English football's cabal of Keys and Gray-endorsed elderly Football Men have been busy shuffling bosses of late. Tony Pulis is the fall-guy at the moment, yet you'd imagine he will be parachuted into whichever side looks like being relegated near the end of the season. (Our bet is Swansea). Elsewhere, Sam Allardyce is at Everton, Roy Hodgson at Palace, David Moyes at West Ham, and today, it has been confirmed that Alan 'Pards' Pardew has pitched up at West Brom. (Succeeding Pulis).
Now that Pards is back in our lives, we will recall a tale that sums up his preening arrogance. Much of it is, you might say, distilled into that dance during the FA Cup final against Man United, to which the mirror evidently offered Pards some misleading testimony.
But a better story exists from his West Ham days, and is told by a man called Stevie Bacon, who spent thirty years as West Ham's official photographer. Five years ago, he published a book regaling some of the stories he found himself privy to at the club, entitled There's Only One Stevie Bacon.
We are indebted to the ever-excellent Football365 for last year digging up this gem from the book, which speaks volumes on The Nature of Pards.
Here it is, as Pards goes all Omar Little.
Let me tell you a story. In fact, it’s called the ‘King story’ among those who were present and who believe it’s a perfect example of Pardew’s arrogance. We were staying at a hotel in the North East ahead of a game at Sunderland during Alan’s first season in charge and were about to have our Friday evening meal…I sat down with Pardew…and fitness coach Tony Strudwick, who now works for Manchester United and has done very well for himself. We ordered our meals and suddenly Pardew asked us all what were were having. I think Eddie said he’d gone for the chicken, while I’d chosen the steak.
‘Pards then turned to Struds, who revealed whatever it was he’d asked for. ‘That sounds good,’ said Pards. ‘Tell you what; if yours is better than mine when it turns up, I’m having that. That was one of the things he’d always say: I’m having that. ‘See that bloke’s haircut. I’m having that.’ He said it all the time. Anyway, I wasn’t ‘having that’ at all. So I said ‘Well, you’re certainly not having my dinner. You’ll get a fork in the back of your hand!’ Pardew sort of laughed, before turning back to Struds and saying, ‘Yeah, if yours is better than mine, I’m having that.’
‘Our meals eventually arrived and Pards looked at Tony and said, ‘Yeah, I was right, yours definitely looks much better than mine; I’m having that.’ And he went to swap the plates over. ‘You can’t do that!’ I said. ‘What do you mean?’ he asked. ‘You can’t just take somebody’s else’s dinner,’ I said in disbelief. And he replied, without any hint of a joke, ‘When you’re the King, you can do anything.’
You come at the king, you best not fail to share your food.
Magnificent. That said, perhaps this style is what makes Pards the manager that he is. That is certainly the view of Britain's Greatest Manager Turned Corporate Guru Alex Ferguson, who wrote in his desultory book, Leading:
Last season, I took it upon myself to offer Alan Pardew some unsolicited advice before he left Newcastle United to take the helm at Crystal Palace. I asked him, 'What's happened to you? You don't argue with anybody anymore. You've given in. You've chucked it. If you want to keep your job, start being Alan Pardew'. He phoned me up a couple of weeks later and said, 'thanks'. He didn't need to. I know how difficult this job is. I am always happy to help a fellow manager.
Welcome back, Pards.