Alan Pardew recognises there is a “need to get my flag up the pole” to raise his managerial profile after admitting he has taken over at West Bromwich Albion with a point to prove following his dismissal by Crystal Palace last year.
Speaking on the day he was presented as Tony Pulis’s successor, Pardew also vowed to change West Brom’s style of play by introducing a brand of attacking football that “frees up this team”.
Sporting a beard and sounding reinvigorated after 11 months away from the dugout, Pardew made all the right noises as he reflected on the club’s rich history, rowing back over the days when Bryan Robson, Laurie Cunningham and Cyrille Regis were playing for Albion, and outlined his plans to inject some flair and excitement into the side.
In a strange twist, Pardew’s first game in charge is against Palace at The Hawthorns on Saturday and it was clear the 56-year-old remains upset about the decision to sack him on 22 December. Palace had lost eight out of 10 matches, and 22 over the calendar year, to drop to within a point of the relegation zone when Pardew departed.
“I did feel a little bit harshly done by on that decision,” he said. “You can justify it by saying on that particular run I had to go, and that’s how the media is, but sometimes as a manager with the relationship you have, I felt I had a bit more trust than that.
“I was disappointed to lose my job at Palace, I really was. I think although we were on a difficult run, we had finished 10th, we had got to a Cup final. I felt I deserved more time but I didn’t get it.”
Palace were in the relegation zone when Pardew was appointed in January 2015 and West Brom’s position is almost as precarious. Pardew said his “immediate concern is to halt this run and get some points on the board”, yet he also promised to set his side up to play in a way that feels far removed from Pulis’s approach.
“The most important fact is to win games, that’s the bottom line,” Pardew said. “Tony does that very well but he does it in a different manner to me. My best teams play on the front foot and try to put teams under pressure. They sometimes get a bloody nose in doing that. And that’s what I’ll deliver here at West Brom. Hopefully somewhere along that line we can get up to 1.5 or 1.7 points a game. I’ve achieved that in the past at certain times with clubs and that’s what I’ll try to do here.
“I think when I went back into Crystal Palace it was something similar. They were playing quite a rigid game and I freed it up a little bit. I hope to free up this team a little bit more if I can. That’s easier said than done because we need to start winning games to do that.”
Pardew had an impressive initial impact at Palace before results tailed off and it was put to him his time at Selhurst Park is representative of how he his perceived by some – namely a manager who can engender a reaction from players in the short term but not sustain those sort of positive results over a longer period.
“I think that’s a little bit unfair. When I left Newcastle, people still came up, some geordie fans, saying: ‘We’re disappointed you got the sack’. I didn’t get the sack, I left, and when I did leave we were ninth,” said Pardew, who has appointed John Carver as his assistant at West Brom.
“With the clubs I’ve managed you’re going to get difficult spells. I’ve not been fortunate enough to be at Arsenal or Liverpool, where you can win 70-80 % of your games. You’re going to have spells where you have to dig in and at times at Newcastle, Mike Ashley [the owner] did very well for me, stuck by me, and in the end I managed to turn it around. I’m open‑minded, I don’t think I’m perfect by any stretch of the imagination but I hope I’m a good manager for West Brom.”
Pardew said he had turned down a couple of offers to return to management before agreeing a two-and-a-half year contract. “I wanted to make sure when I went back in it was an opportunity with people I really felt comfortable with, [such as] John Williams, the chairman here, and of course Nicky Hammond [the technical director], who I worked with at Reading. I class him as not only a great working professional but also a friend.”
As for Pardew’s England ambitions, which he has spoken about in the past, they are very much on the backburner. “You see how quickly your profile can change in the Premier League, it changes dramatically,” he said. “I look at Sean Dyche now, his profile is really high and he’s doing superbly, and mine isn’t at the moment. I’ve just walked into a club so I need to get my flag up the pole but my ambitions are not actually about that [the England job]. My ambitions at the moment are to get this club moving forward and I don’t think you can look further than that.”
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