A year ago today, Alan Pardew stood in the dugout for his first game in charge as Crystal Palace manager, leaving Newcastle (who were in ninth place), to work for a side sitting in eighteenth and facing the very real prospect of relegation. With Palace having only won three of nineteen games, Pardew admitted that friends in football had questioned his rationale in joining the south London club, but he stood by his instincts and since then, has never looked back.
As an outsider looking in, the changes at Palace under Pardew are obvious. Seventh in the Premier League and playing an attacking style of football which leaves fans on the edge of their seats. But to find out what it’s been like inside the Eagles camp, we spoke to some of those at Palace who have witnessed the changes made by 'Super Al'.
Assistant Manager, Keith Millen:
“As soon as he came in, because of his experience and success, it gave the place and the players a big lift. The positivity was there from the start because of the way Alan is and the players really responded. He gives people trust if he thinks they can do a job, but he’s very clear on each person’s role within the club and what he demands of the players. When he came in he told everyone individually what he wanted and how he wanted to work - if you can do that great, if you couldn’t, there needed to be changes.
“As an assistant manager I’ve learnt a lot from the previous managers but I’ve learnt the most under Alan, especially his attitude towards work and games. He is very clear on what he wants tactically - match days is where good managers earn their money and he makes more right decisions than wrong decisions and it’s great to be working alongside that.”
Head of Sport Science and Strength & Conditioning, Scott Guyett:
“He’s a manager that keeps everyone on their toes. He has an aura around him and I think that’s a healthy thing at a football club. We’ve always had a good bunch of lads who are prepared to work hard, but I feel it’s been taken to a new level. I see it in training on a day-to-day basis, when the lads go out to train there is no player who trains thinking he can get away with not working to his maximum, every player knows they have to be on it because the manager notices everything.
“Since Alan has come in he and the chairman have gone over and above what I expected to be done in terms of the training facilities. There was no doubt the training ground needed improvement, but I didn’t think it’d be taken to the levels it’s at now and that’s come from the manager.”
Centre Back, Scott Dann:
“The belief he gave to the lads from the moment he came here was instrumental. He gave us a lift when we were in the relegation zone and his ambition was clear for everyone to see. He wanted us to go out and attack teams and be on the front foot and try and dominate games and I think we’ve gone from strength to strength because of that. He is really thorough in training and lets you know what he expects from you.
“Around the club everything has changed. There was a lot of things that needed improving and once we started getting the results on the pitch things quickly got put in place. We’ve got new pitches this year, a new gym, the changing rooms have changed and it’s become a better environment to work in.
“No one was expecting us to be where we are in the league and that’s a result of the foundation the manager, chairman and players have built. The club is going forward at such a quick rate and the manager is integral to that. When I signed a five-year contract it's not something you take lightly, and the manager was a big part in my decision - I knew I was in the right place and (even though there was interest from other clubs) I knew I never wanted to leave."