July 2016. Alan Pardew takes his seat in front of the media at Crystal Palace‘s Beckenham training ground and is immediately asked about reports linking him with the vacant England manager’s job.
It’s flattering, Pardew explains, but my loyalties lie in south London.
Four years on, it seems barely conceivable that he would be linked with such a high-profile role.
This week saw him reach an agreement to leave lowly ADO Den Haag, having spent four months in a Dutch relegation battle. Before that, there was a failed spell in the Championship with West Brom after his time at Palace had come to a miserable end.
In just a few short years, Pardew’s stock has fallen at a rapid rate and he now returns to England with his tail tucked between his legs and no job offers on the horizon. But where did it all go so wrong?
Alan Pardew has left ADO Den Haag, just four months after taking over at the Dutch side
Newcastle (December 2010-December 2014)
Perhaps it is best to start in the North East, with Pardew having earned the biggest job of his career after spells with West Ham, Charlton and Southampton in the 2000s. Right from the very start, though, he had to contend with rocky waters.
Taking over from Chris Hughton, it was reported in a poll by Sky Sports that just five per cent of 40,000 interviewed Magpies fans wanted the Londoner to take the job.
That being said, it started well. A 3-1 win over Liverpool began his reign at St James’ Park, and there were huge results elsewhere too: a 5-0 win over his old club West Ham, a remarkable comeback to draw 4-4 with Arsenal. It was goals galore on Tyneside.
In truth, that is a trait that has followed Pardew everywhere in management. It is guaranteed to never be boring, and it often starts well with plenty of goals. In the summer of 2011, Pardew made some big signings, Frenchmen Demba Ba and Yohan Cabaye among them, and Newcastle embarked on a rather remarkable campaign.
There were great times at Newcastle, and he even enjoyed a European run in the north east
They went unbeaten in 11 matches to start the season, and come the following summer, they had reserved themselves a European spot and Pardew was writing his acceptance speech for the Premier League Manager of the Season Award.
In September 2012, he signed a remarkable eight-year contract and it’s at that point that things started to turn. Incredibly, with Palace, West Brom and ADO Den Haag now on his post-Newcastle CV, he still has five months to run on that mega-deal.
April 2013 produced a humiliating 3-0 defeat at the hands of bitter rivals Sunderland, and it was a real roller-coaster ride throughout the 2013-14 season. He was Manager of the Month for November following four wins in four, but the second half of the season was a complete and utter horror show.
His team collapsed to 15 defeats in 21 matches, and fans turned on him swiftly. This outsider, the Londoner, needed to go. On the final day of the season, Newcastle beat Cardiff 3-0 but the St James’ support had made their minds up.
Things turned sour quickly for Pardew, and fans were desperate to get rid of him in 2014
Newcastle Chronicle, the local paper in the region, commented that it was ‘arguably the worst personal abuse a Newcastle manager has had to endure at any game. It was an excruciating afternoon for all concerned.’
Perhaps more worryingly, he still had seven-and-a-half years left on that contract. It looked a monumental miscalculation.
2014 proved to be the final straw and Newcastle fans got what they wanted after a brutal and sustained campaign to rid the club of their manager. SackPardew.com took off, banners were raised at every game, protests took place outside the stadium. At one match, 30,000 A4 sheets calling for his dismissal were distributed among supporters.
He actually finished with a flourish, not that it mattered a jot to Toon supporters. November 2014 brought six consecutive wins in all competitions and another Manager of the Month award, taking them away from the drop zone to the relative safety of mid-table in the Premier League.
With his head held high, Pardew gave the club’s supporters the Christmas present they all wanted, leaving for Crystal Palace on December 29th and taking over in south London a few days after the turn of the year. The rollercoaster ride was over, but there was still plenty of time to run on that fateful eight-year contract.
‘Pardew is a muppet’ reads one banner at St Mary’s during Newcastle’s game vs Southampton
Crystal Palace (January 2015-December 2016)
Pardew’s time at Crystal Palace can be easily split into two parts: the good and the bad, 2015 and 2016. As with plenty of other jobs in his managerial career, it started brilliantly and turned sour all-too-quickly.
His settling-in period at Palace was an easy one, given the hero status he still enjoyed from his time as a player there in the late 80s and early 90s. A local boy, he’d scored the goal to secure victory over Liverpool in the 1990 FA Cup semi-final. Now it had come full circle and he was there to save the day from the dugout.
Palace had endured a brutal start to the campaign, with Tony Pulis walking out just days before their first match and the return of Neil Warnock unable to arrest the slide. Steve Parish turned to Pards, and everything looked more than rosy for a while.
2015 saw Palace climb well away from danger to record their highest-ever Premier League finish of 10th. It was argued by some that not only had he saved Palace, but his first-half of the season at Newcastle had ultimately saved them too, given they slumped following his exit.
Pardew started on positive footing at Palace, already hailed a club hero from his playing days
At the beginning of the 2015-16 campaign, the Eagles beat Liverpool and Chelsea among others, climbing to the European places in the Premier League and at Christmas, there was genuine excitement that a top-six place could be on the cards.
It was around that time the rumours started swirling, Pardew regularly linked with top jobs around Europe and the pinnacle for an English manager – the head coach of the national team. Time after time, he batted away speculation, but it was always there in the background.
The start of 2016, though, was the beginning of the end for Pardew. Palace’s form nosedived and the team started leaking goals. A brilliant run to the FA Cup final masked the disastrous league form, and the excellent start to the campaign was all that stopped them from dropping down into the second tier.
