Alan Pardew invited criticism from his Crystal Palace players amid a shocking run that saw the club turn from surprise Champions League qualification contenders to bottom-half fodder in the Premier League.
The Palace manager was flying high leading into Christmas, level on points with fourth-placed Tottenham, before enduring a 14-game winless streak in the league which ended earlier this month with a 1-0 win over relegation-threatened Norwich City.
Since, Palace have drawn both of their following two games, 0-0 and 1-1 efforts against Everton and Arsenal respectively.
But Pardew admitted to some “lively” team meetings at the start of April, in which he openly asked for criticism from his players as he searched for answers to get his team’s season back on track.
They went on to draw 2-2 away to West Ham before breaking their winless snap at home to Norwich.
“We had a couple of meetings before the West Ham draw that were lively and where there was what you would call ‘frank discussion’,” the manager said.
“I had tried a couple of different meetings and different angles, and it didn’t work. The West Ham one was more me putting in front of them the facts.
“Sometimes you really need to look at the facts in the cold light of day from somebody who is leading the group.
“It’s all well and good the media saying this and that, but that’s an opinion from somebody else.
“But when that opinion is mine and it’s backed up with facts, then I think it wakes a few up.
“We woke up at West Ham and since then we’ve looked a different side.”
And Pardew hit back at media claims that he is not open to criticism, saying he told his players he had made mistakes and asked for their opinions on his management.
“You can’t manage at this level if you’re not going to sometimes say to the players: ‘I got it wrong’,” he said.
“Maybe that game-plan was wrong. Maybe, with hindsight, I shouldn’t have gone down that road… You can’t just criticise the players who couldn’t deliver the game-plan because, sometimes, the game-plan didn’t work.
“Who’s the finger pointing at then? Players can be reluctant to criticise the manager, so you have to give them an opportunity to do it in a way that isn’t going to make them feel threatened, otherwise they might feel they’re not going to get picked.”
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