Pardew On Hiding To Nothing As Crystal Palace Take On Dover
If one wanted to choose the best place to start your managerial career then the Crabble Stadium would not be necessarily up at the top of the list. Added to which, when facing a side unbeaten in the last sixteen matches and when your team’s last win was eight games ago, the scent of a giant killing hangs ominously in the sea air.
For the new manager, who built his reputation as a player with his own slice of toppling a goliath in 1990, there is no time to have a comfortable settling-in period. Alan Pardew finally arrived at Selhurst after some legal wrangling and has been thrust straight into an FA Cup cauldron.
He is on a hiding to nothing, as a Premier League club, however shaky their form, should always overcome a non-league team. Yet there are plenty of precedents and portents that could upset the natural order.
Even though he is the manager, with so little time to prepare this is not Pardew’s team and it will take him a while to make his mark. If we lose against Dover he will be castigated, win and there will be nothing made of it. A draw is possibly the worst outcome, as it would add an unwanted addition to the fixture list and a fair amount of scorn.
It will be interesting to see what sort of team he puts out, with the recent trend of higher division teams putting out reserves and giving youth players a chance, that may be tempting fate. The fact that Pardew will want to have a close look at his new charges may mean a slightly stronger line-up than would be the norm.
The key to such a fixture is generating the right attitude and if there is one aspect that is his strong suit then it is attitude. Never the most gifted of players he forged his reputation on hard work and in his managerial career he is known for not being a pushover and the odd bout of pugilism. Just ask David Meyler or Manuel Pelligrini or Arsene Wenger.
Dover are a bit of an unknown quantity, but mid-table in the Conference is respectable and any team that has such a strong unbeaten run must be a force to be reckoned with and their confidence will be higher than Palace’s. They are certain to exert a great deal of pressure early on and providing we can withstand that, use our pace down the flanks and strength in the middle, we should dominate which will be an unusual experience for a side used to minimal possession.
Then the big question is who might score a goal, as they have been as common as hen’s teeth recently. A midfielder knocking one in from a corner might be the most appropriate way to welcome back Super Al.
Richard’ first book, The A-Z of Football Hates is out now and available in bookshops and online