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Football purist, realist and general sports fanatic. Interested in all aspects of the game, from all corners of the earth.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

All Hail The King

West Ham’s former club photographer Steve Bacon tells a tale about Alan Pardew from his time at Upton Park that fits perfectly with the current Crystal Palace manager’s public persona.

During a pre-game staff meal before a clash with Sunderland Pardew lay down the law on the monarch system he favours when at the helm.

“When the gaffer sat down with his backroom team deciding on his order, he asked fitness coach Tony Strudwick what he was getting and told him he’d take it if it looked good”.

“When the meals arrived Pards said to Tony, ‘your’s looks better, I’m having that’”, and swapped plates.

“I told him you can’t just take someone else’s dinner. Pards retorted, ‘when you’re The King, you can do anything’”.

In terms of Premier League managers, Pardew may not quite be in awe of his own genius as much as Sam ‘Big Sam’ Allardyce is; a man who unashamedly explained his side’s second-half transformation against Hull City 6 weeks ago by saying “at half time it all boiled down to me."

Pardew, or Pards as he is affectionately known, exudes almost as much self-importance but in an endearing way that the grizzling Allardyce simply cannot.

When the Londoner made the switch from St. James’ Park to Selhurst Park this winter he was asked how it felt to hear the words ‘Alan Pardew, Crystal Palace manager’.

Plateau faced, he replied, "It feels great for everybody".

Since then, things have funnily enough been great for his team. After opening up with 4 wins on the spin including victories over Spurs and Southampton, Palace have opened a healthy gap between themselves and the relegation zone.

Pardew’s selection of the talented but inconsistent duo Wilfried Zaha and Yannick Bolaise out wide (moving Jason Puncheon to midfield in the process is) means Palace appear more threatening going forward, while their victory at West Ham at the weekend showed the squad have held onto Tony Pulis’ ruggedness and set piece prowess from last year; always a welcome addition.

With Pardew however, on the pitch activities aren’t even half the fun; it’s off the field where he catches our attention.

Some of his good work can be seen on the sideline; his head-butting, ‘facking old cunt’ calling antics of last spring are some examples, but to capture him at his best a mic is required, along with even a pinch of success.

When Allardyce congratulates himself it is usually in response to a direct question; Pardew goes out of his way to mention himself during his long, stream of consciousness soliloquies.

In the aftermath of Newcastle’s victory over Chelsea this season Pards reflected on his ongoing miracle act after steering the club to the top half of the table following questions surrounding his long-term future at the beginning of the campaign.

The former midfielder ensured we knew just how much of a grafter he was, declaring, "it’s credit to the owner and also credit to me because I've had to dig in a few times".

After Newcastle secured the signing of Remy Cabella last summer, Pardew again lauded his own managerial skills.

“I'd like to pay tribute to my staff”, Pardew began, “in particular Graham, myself, Lee and Mike who worked really hard for this one”.

With Harry Redknapp having left to brush up his touch around the greens, the league needed to find a charismatic, off-the-cuff, soundbyte friendly manager capable of improving the collective mood of football fans across these isles. Jose Mourinho has far too much control over his own emotions, while his linguistic expertise ensures every syllable is carefully prepared for consumption.

Snarling Big Sam reminds us of the ornery bastard nextdoor who wont kick our footballs back into the garden; a man we can come to appreciate as we grow older but one we will never revere.

Pardew on the other hand is the ideal man to take up the mantle.

“We've played perhaps the best football I've played”, Pards announced a fortnight ago. Long may it continue.

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