Alan Pardew said that he had not been looking for vindication for his decision to leave St James’ Park for Crystal Palace, and he did not get it either, at least not in the form of three points.
Pardew denied afterwards that tonight’s opponent made much difference to him at all. “I just came here to try to get three points,” he insisted, “that was my only focus.”
But it was hard to ignore the fact that, six weeks ago, Pardew walked out of Newcastle United to take over here instead. Pardew himself confronted it in his strikingly magnanimous programme notes. Directly addressing the Newcastle United fans, Pardew told them that he “bears no grudge” and that he would rather “move on, and cherish the good days” he had on Tyneside.
All very admirable but Pardew, surely, would have dearly loved to beat his former employers, to move two points within them in the Premier League table, to make clear that he had left a stationary big club for a smaller but upwardly-mobile one.
But it was not to be. Pardew does not have the quality at Palace that he did in his best moments at Newcastle. Despite all their effort, they created very little here, and went behind, before Pardew threw on Yannick Bolasie, their best player, just back from the African Cup of Nations.
Bolasie played in Equatorial Guinea on Saturday, in the third-place play-off in which D.R. Congo beat the hosts on penalties. Here, four days and 3,000 miles later, he turned the game. Bolasie made the equaliser for Fraizer Campbell and nearly made the winner too. He only had 22 minutes, though, and the game ended fairly as a draw.
Pardew, though, while happy with the “big point”, could find some vindication elsewhere. “I have walked away and come here,” he said, “and I enjoy myself here.” He is loved at Crystal Palace, and his name was sung throughout. The Newcastle fans, of course, did not feel the same way. Pardew laughed it off as “normal crowd banter” afterwards. John Carver said he thought the reception would have been even worse.
Newcastle finished the game on the back foot, trying to keep out a resurgent Palace side, but they were 1-0 up at the break. There had been plenty of running and energy from both sides in the first half, until the visitors supplied the only moment of any quality.
Daryl Janmaat had a busy evening, trying to hold off Wilfried Zaha, but when the roles were reversed, two minutes before the break, he took advantage. Janmaat burst down the wing, to the by-line, and pulled a cross back in towards the near post. Damien Delaney got underneath it and Papiss Cisse was unmarked to head past Julian Speroni.
Palace started the second half briskly but they were only dangerous when they made changes. Pardew introduced Dwight Gayle and then, to a standing ovation, Yannick Bolasie, making his first Palace appearance since New Year’s Day. Newcastle should have known, not least from Bolasie’s reception, how dangerous he is. But when he first got the ball out on the right, Massimo Haidara did not close him down. So Bolasie whipped in a cross and there was Campbell, sliding in, equalising for Palace.
“He is an exciting player,” Pardew said of Bolasie afterwards, “with great power and technique, and he gives you an unpredictability which I like. That was a cross of the highest order and he had no right to put in a ball of that quality from the room he had.”
Bolasie continued to push and his next cross was flicked on by Gayle to Zaha, and without Janmaat’s block he would have scored. There was one chance left, a Brede Hangeland header which Tim Krul saved. Pardew may divide these two clubs but the teams were inseparable.Reuse content