Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Ten Under Pards

The eagerly-awaited press conference unveiling Alan Pardew was a bit of an anti-climax, failing to reveal much that was new or surprising. No doubt more information will leak out over the coming days, though Xmas print deadlines probably imply the Fulham programme will still contain some Les Reed Prozone-inspired nonsense.

As an occasionally humourous blogger (we'll be the judge of that - Ed.) the one problem I have with Pardew is he is difficult to parody unlike our previous two managers. It was easy to satirise Dowie's unfortunate looks and deadly earnestness, whilst Reed's schoolmasterly style and unpolished media image were obvious targets too. As for Pards, he has that air of confidence bordering ever so closely on arrogance which I am struggling to poke fun at, for now at least. In short he's just the type of manager we've been crying out for.

There was plenty to like in Pardew comments, not least an obvious dose of realism ("I think you have to accept that the odds are stacked against us") and a willingness to offer our underperforming squad a drink at the last-chance saloon ("'Can I save them?' I believe I can and I'll be doing everything in my power to do that.") We don't have the finances to construct an entirely new team in January so maximising what we have is key.

He acknowledged in stark terms the task that faces us. Although today's surprise home defeats for Sheff Utd and West Ham have probably reduced our 'safety target' by a point or two, Pardew is probably accurate when he says we need to win at least half of our remaining games ie. ten. Assuming we will not beat Man Utd, Arsenal, Chelsea or Liverpool, it's clearly an enormous task to win ten of the remaining fifteen fixtures (or some lesser combination involving a fair number of draws). Would it be much of a surprise therefore if the rumoured £1m bonus for Premiership survival was actually true?

The future of Robson, Kinsella et al remains unclear and rightly so, though one would have to sympathise with Kins if he is swiftly cast aside ("I am very focused, my philosophy is very complicated with what I do and I need people who are good enough to be able to go along with that.")

Many fans (me included) believed that our chance of securing Pardew's services had gone following three terrible defeats on the spin after his West Ham dismissal. It wasn't clear why an ambitious young manager would want to climb aboard a sinking ship, but he seemed to put those concerns to rest ("I didn't expect to be back in management so quickly, but Charlton is the perfect scenario for me and really it just snowballed quickly from the first discussions.")

Upon reflection however, Pardew has plenty in common with Curbs in terms of the realistic scope of his managerial ambitions. Although a few years younger and less experienced, Pardew is unlikely ever to be offered a truly 'top job' in England, so just like Curbs the option of taking on a lesser club but one that offers little personal upheaval is an attractive one. However based upon nothing other than intuition, I have a feeling that Pards won't see out his full three-and-a-half year contract at Charlton, let alone come near to matching Curbs' 15 years at the helm. But if he can pull off perhaps the survival task to beat all survival tasks, then will we really care?

I will spare you all a detailed preview of the Fulham game but the ten wins under Pards need to start soon and preferably here. Derek 'Killer' Hales (KillerWatch© -£451) had a rare but odds-on win against 'Boro and is yet to offer his insight against Fulham. I meanwhile will be going for a hat-trick of correct score Premiership forecasts and believe a Pardew-inspired Charlton will be too strong for weakened Fulham side. NY Addick predicts Charlton 2 (Bent D 2), Fulham 0


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