Under pressure: Alan Pardew’s position looking fragile at Crystal Palace

Alen Pardew's position as manager looks increasingly fragile, with the team losing six league games and conceding goals at an alarming rate

By: AP | Manchester | Published:December 1, 2016 6:33 pm
Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew at the end of the match Alan Pardew coached side has the worst points-per-game record of all teams in England’s four leagues in 2016

It took Swansea’s new American owners less than three months to make their first managerial change, installing Bob Bradley in a bid to steer the club to Premier League safety.

The U.S. businessmen in part-control of Crystal Palace have been in situ for nearly a year and now have their own coaching decision to take.

Is it time to get rid of Alan Pardew?

Pardew’s position as Palace manager looks increasingly fragile, with the team losing its last six league games and conceding goals at an alarming rate. The chaotic 5-4 loss at Bradley’s Swansea last weekend saw Palace at its infuriating worst, unable to defend set pieces or a lead going into injury time.

Pardew has reportedly held talks with Palace chairman Steve Parish, who along with American co-owners David Blitzer and Josh Harris will decide on the manager’s future. A home loss to Southampton on Saturday could drop Palace, which is currently fourth-to-last in the standings, into the relegation zone.

“They are very patient and loyal,” Pardew said two weeks ago of his American bosses, adding: “They’re not looking for a short-term fix or a quick profit margin.”

Yet, the statistics don’t make good reading for Pardew: Palace has the worst points-per-game record of all teams in England’s four leagues in 2016, has the second-worst defensive record in the Premier League (26 goals against in 13 games), and has conceded 13 goals from set pieces this season.

Pardew joined Palace in January 2015 after quitting Newcastle, where he made headlines because of his frequent flare-ups in the coaches’ technical area – including head-butting an opposing player as they jostled for a ball at a throw-in. He is calmer on the touchline now, while much of the arrogance some accused Pardew of having appears to have gone.

Palace finished in a club-record 10th place in the Premier League in Pardew’s first season in charge, then started last season well before a drastic dip in form saw it narrowly avoid relegation. A run to the FA Cup final, where Palace lost to Manchester United, spared Pardew from more scrutiny.

Palace broke its transfer record twice in the offseason to sign England winger Andros Townsend and then Belgium striker Christian Benteke. Scoring hasn’t been a problem for the team nicknamed “The Eagles,” who are the fifth-highest scorers in the league, but they can’t keep the goals out at the other end.

The loss of Pape Souare, who broke his leg in a car crash in September, has deprived Pardew of his starting left back and the coach has been unable to improve Palace’s defending at set pieces even though the team is spending more time on that area on the training ground. Three of Swansea’s goals came via that route last weekend.

Southampton, meanwhile, is buoyant after beating Arsenal 2-0 on Wednesday to reach the semifinals of the English League Cup.

Also, second-place Liverpool begins a five-week spell without playmaker Philippe Coutinho in a match at Bournemouth on Saturday, when fourth-place Arsenal visits West Ham and Tottenham hosts Swansea.

Defending champion Leicester is two points above the bottom three going into a match at last-place Sunderland.

Here are some other things to know about this weekend’s games in the 14th round of the Premier League:

MANCHESTER CITY-CHELSEA

There was no hiding Pep Guardiola’s appreciation of Antonio Conte when the Manchester City manager was asked who his major coaching rivals might be in his first season in English soccer.

“Conte is a master tactician,” Guardiola said at his presentation news conference in July. “A great signing for Chelsea.”

Guardiola has been proved correct. Chelsea arrives at Etihad Stadium on Saturday of the standout game of the round in first place, and on a seven-game winning run since switching to a three-man defense.

Guardiola cannot seem to settle on his best formation, regularly switching from a four-man defense to three at the back _ even during games. City is third in the standings.

It should be an intriguing battle between two of the most respected tacticians in soccer.

EVERTON-MANCHESTER UNITED

United captain Wayne Rooney will miss the game against his former club because of suspension after collecting his fifth booking of the season in the 4-1 win over West Ham in the League Cup on Wednesday.

Paul Pogba returns from suspension for United, however.

There could be some spikiness on the touchline, with United manager Jose Mourinho unhappy that his Everton counterpart, Ronald Koeman, has publicly said he would like to sign Rooney and fellow United player Memphis Depay.