Crystal Palace claimed a very impressive 4-1 victory away at relegation-threatened Sunderland on Saturday, with winger Yannick Bolasie grabbing a hat-trick and a Glenn Murray strike giving the Eagles the victory which moved them into the safety of midtable.
The win and the performance in the North East was confirmation of the superb job that Alan Pardew has done since his arrival at Selhurst Park in January.
Just days before the Premier League campaign kicked-off Tony Pulis quit as Crystal Palace boss, after an alleged disagreement over transfer funds. The decision shocked football and left Palace fans wondering who the club would turn to next.
The Eagles turned to former-Sheffield United and Leeds boss Neil Warnock, who lasted just a few months and was sacked at the end of 2014. His replacement was former-fans favourite Alan Pardew, who was then the boss of midtable Newcastle.
Alan Pardew was highly criticised during his time in charge of Newcastle, but the lack of ambition from owner Mike Ashley did not help Pardew’s chances of success. The experienced boss almost looked like he had given up in the last few months of his reign at St James Park.
The results were not always great for Pardew in the north east and poor runs of form were common, but a tenth place finish last season was not a terrible result considering the lack of backing Pardew received from Mike Ashley.
Pardew did get money to spend last summer and brought in a host of new players. However most of the new arrivals have struggled to make an impact on the top-flight. Whether Pardew was responsible for most of the signings is a contentious issue though.
The move from the midtable security of Newcastle to Palace, who was in the bottom three, was considered a gamble by Pardew, but considering the criticism he received at Newcastle the move was understandable.
Pardew enjoyed a successful playing career at Palace and knew he would be more welcome at Selhurst Park than in the north east.
It seems that the gamble has paid-off for Alan Pardew, as his team are currently seven points above his old team in the Premier League table and on a fantastic run of form.
In the last six Premier League games, only Arsenal and Manchester United have been more productive than Palace. The Eagles have won five out of their last six league games, with just one defeat coming at Southampton.
Palace’s away record is also superb, as they have also now won five out of their last six games on their travels, which for most Premier League teams is impressive.
Palace finished last season in 11th place in the Premier League under Tony Pulis, despite being in the relegation zone when the Welshman arrived.
The Eagles have rose to a similar position and seem an even stronger side with Pardew at the helm. With six games to go the Eagles could now finish in the top ten of the top-flight, which has not happened since Pardew was playing for the Londoners.
Although Pulis’ style is associated with direct football, the Eagles played some good football under the Welshman utilising wingers like Jason Puncheon and the mercurial Bolasie. Pardew has taken on that style and improved it.
Palace are now a team that are easy on the eye and getting victories as well. The Eagles are just three points behind their whole points total from last season. On current form they look set to break through that barrier this season.
Pardew joked about his team playing just like Brazil against Sunderland. I take it he meant playing attractive, attacking football and not a vulnerability in defence.
Pardew’s style of football at Palace seems a long way away from his style at Newcastle. Palace seems to play with a lot of freedom and attacking intent. At Newcastle in the last season and a half anyway Pardew looked rather cautious in his approach.
Pardew’s tenure in charge at Selhurst Park has to be considered a success so far. The challenge for the former-Newcastle boss will be to carry the success into next season and attempt to establish Palace as a Premier League club, only then can his reign at Palace be properly assessed.
Is Crystal Palace a better team under Pardew than they were under Tony Pulis?