You might think five years working under Mike Ashley would give a manager enough knowledge of the world to last a lifetime, but then you’re not salsa-shimmying silver fox Alan Pardew.
The former Newcastle and West Ham gaffer has spent his post-playing career spreading the Pardiola way across England with some success – you mean you didn’t know he’d won the 2010 Johnstone’s Paint Trophy with Southampton? – but the boundaries of Britain were never likely to hold in a coach of such quality, and the ex-Palace frontman has struck out for the new horizon of the Eredivisie with ADO Den Haag.
Or maybe it’s just that no one in England would give him a gig after West Brom, who knows?
Either way, he took over on Christmas Eve with the club in desperate need of a saviour having won just three games in there first 18, culminating in a 6-1 defeat to Ajaz two days before the Englishman’s appointment. It hasn’t got much better since, but that hasn’t stopped top dog AP from taking in the highlights of living in the low countries.
We spoke exclusively with the man himself* about his experiences on the continent so far…
*not really, it’s just a bit of fun
‘It’s natural to expect scepticism from the fans when you’re coming from a different country, culture and football milieu. I remember the resistance there was when I first went to Newcastle – turning up in a Del Boy three-wheeler van somehow gave the impression I was part of what the Geordies called “the Cockney Mafia”, but they soon warmed to me.’
‘Well, sort of. If I put on a fake moustache, curly wig and dodgy accent they all thought I was Terry McDermott and would stop abusing in the street.’
‘The fans here have been so welcoming though. They really love their football. Just last week they turned up and took over training – where else would you get passion like that?’
The supporters of The Hague are tired of the players and their efforts. They went on to the field including flipboard and tactics during the training. #afraidofsecondleague #ado pic.twitter.com/wTdbkqsYh7
— Hardcorehooligan.nl (@HHooligan) February 26, 2020
Manners & etiquette
‘I’m used to getting what I want. Being top dog around my manor, people pay me respect and make sure I get what’s mine. When I was at West Ham, for example, the street urchins from the lanes and alleys near the Boleyn Ground would clammer about whenever I stepped out in my cream suit and hat and strolled among the market stalls. The sellers would offer me fruits and wares for nothing, just to stay in my good graces.’
‘That’s people recognising Alpha Al. I naturally command respect – the players even started calling me Don Pards.’
— Nick Miller (@NickMiller79) November 10, 2016
‘Over here, it’s different. I’ve often said, when you’re the King, you can do anything. But these Dutch lads don’t seem to have much time for royalty. I mean, our centre half was half-way through his lunch in the canteen the other day and didn’t even bow down to kiss my ring when I walked in.’
‘It’s like another world.’
‘Being a top, top manager, you’ve got to get down to the player’s level, get to know them, speak on their terms. It’s like learning another language.’
‘Fortunately, everyone here speaks pretty good English, but the language of football doesn’t always translate.’
‘I pitched the idea of team bonding trip to Barcelona during the Eredivisie winter break – it’s a great city, the club plays football the right way so you can learn plenty, plus I know the street like the back of my hand from previous visits thanks to Jonny Evans and the lads at West Brom – but the chairman said no for some reason.’
Alan Pardew's West Brom tenure “notable not only for deteriorating results but also for a squad trip to Barcelona during which four players" stole a taxi. https://t.co/RYpH5B73Tv
— Ray Locker (@rlocker12) April 2, 2018
‘Maybe it was the 42 crates of cervezas I wanted to line up for the hotel.’
‘Generally, though, the Dutch are very laidback. I know a lot of people will think, yeah, it’s all the wacky baccy and all that – it’s not for me, though some of the lads have said I must be sampling after seeing the teams I’ve picked – but they’re just more openminded about lots of things.’
‘You don’t have the press on your back, or digging through your bins, or nosing around generally, which is really great for a high profile guy like myself, though my lawyer will miss the work a bit I’m sure.’
‘And nothing shows how open to different approaches they are than giving me a job in the first place – I mean, have you seen my CV? It’s f**king sh*t.’