In January 2015, Alan Pardew was appointed Crystal Palace manager on a three-and-a-half-year deal. Fast forward 22 months and it is highly unlikely that he will see out his contract. Crystal Palace’s last Premier League win came against Sunderland in September. In fact Palace have only won five Premier League games in 2016. With the players they have, Crystal Palace should not be in this situation. Pardew is confident that his future is not under threat, saying: “This is my ninth Premier League season and I want 10 with Palace.”
If this is to happen, Palace need to make serious improvements. Their defending has been atrocious. They have no clean sheets in 18 league games and have conceded 13 goals from set pieces already this season, five more than any other side. Crystal Palace’s attacking threat is unquestionable but it counts for nothing if they can’t defend basic set-pieces. They fought hard to comeback against Swansea and were 4-3 up with six minutes to go but ended up losing the match 5-4. None of the goals in this match were spectacular, but they were easily avoidable.
The problem with Palace is that they are not working together as a team. Pardew has called for Wilfried Zaha to be in contention for the England squad just because he is considering representing the Ivory Coast, his country of birth. Zaha has to play a lot better to get into either national side. He scored Palace’s first goal against Swansea, but he is still a work in progress and needs to learn to be more of a team player.
Palace finished last season in 15th place and I remain convinced that they had not had such a good start to the season, they would have been relegated. Palace made some good signings in the summer to try and put things right. They broke their transfer record to sign Christian Benteke as well as buying Yohan Cabaye, Steve Mandanda, James Tomkins and Andros Townsend. None of these signings have been terrible, but they have not been good enough. Pardew isn’t a bad manager, but he needs to make significant improvements if his side are to avoid relegation and finish in the top half of the table.
Crystal Palace currently have 11 points from 13 games and are only three points better off than bottom-placed Sunderland. The south London side also have the worst points per game ratio of any of the 92 sides in the football league in 2016.
Alan Pardew has a great relationship with Steve Parish and played for Crystal Palace for four years (1987-1991). There was also the winning goal he scored as the Eagles beat Liverpool 4-3 after extra time in the 1990 FA Cup last four. However, sentimentality should not run so deep that Pardew cannot be sacked. Morale is low among a squad that have lost six consecutive Premier League games and I don’t think he will be given much more time to turn it around. It is an unacceptable run of form when you look at the quality of players that Palace have. Something has to change.
When Alan Pardew was appointed Crystal Palace manager, Steve Parish said they had “a man who has great affection for this club and shares my determination to take us to the next level.” While those things are still true, the results are no longer reflecting this. I’m all for putting faith in a manager and not just sacking him for the sake of it, but Crystal Palace have not just had a bad few games, they have had a bad year. Their problems were masked last season by an FA Cup run that took them all the way to the final but they must put that behind them and start picking up points in the Premier League.
Crystal Palace’s next three matches are against Southampton, Hull City and Manchester United. At least five points from those games would give Alan Pardew and the team some much-needed confidence. The sooner Palace get three points, the better.