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Much Ado About Pardew

Many Crystal Palace fans can envisage Alan Pardew taking the England job – but Samuel Boyle says they should embrace it.

Article by Sam Boyle

The international break is upon us, and yet again none of Crystal Palace’s English starlets have been selected for the national team. Despite routinely turning in top class performances, Kyle Walker has been preferred to Scott Dann whilst Jason Puncheon can’t get a look in. However, one call up most Eagles fans are expecting in the near future is that of their manager – is Alan Pardew set to take over the national job from Roy Hodgson after Euro 2016?

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The suspicion amongst many fans is that the ex-Fulham manager Hodgson will be in charge of England at a major tournament for the last time in France. He kept his place at the helm despite a dismal World Cup and has since guided the Three Lions through a successful qualifying campaign but the commonly held belief is that his tenure is nearer its end than its beginning.

This is where Palace fans are worried. Currently, Alan Pardew sits as either favourite or joint favourite for the job with most bookmakers. It’s not difficult to see how bookies and pundits alike have come to the conclusion that Pardew is a candidate for the role, particularly considering the lack of top-class home bred managers currently managing in the domestic leagues.

Firstly, the ex-Newcastle boss has carved out a decent reputation for himself in recent years – whilst fans on Tyneside may not have liked him, for reasons we won’t go into here, their form since Pardew left for Selhurst Park suggests he may have been a stabilising force. In the league they have picked up only 16 points from a possible 81 in that time, winning only three matches. That compares to the remarkable upsurge in form Palace have seen under their former player, finishing 10th last season whilst The Eagles currently sit 4th in the Premier League table.

Those recent results and developing reputation have made Pardew stand out from a field full of pretty average English managers. Of those who were in contention last time, Harry Redknapp has since overseen full-scale meltdown at QPR and Sam Allerdyce is still out of work after a time fraught with discontent amongst West Ham fans. Obviously it is difficult for English managers to make an impact in the Premier League when they are not given the top jobs, but even the most recent UK manager to hold a top office, Northern Ireland’s Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool, was sacked this week.

Why is this relevant? Since the Fabio Capello fiasco, the FA chose to return to a domestic manager and most analysis believe they will do the same next time around to prevent the extra media scrutiny that is placed on national team managers that are not born within our shores.

However, in truth, I don’t see the reason that Palace fans should be worried. Clearly, neither does Palace chairman Steve Parish who answered Darren Fletcher’s question about the issue on BT Sport last weekend with a rather blunt ‘no’. My own personal thesis is that the FA may well stick to a manager who is well known to home, by which I mean, from within their system. Though it would be a monumental gamble of Steve McClaren esque proportions, Gary Neville and Gareth Southgate seem like the likely contenders if they want a home-bred manager to continue the reign of stability.

Stability has been paramount to the FA ever since the reign of Kevin Keegan, with each of their appointment’s since having seemed at the time to be relatively ‘sensible’. Okay, Sven Goran Eriksson may have had a wild side and Fabio Capello turned out to be a loose cannon that ultimately publically humiliated English Football but at the time they appeared to be well-thought out and reasoned appointments. No longer is the decision made upon the idea that England must be led by a patriotic man-motivational manager who captures the imagination of the public – but rather the hard facts of someone that is a ‘company man’.

Pardew will never be a ‘company man’. Despite his recent overtures at the job and seeming attempts to calm down he will always be a manager with a strong sense of what he believes that is never able to shirk from his views in public. He is also always going to be the sort of manager that refuses to shake his colleagues hand or even insults them on the touchline. The truth is, Pardew has a big ego. He knows it and so do the fans – and that works at a Palace side trying to establish themselves in the Premier League – but it is hardly what England look for in a manager.

In any case, even if you place that argument to one side an important fact remains – Pardew being linked with the England job is brilliant for Palace. It gives the club an important status in the Premier League and the sense of belonging that goes along with that. That sense of importance will not only give a feel-good factor around the club but also give players, and potential signings, a desire to want to work hard and do well under what many now see as a successful manager.

Never mind the fact that this is rarified air for Palace. Lest we forget, Palace are only in their 3rd season having never previously stayed up in the reformed top flight. The Eagles have already beaten the Champions away from home this season and but for a late Man City goal would be sitting joint top of the league eight games in.

The truth is, Selhurst Park hasn’t known it this good in years. Rumours about the manager are bound to come as a consequence. However, Palace fans should embrace those rumours as they’re a sign that this is a club very much on the up.

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