Alan Pardew laboured for three-and-a-half years under the toil of being the Newcastle manager, jostling hopelessly for the admirations of the demanding Toon Army. At St. James' Park, it always seemed like he was fighting a losing battle, no matter how hard he tried or how furiously he punched the air in celebration on the touchline when goals flew in. Despite winning both Premier League and LMA Manager of the Year awards for the 11/12 season, Pardew was vilified for the Magpies' flailing fortunes under the Mike Ashley reign of doom, but he has found his oasis back at Selhurst Park, the very turf he graced with gusto as a player.
Not only has Pardew helped the Eagles fans forget about a harrowingly inept spell under Neil Warnock - and somehow managed to eclipse the sterling efforts of Tony Pulis - he has created a stylish side who are fast becoming the latest constituent of the Premier League Order of the Hipster. Following in the footsteps of Swansea City and Southampton, Palace are rapidly becoming that team you have a soft spot for, who you want to see succeed without actually impinging on your own team's progress.
Yes, for a while it was the free-flowing, pressure-heavy football that Mauricio Pochettino brought to the south coast at St. Mary's. Then it was preserved with verve and panache by Ronald Koeman, as the Saints marched on the toes of the top four in the earlier stages of last season. Now, the age of the Crystal Palace hipster reign hath cometh, with Pardew standing proudly as the visionary leader, the proponent of the Viva La Revolucion era at Selhurst. Heading into the new season, there can be no denying the sense of optimism pervading the Eagles at the moment.
Their status as a rising force in the Premier League was always going to be heavily dependant on their performance in the transfer market, so signing Yohan Cabaye - who reportedly resisted the attentions of Atletico Madrid in the process - from Paris-Saint Germain will, surely, only work wonders for a squad already brimming with raw talent. Cabaye was the chief creative force during Pardew's greatest days in the north east, revelling in dismantling defences with his vision and range of passing. He is, quite simply, a wonderful coup for the club and his arrival gives the fans the perfect man to attach themselves to.
At Newcastle, Cabaye was loved universally. He was seen as the archetypal French maestro, a man who really made the game of football look fashionable. Now at Palace, he can be the pin-up for the winds of change. A playmaker of his calibre and experience can propel this Eagles squad into an exhilarating new era when, dare we say it, European football is a possibility. It happened for Southampton, so there is no reason to suggest it can't for Palace too.
But that it is not to discredit the current crop at Palace, the group of players who hauled themselves back from the brink of relegation to their best-ever finish of tenth place. Improve that by three and exciting European nights at a jam-packed Selhurst may become a reality. The likes of Yannick Bolasie and Jason Puncheon were a joy to behold in the climactic weeks of the season, screeching through defences with penetrative pace and enthusiasm. At Anfield, Puncheon and Bolasie showcased just how good this Palace side can be, emphatically outclassing Brendan Rodgers' men to ensure a hellish end to Steven Gerrard's Anfield journey.
This is what Palace can be though; the slick mid-table arriviste who are prepared - and sufficiently equipped - to upset the order of play in the higher echelons of English football. With Cabaye drafted in amidst great hysteria and Scott Dann signing a fresh five-year contract, Palace have every reason to be chomping at the bit to get started the with the new season.
They are, by no means, an immaculately packaged product, however, as they are in need of a top-class goalscorer. Glenn Murray showed why he shouldn't be immediately disregarded as a top-flight striker, but the Croydon crowd yearn for a further sprinkling of imagination. Loic Remy has been touted as the perfect man to lead this newly-efficacious forward line and his productive return under Pardew at Newcastle suggests that he could head for the Selhurst Sanctuary to avoid the dwindling of his once-promising Premier League career on the Chelsea bench.
Pardew has already re-teamed with a former star pupil; bring in Remy and the horizon would start to appear even brighter. These are certainly sanguine times for Palace. Pardew got them dreaming once again after a period in the darkness, and they are starting to dream big.
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