On Thursday afternoon, Crystal Palace confirmed that manager Alan Pardew had been sacked with immediate effect.
Pardew leaves the Eagles after almost two years at the club, having arrived at Selhurst Park from Newcastle United (who were on the brink of sacking him anyway) in January 2015.
He departs with Palace currently sitting in 17th place in the Premier League, after a run of eight defeats in ten Premier League matches that has left them hovering just one point above Sunderland in the relegation zone.
Indeed, the last few years of Pardew’s managerial career have been typified by streaky periods (both good and bad) such as this – prior to taking the Palace job in the 2014/15 season, his Newcastle side had followed up a five-game winning run with emerging victorious from just two of their next eight. The year before, they lost eleven of their final fifteen fixtures but still managed to finish tenth.
That sort of bizarre form carried over with Pardew to Selhurst Park – this time last year they were sixth place, at the beginning of 2016 they were in fifth (above Manchester United and Liverpool) and pushing for a European place.
— Sky Sports News HQ (@SkySportsNewsHQ) December 22, 2016
What followed was a monumental collapse that they never recovered from.
In the second half of last season (i.e. 19 matches), Crystal Palace won twice – against Norwich in April, and Stoke in May. They lost twelve (including to the Newcastle team Pardew left behind), and drew a further five.
From a position of fifth at the turn of the year, Palace plummeted to 15th in the table and avoided relegation by five points. But for the run to the FA Cup final, Pardew might well have lost his job there and then.
Despite significant summer investment on the likes of Christian Benteke, Andros Townsend and James Tomkins, this season saw little in the way of improvement.
Their customary unbeaten period, five games in August/September, was sandwiched in between losing their first two games of the season and the horrendous run that has led chairman Steve Parish to take decisive action.
The stats above are dismal. They show that:
- Crystal Palace won the fewest number of games of any (non-relegated/promoted in the summer) Premier League club in 2016 – fewer even than permanently troubled Sunderland.
- They have the lowest points per game ratio of any club in England’s top four leagues for the calendar year.
With Pardew gone, Parish and the Palace board are now likely to turn to serial firefighter Sam Allardyce to oversee the club’s January transfer window and drag them out of relegation trouble, just as he did at Sunderland last season.