In Tim Robbins’ Dead Man WAlking, Sister Helen aptly puts it “Redemption isn’t some kind of free admission ticket that you get because Jesus paid the price. You got to participate in your own redemption. You got some work to do” By virtue of Pardew leaving “by mutual consent” it is clear Pardew had a shot at redemption but he did not do himself any favors. There is always a recurring end to tales about dead men who walk. They usually end up dropping dead again. It might take days, weeks, months, a very shape stake driven through their chest or a helpless team determined to plant themselves at the foot of the table but in the end dead men stop walking and retreat to their graves, ready to be roused again of course. Dead man Alan is tucking himself into his tomb, because he can’t stand the covers dragging the floor (he looks like the type to actually tuck himself into his grave). As is usual with managerial dismissals, the pitchfork holders have already come out and declared how bad a managerial choice this was (never mind the fact that they were shouting anyone but Pulis a few months ago) and are now training their assault on the board. That’s the thing with this sport, somehow someway there will always be someone to blame. But three wins and 5 draws out of 23 games culminating in a 14% win rate, is it Alan’s fault?
Perhaps the only fault that can get to Al is the fact that he took the job in the first place. Sure he has always achieved the new manager bounce in his past jobs but it never quite worked at the Hawthorns. This was not expected though considering he had taken charge of a deathly stodgy club lacking a clear style of play, we probably should not have anticipated immediate results. Pardew was always going to be expansive as he is one of the few lower rung managers who have resisted the art of parking the bus. It’s no wonder games have always slipped away because if his inability to close off the game, but is it necessarily a bad thing? Should we castigate a manager because he refuses to bow to defensive pressure? (At this point of the play Pep walks in, without the yellow ribbon of course because we all know how political wrong that is!)
Pardew has always been known to trust his team and in previous situations it has more or less worked in his favor. This time it has blown up in his face. He is not an imposing manager and compared to the likes of Sam, Moyes and Hodgson, Pardew prefers not to whip players into shape. He is not a fan of the carrot or the stick as he prefers the players exercise maturity and raise their own playing levels which is progressive and seems a good idea until the Barcelona farce came to light and poor old AL was left with egg on his face.
This is the part where I get critical; his conduct in the aftermath of this PR nightmare. For starters, his decision to take them to a city with one of the most vibrant nightlife in Europe was an accident waiting to happen. He then decided to play Johnny Evans and Gareth Barry in the next game which was absolutely ridiculous. These are the senior members of the squad and for them to be part lead this deviant bunch was simply idiotic. Gareth Barry, Mr Perfect, should particularly feel ashamed of himself. One begins to question what message Pardew was sending. Are these two players untouchables? He should have stripped Evans off the captaincy, fine all players and banned them from training. They showed a shocking level of unprofessionalism so why is Pardew still giving them a lifeline? Before we castigate Pardew altogether let us not forget that Iwobi went clubbing barely 48 hours before a game and Wenger went ahead and started him. I wonder what became of that. But West Brom is struggling and Pardew has not won a trophy so bring out the prisoner!
Pardew is the only replacement manager in the PL (ignore Hughes) who hasn’t built on the points per game achieved by their predecessor. This was not helped by a largely underwhelming transfer window. It was an open secret that his main target was Troy Deeney who had fallen out with the manager then. He was capable of offering leadership and physicality leading to goals which this side was missing. Rondon was given his chance but he clearly showed he could not be trusted to deliver when push came to shove. His 14 goals in 68 Pl appearances highlight that fact. Instead he ends up with Sturridge just because the board refused to meet Deeney halfway in terms of his wage packet. Sturridge got injured in his first start and has proved to be nothing more than an efficient headache.
Twenty points in 21 games since he took over together with the failings of the board show how wretched a position the club is in. What is clear is that there is no way in this world West Brom get out of the relegation zone. As is with his predecessor the board has taken too long to pull the trigger leaving whoever is in charge with a ridiculously small operating window to work something out. Maybe for a club with stability, firing Pulis was a big mistake but one remembers the football six months ago and quickly shakes themselves back to reality. Wouldn’t it be a better idea to stick with Pardew in the championship giving him a chance to sell the deadweight and forge an identity with the players he wants who can then go ahead to challenge for promotion? Newcastle showed what a galvanized unit from the board to the tealady can achieve. The 40 million pound windfall from the TV money supplemented by a few quid from the transfer kitty would have been more than enough for Pardew to work with. Now we will never know.
The buck had to stop somewhere and this time it fell squarely on Mr Perfect Hair. Time will tell if this was a good move by the board or simply a case of shifting the blame elsewhere by putting the proverbial cart before the horse. Until next time(read within seven months), rest easy Al!