenal’s 2-1 victory over Sheffield Wednesday in the League Cup final.

Early in 1994, he announced he was going to retire at the age of 51 after a 17-year career on the Referees List. In total, he took control of 37 Premier League matches, handing out 38 yellow cards at almost 1 booking per game. Also, he didn’t give out a red card during his two-season spell as a Premier League referee.

In 2000, he accepted an offer from the FA to become a member of a 12-person video panel that would review match events and disciplinary matters. These involved former referees, players and managers who were no longer connected directly within the game. This meant he worked alongside the likes of former Premier League managers Roy Evans and Mike Walker, plus ex-official Gary Willard. Each week, three of the 12 personnel would look at incidents around the country and would then make recommendations on what course of action should be taken through communication with Adam Crozier, who was FA chief executive at the time. One example of an amendment change came when Gary McAllister’s red card was rescinded at Highbury in 2000 during his early days as a Liverpool FC player.

Allan Gunn died aged 60 on 27th May 2004.

Premier League Files: Matt Elliott

Premier League Career: Leicester City (1997-2002, 2003-2004)

22 goals from 199 Premier League appearances make Matt Elliott one of the leading defensive goalscorers in Premier League history. He had an uncanny habit of causing havoc for opposing centre-backs. In 1997-1998, he was the top scoring defender in the league, scoring seven times as Leicester City finished in the top 10 for four successive campaigns under Martin O’Neill’s stewardship.

He will be a Foxes hero forever for his contribution to their League Cup triumphHe said in 2000 which was Leicester’s final major honour until their shock Premier League title success of 2016. Elliott’s first taste of professional football came with Charlton Athletic in the late 1980s but he was unable to break into their first-team setup on a regular basis. Over the next eight years, he began to work his way up the Football League ladder, becoming a pivotal player for Torquay United, Scunthorpe United and Oxford United.

In early 1997, O’Neill decided to invest in Elliott to help Leicester’s defensive record. He joined the Midlands club for £1.6 million which remained a record sale for Oxford for 19 years until Kemar Roofe’s transfer to Leeds United in 2016.

He became a mainstay in the Leicester squad for several seasons and in 2000, had his finest hour at Wembley Stadium against Tranmere Rovers in the League Cup final. Having missed out on Leicester’s 1997 victory because he was cup-tied, he skippered them to this final for the second successive season. 12 months earlier, it had been agony for Matt as Leicester lost a dire final to Tottenham Hotspur in stoppage-time. This time round, he wasn’t going to be denied.

Elliott scored two headers to power Leicester to a 2-1 victory over the First Division side.

He became synomous with a uncompromising attitude towards the game and this led to several incidents with attackers, including Michael Owen and David Thompson. This led to a few suspensions from the FA for incidents such as flying elbows and deliberate fouls. In the summer of 2000, O’Neill left Leicester to take the vacancy at Glasgow giants Celtic. He managed to prize Steve Guppy and Neil Lennon away from Filbert Street and tried to tempt Matt to come with him to Parkhead. Celtic made a £3.5 million bid which was rejected by Leicester. Elliott pledged his loyalty to the club by signing a new contract.

In his final two Premier League seasons, Leicester suffered the indignity of two relegations and after a knee injury in his final campaign; he retired from football in January 2005. He said: “I can take away so many wonderful memories of my time here and the club will always hold a special place in my heart.” He won 18 international caps for Scotland and was part of their squad for the 1998 World Cup finals in France, although he didn’t make an appearance in the competition.

After some coaching in the non-league with Hednesford Town and Stafford Rangers, he had a six-month spell as manager of Army United, an affiliate club of Leicester City who were playing in the Thailand Premier League.

In August 2014, he took a role as a football analyst for BBC Radio Leicester and also is a first-team coach for the men’s and women’s football sides at De Montfort University.

Referees in the Middle: Philip Don

Premier League Career: 1992-1995

First Premier League Match: Sheffield Wednesday 2-0 Nottingham Forest (19 August 1992)

Final Premier League Match: Blackburn Rovers 1-0 Newcastle United (8 May 1995)

Former school headteacher Philip Don was one of the Premier League’s stricter referees during its early inception. He wouldn’t take any verbal jousting from players and despite some notable achievements, his approach to the game after retirement from the middle in 1995 led to conflicts with other officials.

Originally from Sheffield, Don’s teaching career took him to Middlesex and this came at a time when referees were not considered to be a full-time occupation. By the age of 28, he had become a Football League linesman and became a referee in the top-flight in 1986.

He was promoted to the FIFA list in 1992 and his progress meant Philip often got the top matches or the most intensely scrutinised games in the Football League. In the same year, he took charge of the FA Cup final as Liverpool FC defeated Second Division Sunderland 2-0 at Wembley Stadium in what turned out to be Graeme Souness’ only honour as Reds manager.

