Comment - Alan Pardew destined to go down as one of West Brom's worst ever managers
Alan Pardew is destined to go down as one of the worst managers in Albion’s history, if not the worst.
His record of three wins in 21 games leaves him with the joint-lowest win percentage alongside Nobby Stiles. It’s even worse than Pep Mel’s three in 17.
But two of Pardew’s wins came in the FA Cup, and one of those was against a team in the fourth tier. Stiles picked up more draws too.
The results speak for themselves. Pardew has taken the club from just above the relegation zone to adrift at the bottom of the table, 10 points from safety.
But his disastrous four-month tenure will be remembered for far more than just the defeats.
Off-field controversies and high-profile fall-outs with senior players lost him respect in the dressing room.
Pardew may have been a great PR man in the press room, where he said all the right things, particularly early on, but it masked his deficiencies in the dugout.
He was obsessed with being everything Tony Pulis was not, because he thought that was what the fans wanted, and it proved to be his downfall.
There was an early warning sign when he played three strikers in his first game in charge, not because it was tactically the right thing to do against Crystal Palace, but because he wanted to make a ‘little bit of a statement’.
He persisted with two strikers after that, even for games when it left the team overrun in midfield.
It wasn’t until Chris Brunt’s furious rant in the dressing room after the home defeat to Huddersfield that he realised he needed to adapt.
The way he treated young players like Sam Field and Oliver Burke was borderline disgraceful.
Field was playing well when he arrived, and had just scored against Newcastle, but he shunted the young fan favourite out to left wing at Swansea, his second game in charge, in order to manufacture his removal from the side.
The teenager was hooked at half-time and wasn’t seen again until a trip to champions-in-waiting Manchester City, where he was made a sacrificial lamb.
Before the game, Pardew asked Field over and over again if he was ‘s***ing himself’ in front of the rest of the squad. If this was supposed to be a motivational tool, it was grossly misjudged.
Burke, too, was publicly shamed for crossing the ball into the box against West Ham in injury time with the scores level, just days after Pardew had urged his team to take more risks in order to win games.
The Hammers went up the other end and scored, but it was not the rest of team’s fault, who let the hosts sweep through them with ease, it was Burke’s.
His mistreatment of the youngsters didn’t go down well with the rest of the squad.
Those senior professionals Pardew put all his trust in, repaid him by questioning his authority.
Barcelona was the nadir. Not only was it booked because Pardew expected the team to lose to Liverpool in the FA Cup, he then decided to go through with it even though Albion only had four full days in between games.
Taxi-gate is destined to go down in Albion folklore, and the players deserve to shoulder a lot of the blame for this season, but those early-morning actions show exactly the sort of atmosphere Pardew had created at the club.
Afterwards, the head coach claimed they broke a 12am curfew, but there has been some suggestion that no such curfew was ever in place.
The night before, Pardew had lost his wallet, phone, and jacket on an evening out.
Albion trained for three hours in total. It was a booze cruise intended to build morale, but it turned into a nightmare.
Pardew’s reaction was unsatisfactory. By keeping Jonny Evans and Gareth Barry in the team for the FA Cup game against Southampton days later, he proved himself to be a spineless leader.
He had no control of his squad, even then, and should have been sacked after that ill-advised trip.
Fans started to see through the PR which had initially won them round, and players too began to openly criticise him.
Eyewitnesses claim Grzegorz Krychowiak told him to ‘f*** off’ when Pardew hooked him during the home match with Leicester.
The Pole, who had played quite well in the first half, hasn’t been seen since.
On Saturday, when Pardew changed formation several times in a disastrous first half, his orders were received with confused looks by those on the pitch.
Two board members have already lost their jobs partly because he was employed, and now Pardew has finally left.
The smooth operator who took Albion on a rough ride, he’s been a dead man walking for some weeks now.
Hopefully it will bring about a positive finish to a poisonous season, as fans rally around Darren Moore for the final six games.
Pardew, meanwhile, will struggle to get another job in the top tier after this. And he is surely destined to go down as one of Albion’s worst ever managers.