Alan Pardew is an English football manager and former player who was born in Wimbledon on 18th July 1961. Pardew began his career in non-league with Whyteleafe in 1980. He worked for his father as an apprentice glazer while bouncing around several non-league clubs. He also played for Epsom and Ewell, Corinthian Casuals and Dulwich Hamlet. Pardew nearly turned his back on football when he spent six months working in the Middle East on a glazing job. When he signed for Yeovil in 1986 he had to start his day job earlier in the morning in order to have enough time to travel to Somerset for midweek matches.
In 1987 Pardew made his first big break in football by signing for Crystal Palace. The move was somewhat of a risk, with Pardew's £400 per week wage less than the £500-£600 per week he was earning from his glazing job. He was spotted by Palace Chairman Ron Noades, who paid £7,500 to take him to Selhurst Park. Pardew slotted into the team fairly quickly, helping Palace win promotion to the top flight in 1989. His finest hour as a player undoubtedly came during the 1989/90 season. Pardew scored the winning goal in Palace's incredible 4-3 FA Cup final win over Liverpool at Villa Park. He also played in the final and the final replay defeat against Manchester United at Wembley in May 1990. In Pardew's final season at Selhurst, Palace recorded a 3rd place top flight finish.
In 1991 Pardew signed for Charlton. He was a regular at The Valley for four years. In 1992/93 he was the club's top goalscorer. In 1995 he joined Tottenham for a brief loan stint. Spurs were reluctant participants in Intertoto Cup, and had no intention of risky the fitness of their established stars. As a result, Pardew and a host of other veteran players were recruited. Spurs were dumped out of the competition following a record 8-0 defeat to FC Koln. Pardew had a two year spell with Barnet from 1995, and then saw out his playing career with Reading in 1997/98.
Pardew had ambitions to go into management from an early age. He ran Sunday League outfit Morden Nomads whilst playing for Palace and started taking coaching courses. He was a UEFA-qualified coach just two years after he stopped playing. Pardew was player-coach under Terry Bullivant at Barnet and Reading. He had a spell as caretaker manager at the Madjeski in 1998 before Tommy Burns was appointed as permanent chief. Pardew took charge of The Royals reserve side in 1998/99, before stepping in as caretaker for a second time when Burns was sacked. He impressed enough to be offered the job on a full-time basis.
Pardew became Reading's permanent manager in 1999/2000. He helped the club recover from a disappointing start to finish 10th in Division 2. The following campaign he guided the Royals to the play-off final. New signings like Jamie Cureton, Nicky Shorey and James Harper helped propel the club to a 3rd place Division 2 finish. Reading would go on to lose their play-off final to Walsall, but Pardew's men would redeem themselves a year later by going up automatically.
Pardew's Reading adapted brilliantly to life in Division One, reaching the play-offs in their first season back up. The Royals would go on to lose to Wolves in the semi-finals, but the overall experience had done wonders for Pardew's reputation. He was developing into a fine tactician with an eye for detail. During 2002/03 he made a number of bargain signings who would go on to represent the club with distinction in years to come, like Steve Sidwell and Marcus Hahnemann.
With the arrival of Shaun Goater and Scott Murray at the start of 2003/04 Reading made a fabulous start to the season. That was until freshly relegated West Ham made an approach for Pardew's services. Royals Chairman John Madjeski refused him permission to hold talks with the East London outfit, which prompted Pardew to resign. A bitter legal dispute delayed Pardew's appointment at Upton Park, as he was placed on gardening leave. On 20th October 2003 he was finally free to join West Ham. The whole affair left a sour taste in the mouth of Reading fans who have never forgiven him for turning his back on the club.
Pardew was hardly the number one choice of the expectant West Ham fans. His relationship with the supporters didn't improve with patchy early form. The club was still suffering a hangover from an unexpected relegation and had a bit of an unbalanced squad. Jermaine Defoe was still around, despite requesting a transfer during the summer. He often found himself in trouble with referees before his February 2004 departure, leaving new boys David Connolly and Marlon Harewood in charge of goalscoring responsibilities. Michael Carrick was still at the club and pulling the strings in midfield. Pardew also brought in Wimbledon trio Nigel Reo Coker, Adam Nowland and Jobi McAnuff, who added some youthful exuberance to the side. West Ham qualified for the play-offs by virtue of a 4th place finish, and were heavy favourites for the final after downing Ipswich in the semis. They were beaten by Crystal Palace in the Millennium Stadium however, and subsequently forced to play another season of second tier football.
Pardew looked for experience when planning for the 2004/05 season. In came golden oldies Teddy Sheringham, Sergei Rebrov and Mauriccio Taricco. Carrick left for Spurs, but big things were still expected of West Ham. The results were inconsistent however, and Pardew received plenty of stick from fans and pundits for not playing 'The West Ham way'. Nevertheless, West Ham still managed to scrape a play-off spot. Pardew's men dispatched Ipswich in the semi-finals again, before beating Preston in the final. Bobby Zamora scored the only goal of the game on 30th May 2005.
Despite the play-off victory, questions about Pardew's managerial capabilities continued to rumble on throughout the summer of 2005. He soon won over even his harshest critics however with a season to remember. West Ham made some shrewd signings prior to the 2005/06 Premiership campaign. In came the likes of Yossi Benayoun, Paul Konchesky and Danny Gabbidon. The Hammers made a great start to the season, and showed everyone what they were made of on 12th September in front of the Sky cameras, thrashing Aston Villa 4-0. Pardew also guided West Ham to a famous 3-2 win at Arsenal on 1st February 2006. Nigel Reo Coker and Bobby Zamora tore through Sol Campell like he wasn't there that night at Highbury. West Ham finished a very respectable 9th that season, but also came agonisingly close to cup glory. Pardew's boys reach the final of the FA Cup, and went 2-0, then 3-2 up over Liverpool. The game went into stoppage time and the cup looked to be heading to Upton Park until Steven Gerrard smashed in a last minute equaliser. Liverpool would go on to win on penalties. Just like in 1990 Pardew had been denied an FA Cup winners medal in heart-breaking fashion.