Don got an even bigger milestone in 1994 when despite only having two years’ experience at international level; he was awarded the UEFA Champions League final. Dutchman John Blankenstein was initially the chosen individual to take charge of the showpiece in European club football which would take place in Athens that season between AC Milan and Barcelona. When he withdrew, Don stepped in and coped brilliantly in such an intimidating atmosphere. AC Milan didn’t mind the appointment, as they put in a riveting display to defeat Johan Cruyff’s team of superstars 4-0.

A few weeks later, he was England’s representative at the World Cup finals in the United States. With the national team having failed to qualify, Don was one of only a few Englishmen to be at the tournament (alongside coaches Jack Charlton and Roy Hodgson). He got two matches in the finals, which included Sweden’s penalty shootout triumph in the quarter-finals against Romania.

The 1994-1995 season would be his last, retiring five years earlier than he needed to. With full-time refereeing still a while away, he had to make a choice and his commitments as a headteacher meant the final whistle was blown on his refereeing career earlier than what many would have anticipated. In his final campaign, he took charge of the 1995 League Cup final between Bolton Wanderers and Liverpool FC.

Whilst teaching was his main passion, Philip was keen to change the way referees earned their living. He became Head of Refereeing at The FA towards the end of the 1990s and was the main man behind the new Select Group in 2001 which allowed referees to turn professional full-time and give up their other commitments. His persuasion and determination to ensure the job became a full-time role deserves widespread praise. It has made life easier for many upcoming youngsters. However, not everyone was happy with the change.

David Elleray, who had his own teaching career at Harrow preferred to maintain this and not turn professional leading to a series of disagreements with Don. His hard-line guidelines such as goalkeepers not being allowed to move off the goal-line during a penalty situation didn’t go down well with many officials. An example of this came in September 2003 when Leeds United goalkeeper Paul Robinson made a brilliant save against Birmingham City. However, for moving an inch off his line, the penalty was retaken and Birmingham scored from the second opportunity. Dermot Gallagher who gave the controversial decision looked uneasy when surrounded by Leeds players. He was following Don’s guidelines but it was clear he wasn’t comfortable with them. Don was eventually replaced in his role as Head of Refereeing by Keith Hackett with the general feeling that he’d gone as far as possible in the job.

He might have only taken charge of 60 Premier League matches but Philip Don was an outstanding referee and had it not been for him, referees might not have ever had the option to go full-time. However, his authoritative approach to the game wasn’t always appreciated by his fellow compatriots.

Premier League Rewind: 26th December 2004

Results: Arsenal 2-0 Fulham, Chelsea 1-0 Aston Villa, Crystal Palace 0-1 Portsmouth, Southampton 0-0 Charlton Athletic, Blackburn Rovers 2-2 Newcastle United, Everton 2-1 Manchester City, Manchester United 2-0 Bolton Wanderers, Norwich City 0-2 Tottenham Hotspur, Birmingham City 2-0 Middlesbrough, West Bromwich Albion 0-5 Liverpool FC

The festive period in the Premier League has always been a joyous period for fans and on Boxing Day 2004, the action was as intense as ever.

Chelsea were the league leaders and were looking to protect or even increase their five-point advantage over the defending champions Arsenal. The Blues beat Aston Villa 1-0 on a cold lunchtime afternoon at Stamford Bridge. Damien Duff’s strike after 30 minutes was enough to keep Jose Mourinho’s team clear at the top of the table. Villa had now lost four of their last five outings and slipped into the realms of mid-table after a promising start to the campaign.

Arsenal kept the pressure on, digging in after a tricky November which had seen them drop points against Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion and lose at Anfield to Liverpool FC. Thierry Henry opened the scoring in the 12th minute of their 2-0 victory over Fulham and Robert Pires added a second with both goals being set-up by Freddie Ljungberg. Fulham had lost 11 of their 18 league matches and were just four points clear of the relegation zone.

Considered as one of the relegation favourites at the start of the season, Everton had already reached the usual magical safety mark of 40 points when they defeated Manchester City 2-1. Tim Cahill scored for the second time in the season against the Citizens and although Robbie Fowler equalised on his return to Merseyside, Marcus Bent’s 63rd minute strike settled the contest. City’s defeat was confirmed by Christian Negouai’s late red card.

The team with no form whatsoever at this stage in the season were Bolton Wanderers. Since drawing at Stamford Bridge, Bolton went on a six-game losing streak. The fifth of these came at Old Trafford where Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes both scored in a 2-0 victory for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side. The only negative on the afternoon for United was Wayne Rooney being caught on-camera striking out at Bolton defender Tal Ben-Haim. Whilst there was a clear overreaction to the contact from the Israeli defender, Rooney was charged with violent conduct and eventually banned for three matches. Ferguson was livid with the charge, even though the club accepted his fate. He said the FA’s disciplinary system was “completely flawed” and “immoral.”

