Some may call him a fraud, some may call him a spinster, others may say genius. Alan Pardew has been a polarising figure throughout his managerial career but he has always come out with his head high and his grin as wide as ever.
However, a bad result at the weekend should rightfully end his current run with Crystal Palace and with it will likely go his last chance both in the Premier League and at taking the national job.
Pardew’s managerial career has ebbed and flowed. It started well at Reading, he got the club promoted out of the then-Division Two before making the playoffs in his first season in England’s second tier.
At West Ham, he struggled initially before getting them into the Premier League on the second time of asking in 2005. A ninth placed finished followed along with an FA Cup final before the club’s worst run of results in 70 years eventually saw him relieved of his duties in December 2006.
Charlton then came calling and after he failed to keep them up despite an up-turn in form, he then failed to get them straight back up again. With the club in the bottom three after another poor start, he was sacked.
He then joined the Southampton revolution, helping them almost get into the playoffs despite a 10-point deduction at the start of the season. He also won the Football League Trophy before succumbing to the axe again after a string of poor results and reported low morale with staff and a poor relationship with the club chairman.
Somehow, some way, he became Newcastle United manager. After a 12th placed finish, a slew of great signings headed by chief scout Graham Carr helped the club get into the European spots and saw Pardew named Premier League Manager of the Year.
He then signed an eight-year contract extention.
After an average 2012-13 season, results dipped dramatically to end the following season. They lost 15 out of their last 21 games and the fans turned on him, despite finishing the season well above the dropzone and leading the time to six wins in a row in all competitions before leaving for Palace.
But this was where the trend continues. After a good start and a splash of cash, Palace have tumbled to the worst points-per-game ratio of any team in the 92 professional football clubs in 2016.
They did make an FA Cup final in that time as well, but it’s not enough to forgive a run of form that would have seen almost any manager in a similar position sacked. His win percentage is not bad at 41.5% but he’s also lost almost 45% of those games in charge.
He isn’t particularly tactically adept, simply working with what he’s given and hoping for the best. Sometimes it’s been with a 4-4-2 at Newcastle, that spiralled out when the two strikers were not of the quality of those previously or when the help diminished, or sometimes it’s a 4-3-3 with two quick wide men yet his defenders have seemingly forgotten how to defend, which is another trend.
Just look at the last five games. They lost all five, scoring six but conceding a whopping 13, including threes against struggling attacking sides like Leicester City and Burnley. They may argue that they were unlucky in a few of them but you can’t be unlucky for almost an entire year.
Add to that the controversies he’s had, including bust-ups with managers and a moment where headbutted an opposition player and you begin to wonder how he’s got work so easily.
Is it his cheesy grin? Is it his slimy, aggressive personality or is it his dad-dancing that puts the cherry on top.
Hopefully, Swansea City can put the final nail in his coffin. A man that is the epitome of “new manager syndrome”, Pardew can only hold on to this charade for a little bit longer.