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School of Pard Knocks: Reviewing Swansea vs. Crystal Palace

In the first part of our Premier League Review, we look back on an absolutely mental game at the Liberty Stadium, and what it might mean for the man, the legend, Alan Pardew.

by Will Magee
28 November 2016, 12:31pm

PA Images

When Bob Bradley first arrived on these shores, he was met by a fiery blast of prejudice. Oh, how the people laughed at him, with his 'soccer' and his 'de-fense' and his several decades of experience in the game. Here was one of our transatlantic cousins, coming over here and taking one of our managerial jobs, which we usually prefer to outsource to French, Spanish, and Italian managers instead. He was only ever going to be met with scorn, with his gravelly New Jersey accent, his incredible motivational speaking and his tendency to sound like he's perpetually on the cusp of launching into the iconic speech in Any Given Sunday, only with an audience of Borja Bastón, Jefferson Montero and Angel Rangel, all of them highly bemused.

Now, though, Bob Bradley has mollified our mockery, and proved himself a worthy manager with a spectacular first win in the Premier League. Sure, it took three defeats and two draws for him to get there, but he managed it, okay, so give the guy a break. With a 16.67% win rate at Swansea as it stands, he is now officially the most successful American coach in Premier League history, mainly because he is still the only one ever. Still, it's safe to say that things are looking up for Bradley, who has implemented a gung-ho attacking philosophy at the Liberty Stadium, at least for one game.

Meanwhile, the outlook is much gloomier for the man who sat in the opposite dugout on Saturday. It hardly needs saying that a team which blows a 4-3 lead in the 90th minute and then somehow goes on to lose 5-4 is struggling; pair that with a six-match losing streak, and it's hardly surprising that people are questioning what the actual fuck Alan Pardew is doing. Having assembled perhaps the most talented squad in Crystal Palace's history, furnished with the quality of Steve Mandanda, Yohan Cabaye, Christian Benteke and the like, Pardew has nonetheless shaped his team in the image of QPR circa 2013, and set them up to play like a bunch of bandy-legged anti-winners. Palace are devoid of confidence, bereft of morale. Pardew's answer is to blame the referee, then presumably saunter off to snaffle someone's dinner and hope nobody notices the severity of Palace's slump.

Unfortunately for Pardew, people are starting to notice. It has been pointed out that Palace have the lowest points-per-match ratio in England's top four divisions this calendar year, while the fact that they now hover one place above the relegation zone, with goal difference the only thing between them and Hull City, pretty much speaks for itself. Despite significant investment in the first-team squad and the considerable talent available to him, Pardew has achieved the same number of points as Mike Phelan, a man who has little to no support from his club's owners and who wilfully plays Michael Dawson in defence. It's little wonder, then, that Pards is odds on to be the next manager to depart his post, an eventuality which we feel sure he will take with all his usual dignity and good grace.