Why Alan Pardew must stop Crystal Palace's slide this weekend
It is only August, but there is considerable pressure growing on Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew already after the club’s disastrous finish in the league last season. A run to the FA Cup final managed to secure his future with the club awarding him a new contract. However, a sobering home defeat to West Brom during the opening weekend was reminiscent of the league form towards the end of last season and there are concerns within the Palace support that Pardew won’t be able to turn it around.
To put their 2016 form into context, Crystal Palace (11) have won fewer Premier League points this year than both Newcastle United (20) and Norwich City (14), who were both relegated in 2015-16. Alan Pardew had led Palace to a top five position by the turn of the year, but results went south and quickly. They only managed two wins during the second half of the season, which came against relegated Norwich and another out-of-form team in Stoke City. To make things worse, they also lost to both Aston Villa and Newcastle.
Palace need to now arrest that slide and quickly, otherwise Pardew will find himself without a job. This isn’t the first time he has been in this position, with lengthy losing streaks being common throughout his managerial career, especially in his previous job with Newcastle.
During the 2012-13 season, his Newcastle side lost 10 from 13 league matches and this was when the fans turned on him. It came the season after his side finished 5th and there was a belief that the club could establish themselves as a top ten club, but instead they now faced a relegation battle. This run came over November to January, which allowed the club to strengthen in the winter transfer window. This gave the club positive momentum and they managed to get six wins from the next 15 matches to secure safety, just.
Another drop off in form came in the next season, as Newcastle lost 14 of their final 19 matches, but incredibly still managed to finish in the top ten. Pardew didn’t lose his job and entered his final six months as Newcastle in a poisonous atmosphere, with 99% of the fan-base against him. The start to the 2014-15 season wasn’t great, as it took eight matches for Newcastle to get their first win, but they followed that up with four more. It was an amazing run of form, which consolidated Newcastle in the top ten and secured Pardew’s position at the club once again.
Shortly after this run, he left for Crystal Palace and had a superb first 12 months with the club he once played for. In this period, he enjoyed a 50% win rate and the criticism he faced at Newcastle seemed a lifetime ago.
Unfortunately for Alan Pardew, his new club then entered into the terrible run of form that has carried on until the time of writing. In 2016, he has won just twice in 20 league matches and he needs to arrest a slide once more. He has done it before, but it is worrying how teams led by Pardew repeatedly suffer from disastrous runs of form.
This time feels different. At Palace he has been given greater control over transfers and this is certainly his team. If he can’t turn things around over the coming months and he loses his job, he may struggle to get another management role in the Premier League. The situation at Palace is nowhere near as toxic as it was at Newcastle and his achievements there as a player will give him extra time.
The signing of Christian Benteke has finally provided Pardew with the striker he has wanted all summer and there can be no room for excuses. Pardew has an excellent side and one that rivals the Newcastle team he led to 5th during the 2011/12 season. The money spent on Benteke displays the faith that Steve Parish still has in his manager and the next few matches will be crucial for Pardew’s future career.
This weekend, Crystal Palace face a difficult trip to Tottenham, but it is a match they should relish and it could provide the perfect turning point for Alan Pardew. He has been victorious there twice in his last three visits as a manager and his style of play is normally successful against the better sides in the division. Although Yannick Bolasie has left, they have lots of pace in attack and a quality passer in Yohan Cabaye. This result won’t decide Pardew’s fate, but it is a great opportunity and a good performance is the minimum required.
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