And there you have it: the hard facts which, in the end, saw Alan Pardew sacked today as manager of Crystal Palace.
Since Boxing Day 2015, Pardew’s Palace had lost 21 Premier League matches, 11 in the second half of last season, 10 so far this. Now just one point above the drop zone, and with must-win six-pointers at Watford and against Swansea to come over the holiday period, and for the club hierarchy the point had been reached where Something Must Be Done.
But be careful what you wish for, Eagles fans. Sam Allardyce is available and, in football agent-speak, “keen for a return to a job in the top flight as soon as possible”. Which for Palace could mean out of the frying pan and into the furnace. Just ask any West Ham fans. Or the FA.
The expression on Pardew’s face when Manchester United got the late winner to deny Palace even a hard-fought draw in their game a week ago showed that he seemed to know his fate was sealed. The draw at Hull before that was clearly unhelpful in his cause. But eight defeats in the last 10 league games had become the juggernaut Pardew could not turn around.
In the end, it was perhaps the most polite sacking in recent football history, the language used almost south London suburban twee: “Crystal Palace FC have today asked Alan Pardew to step down as manager of the club.” You daren’t imagine what might have happened had he told them “No”.
The club statement with what became the inevitable news was posted on the website at 2.51pm. It included this comment from Steve Parish, the club chairman: “I would like to put on record our sincere gratitude for the tremendous service Alan has given us, both in his time here as manager and previously as a player. Following a fantastic second half of 2014-2015, the 2015-2016 season culminated in only narrowly missing out on winning the FA Cup as well as securing our Premier League place for a record-breaking fourth time.
“During his tenure Alan’s hard work and dedication were without question, he has improved so many areas of the club and we wish him the very best for the future.”
The statement then alluded to the important fixtures over the holiday period, and the likelihood that, whoever is appointed to take over, is immediately available to do so: “With games now coming thick and fast over the holiday period the club are hoping to put someone in place as quickly as possible but have nothing to say about a replacement at this time.”
Pardew, too, issued an statement via the club, suggesting that talks had been held since the weekend to arrange a pay-off. Having signed a new contract last summer, it is being reported that Pardew could walk away from Selhurst Park with £5million.
Pardew’s comments towards the club today were a good deal more conciliatory than some of his recent remarks which had been interpreted as being critical of Palace’s new American co-owners, Joshua Harris and David Blitzer.
Pardew said: “I would just like to take the opportunity to thank everybody at Crystal Palace for their fantastic support. In particular a big thanks to the players who gave me absolutely everything and Steve Parish and his board.
“Personally I have a lot of good feelings for this football club and am sad that my time there has ended.
“I feel that I have a special bond with the club and hope that hasn’t been affected, I wish everybody associated with the Club the best of luck in the future including of course the fans who have been magnificent.”
Allardyce is the short odds favourite with the bookmakers to take the Palace job, and he has already indicated his desire to take over at Selhurst Park.
Others suggested to be in the running have Palace pedigrees: current Wales manager Chris Coleman, who after over-achieving at Euro2016 may consider he can do no more with his national side struggling in World Cup qualifying, and Roy Hodgson, who traces his family and footballing roots back to south London, but whose reputation may have been tainted by England’s parlous performance at the Euros.
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