Is This Man Good Or Just Lucky?

Alan Pardew is a vile creature. He’s not the most liked manager in the PL. Heck, he’s not the most liked person in the PL… and Joey Barton’s back. Pardew’s so despised, Wenger tried to throw a punch at him in 2006. OK, maybe it was just a touchline bust-up between the two. But still, fuck Pardew.

While he might be a terrible person, there’s no denying Pardew’s managerial prowess. He’s a great manager. Yes, his team wasn’t all that good in the past two seasons. But what he did the season before was nothing short of miraculous. Alas, that team is all but gone. Say hello to Nèwcàstlé Unïtéd.

Pardew was Reading’s manager for four years back in 1999. He got them to the second division playoffs. However, he lost.

The following season he got them promoted to Division One and finished fourth, which meant they get a shot at the playoffs. But that didn’t work out so well. They lost and stayed in Division One.

Then it was on to West Ham in 2003. In his first season, he got them to the play-off final but lost to Crystal Palace.

He got them promoted the following season and they finished 9th in the Premier League the season after that, which is by all accounts a notable achievement. During that same season, West Ham also made it to the FA Cup final. They drew with Liverpool but lost in penalties.

After what was a very successful season, it all came tumbling down in the following season. They crashed out of the League Cup and the UEFA Cup, and after a 4-0 defeat to Bolton, Pardew was sacked.

Two weeks later, Charlton signed him on a 3.5 year contract. Charlton were 19th when he was appointed in December. They had 12 points. Let me repeat that, they had twelve points in December.

He needed a miracle to keep them up but that was too much to ask for. It was Pardew’s first relegation as a player and manager.

The following season wasn’t much better as they failed to get promoted. The fans wanted Pardew out, and eventually he had no choice but to leave.

But Alan Pardew always gets a new job.

Southampton came knocking in 2009, naming Alan as their new manager. One of his first signings was one Rickie Lambert. They won the Football League Trophy (yes, apparently it’s a thing) that year, their first trophy since 1976. However, after a fallout with the owners, Pardew left the next summer.

Pardew got the Newcastle United job in late 2010. He had a good half season. (What’s that you say? They drew 4-4 with Arsenal two months after he got the job? That proved to be the turning point in Arsenal’s season? That never happened. I didn’t see it.) They finished 12th that season.

2011 was entirely different, however. Pardew got some great players in the summer -players like Yohan Cabaye and Demba Ba. The two proved to be the most crucial for his team in the first half of the season. Cabaye was still as crucial in the second half. Ba.. not so much. Why? Because Papisse fucking Cisse was a god that’s why.

Pardew signed him in the winter transfer window from Freiburg. Cisse played 13 matches for Newcastle and he scored just as many goals. Newcastle didn’t do well against the top 6, but they proved to be too good for the bottom ten, and that was good enough to get them 5th place in the league.

Pardew was deservedly named manager of the year. Following what was a hugely successful season, Mike Ashley decided to give Pardew an 8-year contract extension.

What were they smoking at St. James Park? Why? Because Newcastle were almost relegated the next season. They finished 16th. Only five points from relegation. 13/14 was better for them as they finished 10th, 13 points from relegation.

Pardew signed a bunch – a HUGE bunch – of French players over the past two seasons. Yanga Mbiwa, Debuchy, Haidara, Sissoko, Gouffran, and Amalfitano were all signed in 2012, while Pardew signed (on loan) one more French player, Loic Remy, in 2013.

Finally, this summer Pardew went for Remy Cabella and Emmanuel Riviere. Two solid additions to what’s looking like a solid team. Now, believe it or not, Pardew has also signed non-French players. Siem De Jong, Janmaat, and Anita. Yes, they’re all Dutch. Pardew and diversification are antonyms.

Newcastle conceded 59 goals last season, 68 the season before, and 51 the season before it. Yanga Mbiwa, Coloccini, Taylor, and Williamson will remain unchanged. They don’t really need a 5th centre back, and that’s why Pardew didn’t sign one. Debuchy left for Arsenal and Pardew signed the highly-rated Janmaat to replace him. He proved himself on the biggest stage of all, the World Cup. Since he’s only 25 and provides more going forward, I’d say he’s an upgrade. Santon will keep his place as left back. As for the goalkeepers, Pardew seems to trust Krul. However, if he gets injured he’ll have no choice but to play Elliott. He looked untrustworthy when he had to cover for Krul during the past two seasons. (He’s a Championship player at best.)

Midfield’s probably the least worrying position for Pardew. Pardew’s got tons of midfielders at his disposal. However, ever since Cabaye left, their midfield has looked like a mess. They lacked a proper playmaker, which is why they got Cabella. He’s a decent dribbler and his vision could be likened to Valbuena’s. His 14 goals in the French league last season shows he’s ready to play in the PL.

If Arsene Wenger was still a cheapskate, he would’ve been all over him. He averaged 2.7 shots/game and 2.2 key passes/game – stats on par with Cabaye’s when he played for Lille. He might need a couple of months to adapt to the PL, but there’s no doubting his potential.

Colback and Tiote will most likely pair up behind Cabella. Colback’s a tough box-to-box who’ll be in charge of getting the ball forward. While he won’t get them lots of goals nor assists, he’ll run his legs ragged for the team. Tiote will provide cover at the back. Colback and Cabella shouldn’t be afraid to dart forward with Tiote behind them, as he provides more than ample cover. Tiote’s stamina is quite outstanding. However, if Pardew wants to rest Tiote there’s always Anita. Pardew has yet to sign wingers. With only three wingers in the team, Pardew might want to get one or two, as the only wingers he’s got are: injury-prone Ben Arfa, Sissoko, and Gouffran.

Pardew plays 4-4-2 and he’ll stick to it once again this season. With Remy back at QPR and Cisse being quite poor, Pardew splashed the cash on two forwards, Riviere and De Jong. While journalists aren’t that convinced Riviere will shine in the PL, his scoring records says otherwise. Riviere’s 166 mins/goal isn’t that far off Remy’s 150 mins/goal – granted they play in different leagues. As long as he adapts to the PL, he should score 10+ goals in his first season.

Now De Jong is an interesting player. He played as an attacking midfielder and striker for Ajax last season. He’ll definitely partner up with Riviere, but he might be more of a no. 10 than a striker. He might play deep since he’s got the experience and the passing ability most no. 9s lack. He averages around 0.2 assists/game and 0.33 goals/game.

Ba and Cisse didn’t work out well because none of them was a good passer. They played as two lone strikers. That won’t be the case here. Riviere will depend on De Jong for support, and De Jong will deliver.

Pardew’s signings are promising. Newcastle are definitely a better team than they were last season. They only lost one key player and added four quality players. As long as they start the season well, I believe they’ll comfortably be in the top 8 come the end of the season. Will they fight with Spurs and Everton for a better position? That’s a season too soon. Maybe they will in the 15/16 season.

Only Greg Kinnear knows.

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