The FA Cup final, of course, is now best-remembered for Pardew’s dad dancing on the touchline after Jason Puncheon’s goal, a fateful moment that came back to bite him minutes later when Manchester United equalised, and then later went on to lift the trophy after extra-time.
2015 was brilliant in south London, but things took a hefty turn in 2016 and their form dipped
2016-17 came around, and still Pardew’s stock began to fall. Newcastle fans reminded their Palace counterparts that *this* was the real Pardew, and come winter, the Eagles had won just six of their 36 competitive matches in the calendar year.
Moored in the relegation zone, chairman Parish pulled the plug. On December 22, Pardew was called to a meeting at the club’s Soho offices, where his time in charge of the club came to an end.
‘We all bought into the decision to play a more expansive style of football,’ Parish said. ‘We all believed in it. That hasn’t worked.’
Just shy of two years, and his fairytale at Palace had reached a sorry end. Oh, and that Newcastle deal? Still three years and 10 months to go.
Palace lost in the FA Cup final in 2016, which is now famous for Pardew’s touchline dancing
West Brom (November 2017-April 2018)
And so the slide continued. After bruising spells at Newcastle and Palace with little to no break in six years, Pardew took some time out to regroup.
There were rumours aplenty during his 11 months out of the game, but Pardew never took a job and instead took on some high-profile roles in the media. In the end, it was West Brom in November that gave him his next shot at management.
After almost three years with Tony Pulis at the helm, the Baggies had enjoyed a sustained run in the Premier League but were struggling in the lower positions and wanted a change in their fortunes to avoid a dreaded relegation.
Indeed, they needed that bounce that he had provided elsewhere… they needed the 2015 Palace Pardew.
Instead, it turned into a disaster from start to finish. The Baggies won just once in 18 league matches under their new man, eight points from a possible 54. He parted company with the club on April 2, with them languishing at the foot of the table.
West Brom had gone 10 games without a win, lost eight on the bounce and were destined for relegation to the second tier. Darren Moore came in and tried his best to turn things around, but their fate had already been decided.
West Brom was a disaster start to finish, and Pardew’s 10 games virtually secured relegation
ADO Den Haag (December 2019-April 2020)
‘He’s a friend and it’s sad to see the way it’s gone but I don’t see a route for him now,’ came the words from Ian Wright after his West Brom exit.
‘Which chairman’s going to give him a job to keep them in the Premier League?’ he told the BBC. ‘Even if he went into the Championship, which chairman is going to say, “I want Alan to come in and keep us in here?”‘
It was a sorry state of affairs, and a dramatic decline for the man tipped to be in charge of the England team just two years prior.
Next came another break from the game, before Pardew changed tack at the end of 2019 and decided to cut his teeth away from the glare of the media spotlight in England.
At Den Haag, Pardew won just once in eight games and endured a lowest ever win percentage
For the first time in his career, be it as a player or a manager, he hopped on a plane and signed a contract away from England. ADO Den Haag was the destination, taking on a relegation battle an hour south-west of Amsterdam.
He was greeted by banners and flags, the lively Dutch fanbase delighted to secure his appointment a day before Christmas in 2019.
When he took over, the team were just two points off the bottom of the Eredivisie, with the club’s chairman speaking with enthusiasm about Pardew’s ‘vision’ for the club.
Alas, it was a difficult spell for Pardew as he took charge of just eight league games before the coronavirus pandemic brought the season to a crashing halt.
In that time, he won just one game, drawing three and losing four. It works out as his lowest ever win percentage as a manager… just 12.5 per cent.
He took Chris Powell (centre) with him, but Pardew’s intended resurrection hasn’t worked
February saw one midweek training session taken over by the club’s ultras, so distraught with their manager’s tactics that they broke into the facilities, hijacked his whiteboard and gave Pardew an idea of what they wanted to see. Embarrassing images emerged of him standing beside his players as though he too was a member of the squad listening to his bosses.
In truth, a spell in Holland was supposed to rejuvenate and refresh Pardew’s career, to raise his stock enough to secure another high-profile job in England, but it has done nothing but plummet him to new lows.
Of course, eight games is no real marker; it is difficult to put your spin on a team in three short months, but there were no green shoots of recovery in sight.
Fans were calling for Pardew’s exit before he took the plunge himself and announced that he and the club had mutually decided to call it a day.
He announced this week that he wouldn’t take the £100,000 bonus he was promised for keeping Den Haag in the division, given the circumstances in which he leaves them.
In February, supporters broke into training and gave Pardew a lesson in tactics they wanted
The reality is, there were no positives, no bonuses, to Pardew’s time in Holland.
So what next? Speaking to talkSPORT on Wednesday, he made no illusions of his plan going forward, and absolutely sees his future in management.
‘I think I probably will end up in England,’ he said. ‘Hopefully with a club where I’ve got the opportunity to push for some kind of promotion, some kind of success.
‘The last two clubs I’ve taken over [have been] in dire trouble, both times it’s not really worked out how I would have liked.’
Over the years, Pardew has enjoyed some incredible highs – a European adventure with Newcastle and the brilliant FA Cup run with Palace – often putting up with more criticism than one man deserves in an entire lifetime.
But the last few years have been a dramatic fall from grace, and it is difficult to see just where he goes next.
From the highest of highs to the lowest of lows, Pardew’s rollercoaster has come to a stop… and still there’s five months left on that Newcastle contract.