At Southampton Alan Pardew showed he could manage away from the riches of the Premier League. No wonder, writes Stuart Rayner, Mike Ashley soon came calling.
ALAN Pardew was asked yesterday if he had been “scarred” by being sacked as manager of League One Southampton.
“I was quite happy about it, if I’m honest,” he replied.
With a comment like that, you might think Pardew would be happy never to see the South Coast town again, but in fact that only seems to apply to Italian chairman Nicola Cortese.
Had Pardew not been rather harshly shown the door by the Saints months earlier , it is questionable whether he would ever be addressing the media at Newcastle United’s training ground.
Of all the qualities Mike Ashley and Derek Llambias saw in the Londoner when they needed a new manager in December 2010, perhaps the most appealing was the fact he was out of work, and therefore available without the need for compensation.
What reception Pardew will get from the home fans remains to be seen, but he is proud of the work he did for them.
“I thought I’d done a good job,” he replies when asked to elaborate on his surprising statement. “And it was proving to be very, very difficult to work with the owner.”
That “good job” probably caught the eye of Newcastle’s Moneyball-influenced owners as much as his exploits with Reading and West Ham United.
Dredged up undiscovered talents hidden away in low-profile leagues (be they English or continental) is what the entire business plan hangs on.
Pardew took Southampton to within seven points of the League One play-offs in his only full season in charge. For fallen giants – Pardew thinks their training ground is the “equal” of Newcastle’s – it was hardly much of an achievement, until you bear in mind that when he took over in the summer their post-administration points totally was minus ten. And he did take them to Wembley, destroying Carlisle United to win the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.
More important than what Pardew did while he was there was the legacy has bequeathed Nigel Adkins. He is still drawing on it now.
“The most overriding factor for me was the players I left behind – I’m talking (José) Fonte, (Adam) Lallana, Kelvin (Davies), (Rickie) Lambert, (Jason) Puncheon, who I took to the club,” Pardew says with pride in his voice.
“They are all in the first team and I am very, very proud of that because they are all terrific lads and have all done really, really well.
“And I think they have improved this year, probably enough for the club to stay in the Premier League.”