After a shaky start to the season at St James’ Park, Alan Pardew managed to miraculously turn Newcastle’s bad fortune around before Christmas, having been consistently in the line of fire in the North East. It was this abuse which sparked Pardew’s return to his native London, where he joined up with the club that he made 128 appearances for, replacing Neil Warnock as Crystal Palace manager in early January. This was the first managerial exchange of the Premier League season and a move which at the time seemed best for both parties.
Pardew has endured stick from the Toon Army ever since he took over in 2010. Game after game Newcastle fans made their contempt for Pardew well known, whether they had won, lost or drawn. There was never a time at Newcastle when he seemed happy at the club, and the fans were happy with him. The relationship that is supposed to work both ways never even worked one way.
This season didn’t start off any better for him. Without a win in their first seven, things weren’t looking like improving soon for Alan Pardew. This, however, was followed by a 5 game consecutive win streak, which henceforth rocketed the magpies from the relegation zone up to fifth in the table – this exceptional form didn’t win over his Newcastle haters, meaning he was facing an impossible job to please his fans.
As Newcastle’s form settled, Pardew didn’t. He didn’t seem at home at St James’ Park – often snappy with press and always gloomy in the dugout- this was shown at the KC stadium, where he let his emotions get the better of him, resulting in that infamous headbutt. Soon it became evident that it was only a matter of time before he departed.
When Neil Warnock lost his job at Palace just days after Christmas, Pardew was soon linked. At the time, Newcastle fans wanted Pardew out, and the feeling worked both ways. He made the move shortly after New Years, and he finally seemed himself. He was managing a team where the fans were behind him, and they needed him. Crystal Palace needed Pardew, and in fact Pardew needed Palace.
It wasn’t just off the pitch that was affected by Pardew’s arrival at Selhurst Park. On the pitch, Pardew led Palace to a run that can be likened to the run he led Newcastle towards the back end of last year. 8 wins in his first 12 games for Palace has shot them up to tenth in the table and are now a side that look unstoppable in the Premier League.
If there was a ‘Pardew United’ in the Premier League this season, then they would be sitting in eighth place. There have been many calls for Pardew to be given the manager of the year award for his astounding work at Crystal Palace, transforming them from relegation candidates to a secure mid-table side in a matter of months.
This season, Newcastle and Palace have both benefitted hugely from their reign under him. At Newcastle, he managed 27 points in 20 games in charge. His goal difference was -6, compared to their record under John Carver, -10. Their pass accuracy was better under Pardew, at 79% beating his counterpart by 2%. Shot accuracy was also better with Pardew, at 43%, again beating Carver by 2%. These two statistics both showed that Pardew’s Newcastle possessed that bit more confidence both in front of goal and when passing the ball around. Pardew’s side were evidently a lot more confident when taking chances too. Both managers created an average of 8.7 chances per game, but Pardew scored 1.25 goals per game, whilst Carver’s men only managed to put away 0.73 per match.
After his move to Palace, he’s managed a superb goal difference of +9 compared to Neil Warnock’s -10 at Palace – a startling change. In just 11 games in charge, Pardew’s Palace have scored 22 goals, 2 more than they managed under Warnock after 20 games in the league. Pardew has not only scored more goals than Warnock’s side, but has already earned 8 more points. Warnock won 17 points, but Pardew has smashed this with 25 points. They now have an average of 48% possession per game, compared to 43% before. Under Warnock, he only managed to dominate a game on one occasion in 20 attempts – achieving 51% possession in a 3-1 defeat to Sunderland earlier in the season. Palace have also had a shorter average pass length since Pardew’s arrival- suggesting more long balls were played in Warnock’s reign. Many have been taken aback by Palace’s attacking penetration in recent games – and this is shown by an average of 9.6 chances per game being created under Pardew – whereas only 8.1 were created before.
Stats aside, Alan Pardew has turned Crystal Palace around completely. He has managed to get Glenn Murray scoring for fun – having got 6 goals in his last 6 games and a focal point of Palace’s attack. His huge physical presence and strength seems to complement the pace of Bolasie, Zaha and Puncheon perfectly. Bolasie and Zaha themselves have seemed to be reborn, finally showing the flair and pace we knew they had, and topping it off with the end product, which had yet to be proven to us. This has all surely got to be credited to Alan Pardew.
Crystal Palace will look to continue this fine form under Pardew into their last 6 games. The pressure is off for the team, but confidence is high. After surely achieving a solid mid-table finish, Palace will look to push on next season with Pardew and who knows how high it can take them? With a manager who has finally found his home, Palace look a dangerous Premier League side, and things are only looking up now for both Palace and Pardew.