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Pardew’s Palace Renaissance: A Misjudged Manager?

The Boot Room



Alan Pardew’s enjoyed a wonderful, entertaining start to his second stint at Crystal Palace, returning as manager to the South London club for the first time since leaving as a player in 1991. Thanks to four goal heavy, and ultimately won games for the Eagles, the club already look in a much better position than before he took over. Palace were Pardew’s first professional club as a player, despite signing for the club at the age of 26, having spent the early years of his career at various non-league outfits. Now, he returns to the club as a manager with bags of top level experience upon which to draw, having previously taken the job at Reading, West Ham, Charlton, Southampton and Newcastle.

As one of the Premier League’s most recognisable silver foxes, and a manager who’s enjoyed some success with unfancied teams over the past decade or so, Pardew should probably be rated higher as a manager than he is. Yet thus far, Pardew’s work hasn’t won him too many fans in high places; it says a lot that when leaving Newcastle, Pardew’s direction was towards Crystal Palace, rather than a bigger side who might wish to take a punt on a talented and still relatively young manager. Just why is that?

Perhaps some of this lies with the struggling in interpreting Pardew’s stint at Newcastle; fans and the media can’t reach some kind of consensus as to how successful he was in the North East. The circumstances in which Pardew took over at St James’ Park didn’t help – parachuted into the job in place of the highly popular Chris Hughton in 2010 – and Pardew always faced an uphill battle to win over the Geordie faithful, but a fifth-place finish in 2011/12 went some way to securing widespread support. The next season was tougher – the Magpies were unable to balance the Premier League with Europe, and dropped to sixteenth; the next year or so continued on a similar trajectory, with a poor season ending in a tenth placed finish last year and a poor start to this season; much of this, however, wasn’t down to Pardew, who lost many of his key players, including Yohan Cabaye, without much in way of a replacement.

In spite of this, a resurgent run this season, which saw Newcastle go more than two months unbeaten, beating the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea along the way, improved Pardew’s relations with his fans at Newcastle and also positioned himself as a manager firmly as a star on the rise.

It’s become very clear once again that Alan Pardew is, indeed, a very talented manager indeed, and his good run this season has continued; since taken over at Palace, his side have won all four games – albeit two in the FA Cup – with a reasonable run of games to face them in the Premier League over the coming weeks, too. This has been in spite of the absences of lynchpin midfielder Mile Jedinak – at the Asian Cup with Australia – and star winger Yannick Bolasie, also away on international duty, at the African Cup of Nations with DR Congo. The immediate future at Selhurst Park looks very bright, with the return to form of Dwight Gayle and the signing of Yaya Sanogo hinting at a hopefully more prolific second half to the season for the London side than the one which they endured under previous incumbent, Neil Warnock.

A good run between now and the end of the season at Palace could lead to an increased stature for Pardew, whose reputation is currently marred by his failure at Southampton, and a few high profile spats with the like of Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini and Hull’s David Meyler in recent times. These were just the latest in a spate of disputes which go back right to the beginning of Pardew’s managerial career; he has an ongoing conflict with Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, while leaving Reading in 2003, after a successful stint with the Royals, led to the threat of legal action from the club’s former owner John Madejski, so bad were the terms on which both parties parted.

These problems were grounded in Pardew wanting to move to a bigger club. Reading had turned down managerless West Ham United in their approach for their Pardew, who’d guided the Royals to the playoffs in the third tier – Division Two as it was then called – before promotion the following season, and a playoff campaign the subsequent season in Division One (now the Championship). This was a good turnaround for Reading, who until Pardew’s stint in charge had been languishing towards the bottom of the third tier, and in moving to West Ham, he had a better crack at the Premier League. Finishing in ninth in the Premier League in his maiden Premier League season with the club, having been promoted in his first full season with the club through the playoffs, Pardew also reached the FA Cup final, eventually losing to Liverpool. His stock as a manager had never been higher.

A poor start to the next season led to Pardew losing his job before Christmas, however, and a poor two years at Charlton, in which he oversaw his first relegation as a manager, and moved dangerously close to a second relegation before being sacked left a stain on his CV, which forced Pardew to take a job where he’d begun: in League One. His path had taken him to the South Coast, taking over at Southampton, and despite a ten point deduction, he enjoyed a relatively comfortable first season, in which the Saints won their first trophy since the 1970s, the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy. A rift between Pardew and the owners eventually led to his removal from the job, and replacement with former Scunthorpe boss Nigel Adkins – probably the low point of Pardew’s career managerially.

That said though, since then his direction’s been firmly on the up; the aforementioned spell at Newcastle, before his current spell at Crystal Palace, have re-established Pardew as a top manager, and it is surprising that Pardew hasn’t found himself linked with too many top jobs as yet.

If his current run at Palace continues – Pardew’s men have won all four games under his stewardship, and have a relatively good run of fixtures in February to help consolidate the club in the mid-section of the Premier League – this could yet change. The individual performances of his players will play a large part, but it has been the tactical improvement of replacing Neil Warnock with Alan Pardew, and also the South London-born manager’s excellent man management which have ultimately led to a strong push in the FA Cup this season, and also a renewed exuberance in the Premier League in the two games Pardew’s lead the side through.

