How will Alan Pardew fare at West Bromwich Albion?
Alan Pardew was announced as the West Brom boss recently, signing a contract that will keep him there until 2020. This will be Pardew's first job back in management since his dismissal from Crystal Palace 11 months ago. His first game back? Palace at home.
The 56-year-old endured a torrid 2016 with the Eagles, having only won 6 league games in the whole year, despite reaching an F.A Cup final. He finally departed Selhurst Park in December 2016 and has been taken up a punditry role in the meantime. Pardew's last two jobs at both, Newcastle and Crystal Palace have both ended with the supporters calling for his head, but will he suffer the same fate at the Hawthorns?
A calculated risk from the board?
Tony Pulis was recently sacked by the West Brom hierarchy, with Gary Megson having to stand in as caretaker manager. Megson did well during his two games in charge, earning a point against both, Spurs and Newcastle. It is clear that West Brom are not taking any risks with their new recruit.
Pardew has managed five Premier League clubs already and knows the game inside-out. However, he is known for starting well at his new club, but then his form always starts to deteriorate. During his time at the Eagles, there was speculation that his dressing room had lost faith in him, which would have played a huge part in their poor form.
West Brom have a reputation for being solid in defence, Pardew's teams, on the other hand, didn't. One of Pardew's main problems at Selhurst was the number of goals they would concede. Despite the summer signings of James Tomkins and Steve Mandanda, the Eagles leaked goals.
For example, during the weeks leading up to Pardew's departure, Palace conceded five to Swansea (including two in injury time) and three against Hull; not to mention three against Burnley. The three against Burnley even included a goal in the first, and 94th minute, showcasing the defensive vulnerability. This problem was noticed quickly by fans, who eventually lost faith in their manager towards the end of his tenure in South London. The sale of Mile Jedinak left a huge hole which evidently could not be filled until January, which unfortunately was too late for Pardew.
This was a repeat of his time at Newcastle which ultimately led him to depart the North East in December of 2014. Problems with his defence started with the departure of fan-favourite Mathieu Debuchy. Then, later on, they sent out Yanga-Mbiwa on loan to Roma; much to the fans' frustration. They added the likes of Daryl Janmaat and Jack Colback to solidify the more defensive roles, but neither were stand-out performers. Cheikh Tiote only made 12 appearances which fans, again could not get their head around, considering his defensive stature.
Whereas Pardew focuses more on the attack, Pulis was the opposite and his sole priority was his defence, which is where the problem will most likely lie. West Brom possess solid defensive players, with the likes of, Johnny Evans, Allan Nyom, Gareth McAuley, Grzegorz Krychowiak and Jake Livermore, just to name a few. With these sort of players protecting Ben Foster, you would expect Albion to be a unit in defence, but under Pardew, that is not guaranteed.
Pardew may start well at the Hawthorns, but if we are going to be completely honest, is he really a long-term replacement? It seems like a safe bet for the remainder of the 2017-18 campaign, but anything longer than that? I wouldn't bet on it.