If Ferguson was annoyed, his former skipper, Bryan Robson was having a very tough Christmas. West Bromwich Albion were bottom of the table and had lost their last four games. With just one win all season, Baggies supporters were getting the sense of déjà vu. Relegation was looking likely if you went with history and a 5-0 home battering from Liverpool FC on Boxing Day made the situation even worse. Liverpool had only won once all season away from Anfield but took full advantage of the situation to record their biggest victory since Rafa Benitez became manager. John Arne Riise was the star with two goals and Florent Sinama-Pongolle scored his first Premier League goal in a full calendar year.

What else happened in December 2004?

  • The world is left stunned by the devastating Asian tsunami that strikes coastal areas of Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand and the Maldives. This was triggered by an earthquake within the Indian Ocean. Over 200,000 people are killed.
  • After nearly four years in the role, David Blunkett resigns as Home Secretary.
  • £26.5 million is stolen from a Northern Bank in Belfast after one of the biggest robberies in modern day Britain.
  • Double Olympic gold medallist Kelly Holmes is named as the 2004 BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
  • The first series of ‘The X-Factor’ concludes with victory for Steve Brookstein.
  • 194 people are killed after a fire in a nightclub in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
  • France shows off the world’s tallest bridge. The Millau Viaduct is officially opened.

The Managers: Alan Pardew

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.

Charlton woe

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.

Crazy moments

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.

Referees in the Middle: Rob Styles

Premier League Career: 2000-2009

First Premier League Match: West Ham United 0-1 Leicester City (23 August 2000)

Final Premier League Match: Chelsea 2-0 Blackburn Rovers (17 May 2009)

In nine seasons of top-flight officiating, Rob Styles took charge of 212 Premier League matches. He was one of the most controversial officials in the Premier League era and never shied away from annoying supporters and managers with some of his key decisions.

Styles began refereeing in 1987 and nine years later, was appointed to the National list. He started to make his breakthrough at the start of the millennium, taking charge of the Second Division play-off final between Gillingham and Wigan Athletic. He was also the fourth official in 2000 at both the FA Trophy and LDV Vans Trophy finals.

In the same year, he was promoted to the Premier League officiating list and his first game came in the second round of matches in the 2000-2001 season. For the record, Darren Eadie scored the only goal as Leicester City won 1-0 at Upton Park against West Ham United. In the same game, West Ham’s Igor Stimac was sent off.

He became a FIFA referee in 2002 and three years later, was in-charge for the 2005 FA Cup final between Arsenal and Manchester United. He sent off Jose Antonio Reyes in the closing stages of extra-time before the match went to penalties, won ultimately by Arsenal.

Based in Waterlooville, Styles showed the yellow card to offending players a whopping 689 times. He gave 57 penalties, including 11 in the 2007-2008 campaign alone. The lowest moment of his career came in August 2007 when he put in a comical display at Anfield. He awarded Chelsea a penalty in the second half when adjudging Steve Finnan had fouled Florent Malouda, even though the ball was nowhere near Malouda and replays showed no contact between the players. Frank Lampard converted the spot-kick, earning Chelsea a point and leaving Liverpool FC manager Rafa Benitez generally baffled by the decision.

He booked nine players on that afternoon and was at the centre of another talking point when he appeared to show a yellow card to both John Terry and Michael Essien, who had been cautioned earlier in the match. He later clarified that only Terry was booked in the incident (shown below).

Liverpool FC captain Steven Gerrard piled the pressure on the embattled ref afterwards, telling the Evening Standard: “The referee didn’t play well. There was a lot of pressure from the Chelsea players and I thought he eventually cracked. I hope he apologises. When players make mistakes they have to come out and say sorry so we’ll see what he has to say.”

Styles later telephoned Benitez to apologise for his cock-up but Keith Hackett confirmed shortly afterwards that he would be dropped for the next round of Premier League matches. Ultimately, it would be the beginning of the end for his career.

In January 2009, he dismissed West Bromwich Albion’s Paul Robinson against Manchester United in a game where the visitors’ cruised to a 5-0 victory. However, the FA elected to rescind the red card given in the match for a challenge on Ji-Sung Park. He felt any support from the governing body was gone after this escapade and although he carried on until the end of the season, the zest was gone.

In the summer of 2009, Styles decided enough was enough and quit refereeing. Graham Poll wrote in his Daily Mail column: “He cared deeply about his refereeing; dedicating himself to serving the game he loves. However, the fact that the majority of the football-watching public will merely shrug their shoulders in indifference at this news or say ‘Good’ proves the lack of understanding of the modern referee.”