20 games gone - A Tribute to Pardew
So Alan Pardew has reached the 20 game landmark with Newcastle United. As the manager is reported as being pleased with progress, TOTT reviews his performance so far.
Just to recap, Hughton was sacked as the club announced that they felt the need for a manager with experience to take the club to the next level. Out went the manager who broke several records, in came Pardew whose managerial career spans 13 years, now at his 5th club.
Having hit the scene as a caretaker at Reading, he achieved a 3rd division play off place in his 2nd season, automatic promotion followed the next year. Reading obviously suited him, with an ambitious owner putting plenty of his own cash into the club. This led to a 2nd play off, this time a league higher, but still Pardew left in acrimonious circumstances to move to a bigger, richer club.
So on to West Ham, where the first season saw another play off defeat. His 2nd season saw a turbulent relationship with hammers` fans before sneaking into 6th place, winning another play off to join Sunderland and Wigan in promotion. This West Ham team was bristling with talent as would be expected from probably the best resourced club in the division at the time, notably with Teddy Sheringham leading the line.
That promotion led to Pardew`s only complete season in the Premier League, finishing 9th winning the last 2 games after a run of only 1 win in 10. His luck was not to last as in the next year he took the team into the bottom 3, sacked before Christmas despite having spent on expensive acquisitions. Alan Curbishley took over for the rest of the season to rescue them as Pardew headed for Charlton and relegation.
A further sacking followed as he took Charlton to the bottom of the Championship, taking over at another well resourced club in the 3rd tier, Southampton, finishing in the top half of the table before once again being sacked.
So on to Newcastle, and his first match ended with an emphatic win over Liverpool, for which statistics give him the credit despite being in charge for 24 hours or so. The win bore all the hallmarks of a Hughton side, from the set piece knock down to the defensive positioning that led to a goal line clearance.
Nevertheless, Pardew started with a win, before reverting to a 4-5-1 formation which had not worked earlier in the season and which had been abandoned by Hughton. Defeats came against Spurs and Man City with a defensive approach, Pardew blaming his young keeper. The new year brought two wins, the first against Wigan away, curiously the last team that he had beaten away in the top flight with Charlton. The 2nd was a five goal demolition of his ex, West Ham, which also brought his honeymoon period to an end.
First 5 games
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An FA Cup defeat at Stevenage was reminiscent of a similar humiliation at West Ham, against Chesterfield. On a narrow pitch he narrowed it even further with the selection of players on the wrong flanks. Similar tactical naivety ceded winning positions in the league. Against Sunderland the goal came from the flank abandoned with a late substitution, against Spurs Redknapp switching goalscorer Lennon to the left wing following Pardew`s defensive reshuffle.
Carroll was sold, the aftermath starting with a trip to Fulham. Ameobi was ruled out for a spell with a cheek injury, the pitch being blamed for a solitary goal defeat. Excitement returned with the 4-4 draw against Arsenal, Pardew taking credit for his half time rant having blamed the players for the 4 goals conceded in the first half. It had already emerged that the manager himself takes responsibility for defensive coaching.
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Next up was a draw at Blackburn in a match dominated by the Mags but with no cutting edge. The strikers got the blame for this one, making the wrong decisions and not working the goalkeeper harder. He did praise himself though, after the clean sheet, for tightening up the defence.
A visit to Birmingham, themselves with an eye on the League Cup final saw the points return to St James`, with Bolton at home following on. Despite taking the lead, honours were shared, according to Pardew due to an antagonistic referee. Everton at home was a defeat with some more bizarre tactics, Simpson playing in 3 different positions. Stoke away saw yet another reshuffle, with 3 central defenders being the way to cope with an aerial threat. Tactically this was genius, but the players let in 4 goals for an emphatic loss.
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A reversion to 4-4-2 against Wolves at home showed the potential in the squad with a 4-1 win, Pardew recognizing Shola`s qualities and likening him to Carlos Tevez and Teddy Sheringham. A trip to their Midland neighbours, Villa was less rewarding although a battling draw at home to Manchester United showed promise
The draw at Blackpool was lackluster, giving the opposition their 6th point out of 42, the loss at Liverpool proving Pardew prophetic in suggesting that televising this game was designed to cause embarrassment. It certainly did.
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A quick look at his transfer record shows that he has backed the board in achieving a record surplus, in the sale of Andy Carroll. Pardew should be congratulated on his ability to draw significant assurances from his Chairman, firstly that Andy Carroll would not be sold, not under any circumstances, not at any price. The second is that he will be able to invest the Carroll cash.
Incoming saw the arrival of Stephen Ireland, with plenty of suggestions that the way the manager sees the future is a 4-4-1-1. Ireland has of course returned having made two fleeting substitute appearances, although Pardew has spoken of Ben Arfa taking the same role.
On his arrival, the new manager also identified the long term strategy of bringing through younger players. This has been evidenced by a handful of substitute appearances for Ferguson and Ranger.
Pardew has been media friendly, the press given the opportunity to put a positive spin on mediocre results. The facts remain that in 20 games, his win percentage is 25%, below 30% of Richard Dinnis, the lowest of any permanent manager in Newcastle`s top flight history. 13.3% in the last 15 games is similar to the last 15 of Dinnis`s before being sacked.
A tribute should always look at a person`s qualities and strengths. He is the most verbose manager in Newcastle history. In looking for a manager to take us to the next level, Llambias and Ashley have chosen the right man for the job, and judging by his record at Charlton, the level below that too. When we get there, Pardew`s 3rd division history at Reading and Southampton is one to be admired.
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