Pardew – Gone But Not Forgotten

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To Effra, Alan Pardew may not even got as far as the dreaded “vote of confidence” but West Ham will always owe him thanks.

I hope that Alan Pardew knows how many West Ham fans are gutted for him. I hope enough stand up and make that clear on Sunday. I hope that Magnusson understands the magnitude of what he has done in doing this, and what the consequences may be if it turns out disastrously (and that includes appointing Sven even before a ball has been kicked under that possible regime).

On a sunny Saturday afternoon in May, the West Ham army stood together in Cardiff, a twenty-six year old dream in our grasp, and thought that Alan Pardew was our own footballing god. How in two days short of six months we got from that last exquisite moment of happiness before Scaloni sportingly put the ball out of play to Pardew’s departure, maybe we’ll never quite know. On that beautiful day (strangely more beautiful in retrospect that fortune found its hiding place after all) who, whatever their understanding of football’s enduring capacity to astonish, could possibly have conceived that by the time Christmas arrived the club’s ownership would have changed forever, and that Pardew would have lost the dressing-room and ultimately his job?

Whoever ultimately gets to write the history of these six months will though I am sure conclude that Pardew, whatever his mistakes, didn’t deserve his fate. You can’t blame him for the fact that half the first-choice players missed most of the pre-season, or Ashton’s injury, or the excellent chances that different players have missed at 0-0 in a succession of winnable games. Thanks to Terry Brown’s ludicrous courting of Joorabchian, Pardew spent the best part of two months as a dead-man walking at a time when he needed to be asserting his authority over players who were losing their way.

The question is what happened once the Icelanders misleadingly appeared to save him? Of course things have taken a turn for the worse, but it’s a poor precedent for the new owners to already make promises they can’t keep just to get a good bit of press.

After the first win under the new regime, Pardew said in his post-match interview that now was the chance to get to grips with some issues at the club that had so far gone unaddressed. As this came a few days after the announcement that Roy Carroll was in rehab for gambling and drinking problems, and giving the rumours coming out of Upton Park about a gambling culture, something Pardew himself did nothing to deny in that weekend’s newspapers, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that Pardew felt emboldened finally to confront rather than indulge the players about their extra-football habits.

What followed was more of the passionless, mentally-aberrant, disinterested football that got us into this mess in the first place and that momentarily abated when the Argentineans were dropped. It’s hard to blame Pardew for the problem of young men with too much money in their pockets, too much time to fritter away, and too little in their brains to see how easily self-destruction comes to those who think themselves invincible. But it was his job to deal with the consequences of what has happened to the players at West Ham this season, and to see that the various problems between the players, between him and the players, and between him and the old board couldn’t be seen in isolation from each other.

Tough talk from Pardew over the past few weeks certainly didn’t produce tough decisions, but that would have been a damn sight easier if Gabbidon and Ferdinand hadn’t been injured for, and Bowyer hadn’t gone down ill before, the Bolton game. Magnusson seems though little interested in the complexity of the facts.

Sure – maybe he knows more than we do, but some facts most West Ham fans do get: Alan Pardew gave many of the best season of our lives, and when the Iranian-Israeli vultures hovered, at the risk of his job, he stood up for our club and everything we want it to be. Part of you became one of us, Alan. You belong now in West Ham legend, and from the bottom of my heart, thanks.