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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 September, 2003, 16:20 GMT 17:20 UK
Pards on the table
By Stuart Roach

Alan Pardew resigned as Reading manager
West Ham's determination to play things by the book and wait patiently for the chance to employ Alan Pardew underlines the remarkable rise in stock of the rookie manager.

Just four years into his managerial career, former Crystal Palace midfielder Pardew has become the hottest new property on the modest production line of English managerial talent.

If David Moyes represented the face of Millennium Manager, then the updated 03 product features Pardew on its cover.

Not necessarily the new and improved version, but certainly the most significant rising managerial star outside the Premiership.

But what is it that has seen Pardew rise from low-key Royal footman to King of the First Division?

Finding a bargain

West Ham appeared to have a shortlist of one for Glenn Roeder's successor and, for the cash-strapped Hammers, the prudent Pardew is the perfect choice as they seek to rebuild outside the Premiership.

With a David Dickinson eye for a bargain, Pardew transformed Reading from a struggling Second Division outfit into Premiership wannabies on the strength of sensible purchases, galvanised by painstaking attention to detail.

Full-back Nicky Shorey was Leyton Orient's reserve left-back when Pardew signed him for 25,000 two seasons ago, but is now courted by Premiership clubs willing to pay 20 times that fee.

1999-2000 10th in Div Two
2000-2001 3rd in Div Two
(Lost to Walsall in play-off final)
2001-2002 2rd in Div Two (promoted)
2002-2003 4th in Div One
(Lost to Wolves in play-off semi-final)
James Harper and Steve Sidwell now recreate at Reading the partnership they developed in Arsenal's reserves and, at 22 and 20-years-old respectively, underline the youthful bedrock on which Pardew built his foundations.

This summer, his powers of persuasion helped Reading beat several First Division rivals in the race to sign Manchester City striker Shaun Goater.

The Bermudan international cited Pardew's promise to make him a better player as the main reason for signing, though he may now feel somewhat duped by the manager's sales patter.

Pardew signed Goater in preference to David Connolly, whose obvious admiration for West Ham led the Reading manager to make a statement he may now be regretting.

"I felt there wasn't enough commitment coming back from him to convince me that he should be a Reading player," said the man who will be Connolly's boss after all.

Fitness first

But Colchester manager Phil Parkinson, who worked under Pardew as a player and then coach at Reading, believes the manager's talent spotting skill is among his greatest assets.

"He's brought in good players and when he's got them there has got the best out of them," Parkinson told this website.

"There's ways you get the best out of players. You get them very fit and Alan employed good people around him to work on that side of things.

"Then you get the team very organised and tactically aware which gets the best out of individuals playing in that type of environment.

"If your team is well organised and prepared for games then individual players look better within that framework and that's what he's done.

"But there's no secret format in football and Alan Pardew hasn't discovered something new in terms of preparing a team for a game.

"He just does the right things well and he is thorough in his preparation."

Alan Pardew
Pardew produced a fit squad which played at high speed
Fast thinking

Pardew also openly displayed the need for speed and Reading's breathless pace caught First Division sides by surprise last season.

And the fitness levels which allowed that pace to continue unabated also came stamped with the Pardew hallmark.

"If you ask people round the country about Reading they will tell you they are one of the fittest clubs around," adds Parkinson.

"Everyone comments on the fitness and if you go out every Saturday fitter than the opposition then you've got a head start."

Flip side

But Pardew can often be too quick for his own good.

Certainly, his public relations are in particular need of attention, and with Reading he was all-too-often forced to apologise for a public slip of the tongue.

To his players, there can be no more fluent communicator than Pardew. Yet, in public and within the media, he remains a dangerous and distant animal.

Ironically, West Ham were the latest club upset by his eagerness and inexperience when he publicly declared his interest in signing Paolo di Canio without having made a formal enquiry for the striker.

A hasty apology followed, yet all is sure to be forgiven when he moves in at Upton Park.

Former Reading player Phil Parkinson
"If people give him time, he'll produce the goods"

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