Despite what are in many ways wildly different backgrounds, we imagine Yaya Toure and Alan Pardew have a fair amount in common. Pardew is a former glazier from Wimbledon who once knocked Liverpool out of an FA Cup semi-final, Yaya is from the Ivorian city of Bouaké and was, at one time, one of the greatest footballers of his generation. Nonetheless, in the face of the enormous cultural gap between them, they still give an impression of being cut from the same existential cloth. That doesn't mean that they share the same interests, necessarily, though we would like to think that Yaya enjoys hanging out on vintage steam trains as much as Pardew does. Nor does it mean that the two would have much to speak about were they to bump into each other in Harrods, or wherever obscenely rich people shop.
Thankfully, they share something much greater than their backgrounds, something much more profound. That something is not their love of football, nor their sense of selfhood, nor even a common language, but rather an irreducible bond of commonality – a fierce affinity of the soul. One can so easily imagine Pardew losing his rag over Crystal Palace's failure to get him a birthday cake, locking himself in his office and demanding that Steve Parish personally apologise. Likewise, it takes no great stretch of the imagination to picture Toure sitting on his own in the VIP section of a luxurious house party, or snaffling a teammate's dinner before delivering the immortal line "When you're the king, you can do anything" in his soft Francophone mumble, chuckling cheerfully under his breath.
In a spiritual sense, then, Yaya and Pards are one and the same, even though the outside observer might assume otherwise. Unfortunately for Pardew, their fortunes diverged quite markedly this weekend, when Manchester City visited Selhurst Park. While Yaya went into the game at a relatively low ebb, having previously been banned from first-team activities owing to a massive bust up with Pep Guardiola, his first start in three months yielded two goals and an instant upturn in his professional outlook. Meanwhile, Pardew has presided over a worrying slide at Crystal Palace, with another defeat leaving the Selhurst faithful wavering and his team a single point above the relegation zone.
With Swansea, Sunderland, Hull and West Ham grabbing headlines for their disastrous starts to the season, Pardew and Palace have flown under the radar somewhat. They have now lost their last five in a row, however, and so the pressure is starting to mount. Pards has been teflon up until now, but criticisms of his management are starting to stick to his otherwise slick and oleaginous exterior. Perhaps he ought to take Yaya out for a VIP meal and a tête-à-tête, since his soulmate clearly knows how to claw his way back from the brink of career oblivion. Then again, Pards would probably swipe his dinner, which would almost certainly piss him off.