The contrast between Newcastle and Crystal Palace fans over the weekend was unmissable. As the Eagles supporters stayed behind at the Stadium of Light to applaud Alan Pardew's men after a heroic 4-1 triumph over Sunderland, Monday night's shower of miserable Geordie faces spelled out the doom and gloom currently hanging over his former club.
Looking at the Premier League form guide says it all; Palace are third, after accruing an impressive 15 points from a possible 18 in their last six. Meanwhile, Newcastle are 19th, following five consecutive defeats. Under Pardew, Palace are absolutely flying. The 53-year-old likened his side to Brazil after their enthralling attacking display against the Black Cats, while Carver was once again left to question the mental strength of the side he inherited from Pardew.
The former Newcastle manager has endured as much opprobrium as anyone among the Premier League's troupe of tacticians. At St. James' Park, the Englishman was vilified for their decline and for overseeing a brand of football wholly divorced from the dizzyingly entertaining regime of Keegan in the 90s. However, he rode the storm of abuse admirably - the backlash of the Toon army is enough to crush any man - and has overseen a remarkable turnaround in fortunes since returning to Selhurst Park.
Since his appointment as successor to Neil Warnock in January, Pardew has won eight out of his 12 games in charge, drawing once and losing the other three. The victory over Manchester City was met with a roar of acclaim from the vociferous south London crowd at Selhurst last week, while Yannick Bolasie spearheaded a masterclass in blistering, counter-attacking football during their comprehensive dismantling of Dick Advocaat's Sunderland.
Indeed, key to Palace's resurgence under Pardew has been the rejuvenation of form in attack. Under him, Bolasie looks as dangerous as ever has been, while Glenn Murray is playing the football of his life. The 31-year-old has scored six goals in as many matches and his terrific hold-up play has been a focal point to Palace's attack. Against City, he could be seen brushing Yaya Toure off the ball, sneaking in behind Martin Demichelis to score the opening goal, while his continued superiority in the air over Vincent Kompany was particularly eye-opening.
When Pardew assumed charge of Palace, the club were in the midst of a relegation scrap, 18th in the table after winning only three games from 20. They hadn't managed a victory in their last six games and when Pardew was appointed, he was charged with the unenviable task of emulating the sparkling renaissance of Tony Pulis last year. However, not only has he succeeded emphatically in propelling Palace up the table to sit pretty in 11th, the free-flowing football that has spurred the revival has been an absolute joy to watch.
Pardew doesn't have many friends in the media. Of course, his career has been laced in controversy and missteps. The official-shoving, headbutting and expletive-laden rants perhaps explain why he is unlikely to receive an award for his personality anytime soon. However, the fact that he has doggedly persevered through the 'Sack Pardew' campaign raged against him at Newcastle and come out the other side to praise from the Palace fans makes his rebirth all the more admirable.
The current dismal form of Newcastle only serves to amplify the achievements of their former boss. The Magpies were ninth when Pardew left for Palace, but the Toon army failed to appreciate what they had when they actually had it. Their form may have dipped when Pardew was in charge, but he did manage to finish fifth in the 2011-12 season and conjured unforgettable moments like the four-goal comeback against Arsenal.
In May 2012, he won the Premier League's Manager of the Season award as well as the League Managers Association Manager of the Year Award - becoming the only Englishman to achieve that double swoop. He may not pip Jose Mourinho or Ronald Koeman to this season's award, but the progress of Pardew has to be commended.
Of course, there is always the suggestion that Palace's form is only temporary and that Pardew should be judged in the long-term. However, it is hard to escape the feeling that Newcastle fans, embittered or not, would welcome him back with open arms after the torment since his departure. He may not have always endeared himself to the media or fans, but the fact is, Pardew is flying at Selhurst Park and would deserve a nod for manager of the season.
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