‘Eddie Howe hasn’t been in charge of a club like Newcastle… it’s hard!’ Alan Pardew on torment at the Toon, his new gig in Bulgaria – and the quest for one more big job in English football
- Alan Pardew previously managed Newcastle United and guided them to fifth
- During Pardew’s time at the helm he also made the Europa League quarter-finals
- Pardew says Eddie Howe will find it ‘difficult’ as he hasn’t managed a ‘big club’
- Pardew also says this Newcastle team look ‘short’ and are in need of new players
Alan Pardew has taken refuge in a coffee shop just north of the Arctic Circle to avoid the bitter wind whistling down the fjord and through the streets of the Norwegian city of Bodo.
CSKA Sofia are preparing for a Europa Conference League match and their director of football is reflecting on a year helping one of the great names from Europe’s east, 31 times national champions, back to the top after financial meltdown dumped them into the third tier of Bulgarian football in 2015.
‘This club had great moments in the past, famous games against Liverpool and Bayern Munich, but it’s a long, long way back there,’ Pardew tells Sportsmail. ‘This level suits us at the moment and it’s significant. The difference between qualifying for Europe and not can be as much as half a million pounds.’
Alan Pardew previously managed Newcastle United and guided them to a fifth-placed finish
During Pardew’s (middle) time at the helm he also made it to the Europa League last eight
CSKA went on to lose 2-0 in sub-zero temperatures on Bodo/Glimt’s artificial pitch, but Monday’s clash at Ludogorets, Bulgarian champions for the last 10 years, was already looming large. ‘That’s our biggest target,’ says Pardew.
‘We’ve been playing catch-up. And the owner of Ludogorets owns the TV company with the rights to Bulgarian football, so we have to play uphill. How can that be right?
‘But we won the Cup last season and beat them in the semi-final and we’ll run them close this season. We’ve put together a quality team on quite a low budget and these head-to-head games will probably determine where the title goes.’
More than three years have passed since Pardew worked in English football. He was sacked by West Bromwich Albion after five months, unable to rescue them from an awful start to their 2017-18 campaign.
Pardew says Eddie Howe (above) will find it ‘difficult’ because he hasn’t managed a ‘big club’
‘I feel a bit aggrieved because, for whatever reason, people turned their backs on me after West Brom,’ says the 60-year-old. ‘You can be dealt a bad hand as a manager. Look at David Moyes at Sunderland and now look at him at West Ham. He’s been given another chance.’
The managerial careers of Pardew and Moyes unfolded in parallel, starting in the third tier in the 1990s, and winning promotion with Reading and Preston respectively before stepping up to the Premier League.
‘David is a great guy, perfect for West Ham. He’s got a good hand this time and can play it well because he has the quality and experience. I haven’t had that chance again and I’m hoping it comes because I’m still hungry. I’m not wary of going back in. I can do a good job.’
Pardew has delivered success to most clubs he has managed. Promotion with Reading, FA Cup finals with West Ham and Crystal Palace, silverware at Southampton for the first time in 34 years.
At Newcastle, his team finished fifth, and went on to the Europa League last eight before star players Demba Ba and Yohan Cabaye were sold, and supporters turned on him as an agent of despised owner Mike Ashley. Sound familiar?
Pardew also says the Newcastle team (above) ‘look short’ and are in need of new players
However, he says it will be difficult to acquire new players in the January transfer window
‘Newcastle were ninth when I left but it was the right move because the fans were done with me. I might be the only person who knew exactly what Steve Bruce was going through because the same thing happened to me because of Mike.
‘Monday to Friday wasn’t a problem, it was a lovely experience, lovely people. Then Saturday comes and you’ve got to win.
‘Eddie Howe, with all due respect, hasn’t managed a big club and will find that difficult, particularly because the team look short. He needs personnel and that is difficult in January.
‘Newcastle fans have been dreaming of an era when they can compete with the top clubs and under Mike they never had that. Now they have it if the new owners are true to their word. Good luck to them. With big finance and the support, Eddie has every chance of making the club a success and I really hope he pulls it off.’
In 2014, Pardew was ready to get out of Tyneside, quitting for Palace and leading them from the relegation mire to finish 10th.
‘I needed a new challenge and it was the right move,’ he says. ‘I would put that season as a whole on a par with the season when we finished fifth, albeit under different circumstances. Someone said I was the only manager to keep two sides in the Premier League in one season.’
Pardew has delivered success to most clubs he has managed: promotion with Reading, FA Cup finals with West Ham and Palace, and silverware at Southampton for the first time in 34 years
One year on and he was leading his team out to face Manchester United at Wembley. ‘We’d done marvellous to get there,’ he says. ‘We should’ve at least taken it to penalties but, in the end, that final didn’t reflect well on me.’
When Jason Puncheon fired Palace ahead with 12 minutes remaining, Pardew performed a now-notorious touchline boogie, a shoulder-rolling shuffle that became an internet sensation and has haunted him. ‘It lasted about three seconds but in super slow-mo it seems to go on for ever. It looks like I think we’ve won it.
‘Perhaps it’s an example of how social media can hurt you because it has hurt me. Anyone who knows me will tell you that’s not really a reflection of what I’m about. I’m more professional than that.’
Juan Mata equalised and Jesse Lingard won it late in extra-time with echoes of 1990, when Pardew was a Palace player, seven minutes from victory in the FA Cup final when Mark Hughes levelled and United won the replay.
Then there was 2006. His West Ham were 3-2 up against Liverpool in the 91st minute of the FA Cup final in the Millennium Stadium, seconds from glory when Steven Gerrard scored from 30 yards.
‘What can you do? Tactically, we set up right. The players produced fantastic performances. We couldn’t have come any closer. Fate. I’ve been unlucky in the Cup and it is painful.
Newcastle United are set to take on Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal side on Saturday lunchtime
‘For the club and the fans, it is massive. You can’t put a price on the feeling of going to an FA Cup final. Even in defeat it’s become iconic for West Ham fans. You wouldn’t believe how many people want to talk to me about it whenever I go there. They loved it.’
West Ham lost on penalties and the manager was gone before the year was out, ousted by new owners, a consortium of Icelandic bankers led by Eggert Magnusson. ‘The Egg,’ quips Pardew. ‘We never got on from the day he arrived and told me he didn’t like eight of my team.’
After the heartbreak, the abuse and the difficult owners, it must be tempting to sit tight in an executive role where the stress of expectation lies firmly with CSKA manager Stoycho Mladenov.
Pardew has other things to keep him busy, actively involved in the planning stages of a new stadium, bringing experience from England, media duties and recruitment. There is a scouting mission to Morocco on the horizon.
Yet the ambition burns, reinforced by an encounter with Roy Hodgson, last month, when they were among the guests as Crystal Palace opened their new £20million academy.
‘I want to manage again,’ insists Pardew. ‘I look at Roy, who coached Palace with real credit into his 70s, and think that can give me another 10 years.
‘I’m enjoying this role and it works well for me. The manager has my full support and I know the pressures he is under. I’m not trying to replace him, but if an opportunity arose elsewhere that gave me an opportunity with a good hand, I’d like to take it.’
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