Casino encounter offers football's Mr Motivator a final throw of the dice

Newcastle are Alan Pardew's last chance to realise his potential.

Mark Fleming
Thursday 09 December 2010 01:00

Just when Alan Pardew's decline had appeared to be terminal, he has popped up again on the verge of the unlikeliest of comebacks, soon to be appointed as the new manager of Newcastle United.

Five years ago, Pardew was one of the most highly rated young English managers around, after his idiosyncratic approach – involving plenty of motivational mumbo-jumbo – led West Ham United to promotion to the Premier League.

However his fall from grace was such that in August this year, he was sacked by the League One side Southampton amid reports of unrest among staff at the club.

Appropriately enough his change in luck came about in a casino. It was there that he allegedly struck up a friendship with the Newcastle director Derek Llambias. This friendship has now landed the former Reading, West Ham, Charlton Athletic and Southampton manager a remarkable return to the top flight, where he was last seen taking Charlton down in 2007.

The choice of Newcastle owner Mike Ashley to appoint Pardew is not quite as unexpected as his decision to hand the job to Joe Kinnear two years ago, but it is not far off it. Pardew is certainly not short of confidence, and has the ego required to take on the powerful Newcastle dressing room. However he is a controversial figure who has a habit of rubbing people up the wrong way, and can often say things he swiftly regrets, such as his inappropriate use of the word "rape" on Match of the Day 2 last year.

Pardew was born in Wimbledon in 1961 and worked as a glazier and a cab driver while playing for several non-league clubs in south London. He eventually signed for Crystal Palace and carved out a career as a midfield workhorse before hanging up his boots in 1998.

His managerial career began at Reading not long after Tommy Burns was sacked, and Pardew took over following a successful spell as caretaker. He swiftly transformed the club, with his emphasis on increased fitness, better organisation and a liking for motivational messages, using exerpts from speeches by Winston Churchill and Martin Luther King pinned to the walls of the changing room at the club's training ground.

He coined the phrase "Tenacity, Spirit and Flair" to sum up his philosophy, and in 2003 he quit Reading to take over at West Ham.

It took a while for Pardew's methods to take root at Upton Park, but in his second season at the club they gained promotion through the play-offs, and in his third they reached the FA Cup final, in 2006, which they lost on penalties to Liverpool after a 3-3 draw.

At that point, Pardew was at the peak of his powers. His fall from grace was swift, however. Pardew bought himself a new Ferrari and lost focus, winning only four more games at West Ham before he was sacked in December 2006 by the new owner Eggert Magnusson.

Pardew had clashed with West Ham's Icelandic owners over the deadline-day purchase of Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano, a deal struck without his knowledge. Pardew made his point by sticking the pair in the reserves, which with the benefit of hindsight was perhaps not the best move. Things have not gone well for Pardew since.

He was out of work for less than two weeks when he was appointed manager of Charlton on Christmas Eve but he took them down five months later, finished mid-table in the Championship in 2008, and was sacked in November of that year.

After eight months out in which he re-examined his approach to management, Southampton offered him the opportunity to return in July 2009, where he did well in demanding circumstances. By all accounts, he had lost his more outlandish quirks and learnt from the mistakes of the past but he still kept the "positive thinking" posters. Then came his sacking in August, two days after a 4-0 victory over Bristol Rovers, amid rumour staff were unhappy with his behaviour. The perfect qualifications for a job at Newcastle, some might say.

Pardew's record

1999 Took over at Reading.

2002 Won promotion to Division One.

2003 Moved to West Ham United.

2005 Guided Hammers to Premier League after play-off final victory.

2006 Led West Ham to FA Cup final, where they lost to Liverpool on penalties. Later sacked; moved to Charlton.

2007 Relegated with Addicks, departed the club the following year.

2009 Named Southampton manager.* 2010 Guided Saints to FL Trophy and close to promotion. Sacked in August.

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