How high has Crystal Palace soared under Alan Pardew in Premier League ?
Pardew returned to Crystal Palace, where he spent 4 years as a player, midway last season and changed their fortunes
With another season drifting smoothly for Crystal Palace, it has been more than a year since Alan Pardew decided to leave his feared-sunken Newcastle ship and board the Eagles flight and the journey thus far would surely be etched in his memory for a long time.
Not to forget, he took over the reins from Neil Warnock, who himself got the job from Tony Pulis, when the club found itself in a relegation ravaged position in the table. The club was at eighteenth in the table, on the second day of January, when Pardew came to Selhurst Park.
What transpired then on would be unforgettable; From paltry walkovers, Crystal Palace transformed themselves into mid-table dynamos, giving every team a run for the victory.
From relegation-jeopardized to second highest points tally in Premier league history for the club
Pardew somehow found a winning formula which saw the emergence of two England strike-forces in Dwight Gale and Glenn Murray. Even Wilfried Zaha and Frazier Campbell managed to chip in with decisive goals which helped Palace earn some important points.
The defensive structure under Pardew. which includes the Northern Irishman Damien Delaney, Joel Ward and Scott Dann, developed the mettle to deal with stronger teams, something which was hard to see during the last season, when Pulis pulled them out of the relegation pit.
The most famous of those victories were registered over the then-reigning champions Manchester City, whom they edged 2-1 and Tottenham Hotspur. Such was his impact in the last season that by the end of it, everyone wanted Pardew to be conferred the Manager of the Season Award, for eventually taking two teams out of relegation hole – Newcastle and Crystal Palace. Unfortunately for Pardew, that award went to his London-rival Jose Mourinho.
For someone like Pardew, who ever since his start of Premier League managerial career has been drafted into relegation-threatened teams, this was another moral trophy in the bag. Though he has won only one trophy in his entire career – Johnstone's Paint Trophy with Southampton, yet taking Palace to their second highest Premier league standings of all-time, took remarkable effort, and he definitely deserves the credit for that.
The Eagles heralded a warning shot to their London rivals that they are about to pose some serious challenge next season.
This season’s run of form
This season has simply seen them rise to a position of absolute strength and dominance;
Early August, they signaled their upward ambitions by completing the signing of Yohan Cabaye from Paris Saint-Germain who previously played under Pardew at Newcastle. Bringing in Connor Wickham from Sunderland, who had a fabulous season with The Black Cats, was also a master move. Though they lost against Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City, yet they pulled out major coups against Mourinho’s Chelsea and Liverpool.
Such was their midfield strength that they only conceded nine goals in the opening ten matches. Cabaye started off impressively for his ex-Newcastle boss, chipping in with timely assists and match-winning goals.
Such was Palace’s run of form that they managed nearly thirty points from their opening 16 matches.
Nevertheless, late injuries and suspensions have seen them hit a dry patch, with no wins from the last six, which includes a 4-0 capitulation at Etihad Stadium, against the Sky Blues.
What does future have in store for them?
Crystal Palace, nevertheless is a team on the rise, with an experienced head serving as the torch-bearer. The Eagles are currently playing their third consecutive top-flight season. Last season, they finished tenth with 48 points in the kitty and they have already surpassed the thirty-point mark with another fifteen odd games to go.
Pardew’s appointment and the recent inclusions of upcoming heavyweight players in Wickham and Dwight Gayle, they certainly have a team for the future. The defense looks comparatively stable with the experience of Ward and Dann.
This season, especially with the Premier League giants losing form and tempo, it throws teams like Palace an opening to make it to the top ten or even go a step further in making it to the Europa qualification slots. Pardew has already done that once with Newcastle in the 2012/2013 season, where they finished sixth in the table.
If Palace has to really make it to the top and establish their sustainability in the division, it is high time for them to knuckle down and do that.