London (AP) – In charge of English soccer’s worst-performing team of 2016, Alan Pardew was already under heavy scrutiny at Premier League strugglers Crystal Palace.
Some unwise comments about the club’s American owners might just have made his position untenable.
Pardew was fired as Palace’s manager on Thursday, three days before Christmas and nearly two years into his job at Selhurst Park. The club may now turn to Sam Allardyce, who has been without a job since getting fired by England in September.
With nearly half the league season gone, Palace are in 17th place in the 20-team standings after four wins from 17 games. The club has the fewest points per game (0.72) in 2016 than any team in England’s top four divisions.
“Personally, I have a lot of good feelings for this football club and am sad that my time there has ended,” said Pardew, who played for Palace from 1987-91. “I feel that I have a special bond with the club and hope that hasn’t been affected.”
In a short statement, Palace said the club had asked Pardew to step down from his position and thanked him for his services.
Since December 2015, the club’s board has contained American businessmen David Blitzer and Josh Harris, who were the target of remarks from Pardew after Palace’s 3-0 win over Southampton that gave the under-pressure manager some breathing space.
“We have a lot of serious investors at the club who perhaps don’t know a lot about football,” Pardew said, before praising Palace chairman Steve Parish for defending him in troubled times.
Less than three weeks later, the 55-year-old Englishman is out.
British media reported that Allardyce will hold talks with Palace regarding the vacancy. Allardyce lasted just 67 days — and one match — in charge of England’s national team before he was fired over unguarded comments to undercover reporters posing as businessmen.
Allardyce has a strong record of improving underperforming teams, so would be the perfect appointment for Palace.
Palace have only won six league games in 2016, and have lost eight of their last 10 games.
Yet it all started so well under Pardew, who joined Palace after quitting Newcastle — where he made headlines because of his frequent flare-ups in the coaches’ technical area. These included head-butting an opposing player as they jostled for a ball at a throw-in.
Palace finished in a club-record 10th place in the Premier League in Pardew’s first season in charge, then began last season well until a drastic dip in form saw the team narrowly avoid relegation. A run to the FA Cup final, where Palace lost to Manchester United at Wembley Stadium, spared Pardew from more scrutiny.
Palace broke their transfer record twice in the offseason to sign England winger Andros Townsend and then Belgium striker Christian Benteke. Scoring hasn’t been a problem for the team nicknamed “The Eagles,” who are the sixth-highest scorers in the league, but they have the third-worst defense and have conceded lots of goals at set-pieces.
Palace’s next game is against Watford on Monday, which starts a run of three games in eight days over the festive period.
“During his tenure, Alan’s hard work and dedication were without question,” Parish said. “He has improved so many areas of the club and we wish him the very best for the future. With games now coming thick and fast over the holiday period, the club are hoping to put someone in place as quickly as possible.”