How long is it until Pardew’s back in the frame for a big job? After all, it’s clear that he has, by now, amassed a raft of experience at different levels of the game, remains on the young side for a manager, at just 53 years of age, and has the talent to cut it at the top level. It depends, of course, highly on vacancies, but the signs are that his managerial stock will continue to rise as the season wears on. At that point, how can a big side – even a national side – say no?

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Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace will be kicking themselves over Mandela Egbo

The England youth international left Crystal Palace in 2015.

Mathew Coull



Young English winger Keanan Bennetts made the news this week, by completing a move to German side Borussia Monchengladbach. The 19-year-old turned his back on Tottenham Hotspur in order to make the move to Germany, a move that is becoming more and more regular.

Jadon Sancho, Ryan Kent and Reece Oxford all played in the Bundesliga this season, whilst Ademola Lookman was on fire for RB Leipzig by the end of the campaign.

But one young man who did the same thing will surely be leaving a sour taste in the mouth at Crystal Palace.

The player in question is 20-year-old defender Mandela Egbo. He is now one of Bennetts’ new team-mates at Gladbach and will no doubt be helping his fellow Londoner settle in the North Rhine-Westphalia.

(Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

Hackney-born Egbo started his career at Crystal Palace. He swiftly rose through the ranks at the club and looked like a genuine talent for his country as well. Egbo was a member of the England squad that won the European Under-17 Championships back in 2014.

But in 2015 he decided he wanted to leave Crystal Palace. The defender joined Gladbach, where he played with their B team and saw a clearer pathway toward first-team football.

Egbo has since gone on to make his Bundesliga debut and Palace fans will realise they are now missing out on a real talent.

At 20-years-old he now appears to have matured into a very talented footballer. He simply felt that rather than getting a chance at Palace, the Eagles would always buy a new defender instead of giving him a shot.

(Photo by Raquel Costa/Getty Images)

Undoubtedly, it looks as though this has been a good career move for Egbo. Palace, on the other hand, will be disappointed they never managed to keep him in London.

Roy Hodgson would have been delighted to have a player of Egbo’s natural quality available to him in the Palace squad for next season.

Whilst fans at Selhurst Park will be gutted Egbo is not an Eagle anymore, they will no doubt wish him all the best in the Bundesliga. And who knows? Maybe, one day, Egbo will make a return to his boyhood club.

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Crystal Palace

Wilfried Zaha would be an underwhelming signing for Liverpool



Photo: Getty Images.

Liverpool have become the latest top six club to be linked with Crystal Palace ace Wilfried Zaha as the Liverpool Echo included the Reds as one of many sides believed to be chasing the Ivory Coast winger.

However, if the club do make a move for the 25-year-old, it would show a lack of ambition after what many have perceived to be a season of progress as Liverpool have reached the Champions League final whilst retaining their top four spot.

On paper, a wideman with strength and pace who scores goals would be ready-made for Jurgen Klopp’s attacking set-up and could provide a much needed rotation option alongside the likes of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane up-front.

Despite that, it would be a huge gamble to invest in Zaha. One reason for that is that he has showed his best form at Selhurst Park in the second half of 2017/18 as Roy Hodgson gave the winger a free role in attack, allowing him freedom to switch between flanks and centrally in a number ten role.

(during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool at Selhurst Park on March 31, 2018 in London, England.

At Anfield, Zaha would not possess such an option, and if he tried to maintain many of the key traits of his game of cutting inside and drifting around near the opposition box, he would be standing on the toes of established regulars like Salah and Firmino.

Then there is the concern over Zaha’s ability to adapt. His previous spell at Manchester United hinted at the fact that he has struggled with the associated pressure of being at a big club like Liverpool or their north-western rivals, which will be a concern for any club paying the astronomical transfer fee that Crystal Palace would demand for his services.

The winger has undoubted potential, but as Champions League finalists and with money to spend, Liverpool can afford to go after established stars rather than taking expensive gambles on unproven men who have a history of inconsistency.

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Crystal Palace

West Ham can’t afford to lose Michail Antonio to Crystal Palace



Photo: Getty Images.

Uncertainty surrounds West Ham United as a summer rollercoaster looks inevitable with big changes on and off the field. That is starting with a change in the dug-out, where The Times say that former Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini is favourite to replace David Moyes. The club could pay a heavy price though, with Michail Antonio potentially at risk.

The Guardian say that London rivals Crystal Palace are looking to do their transfer business early and could pounce on the chaos at the London Stadium to poach the winger away from the Hammers.

The former Sheffield Wednesday man missed much of the 2017/18 season with on and off injuries from bruised ribs to calf strains and a pulled hamstring, which may suggest that now could be the right time to cash in on the explosive 28-year-old who relies on physicality and dynamic pace.

(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images,)

Yet despite that, West Ham cannot afford to be tempted into selling. Despite being sidelined by injury at various points throughout the season, when fit Antonio was always one of the first names on the team sheet under both Slaven Bilic and David Moyes.

Antonio’s tenacity and determination shows why a new manager, whether it is Pellegrini or not, should look to build their team around the winger. Able to play in a variety of roles and a real fan favourite, the unpopular Irons board would be taking a huge gamble by allowing Antonio to depart.

It is no surprise that Palace are interested, and had it not been for injury some much more high profile clubs could have come calling, but West Ham must retain the services of Michail Antonio if they are to pursue hopes of pushing for Europe.

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