Amongst all the good news for football fans over the past 24 hours regarding their imminent return to stadiums, there was some bad news, for CSKA Sofia supporters anyway, when it was revealed on Monday that Alan Pardew has been appointed as their new Director of Football.
Not even someone with the biggest crystal ball available could have seen this coming and one has to ask the question…why?
The headline on the club’s website following his appointment declared; “Army men, English football specialist Alan Pardew will henceforth be part of the big red family of the Army.”
So having already breached the Trades Description Act using the words Pardew and football specialist in the same sentence, what are the Bulgarian side getting for their money?
THE MAN WHO PUT THE “F” IN FURLOUGH
Long before lockdown and long before the term furlough had entered anyone’s vocabulary, Pardew had been put on gardening leave by Newcastle United for basically being crap at his job. Despite taking up positions at Crystal Palace, West Bromwich Albion and Den Haag, Pards was still picking up his wages from St James’ Park having somehow convinced owner Mike Ashley to give him an eight-year contract and as many Lonsdale hoodies from Sports Direct as he wanted.
As he puts pen to paper on his new adventure in Bulgaria, Pardew’s own furlough scheme has just about run its course. Now he’s joined a club whose nickname is “The Armymen,” due to the fact that for many years the team was made up entirely of military personnel, our Alan will need all of his experience to prevent himself being humiliated again and being forced to march up and down the drill square in just his underpants after it inevitably all goes tits up.
MURDER ON THE DANCE FLOOR
Pardew’s win percentage at Newcastle stands at 0.00000001 and it was even lower during his stint at West Bromwich Albion. Now he has to try to convince Bulgarian playing legend Hristo Stoichkov, now a major shareholder at the club, that there’s more to him than throwing a few shapes on the touchline in a Wembley cup final that (of course) he lost.
Stoichkov was part of Johan Cruyff’s Barcelona Dream Team in the mid-90’s and the player who dragged his country into the semi-finals of World Cup 94 in the USA. It’s unlikely that Hristo will have ever come across anyone like our intrepid hero in his entire career.
Known for his no-nonsense approach, it’s also unlikely that the former midfield great will have mellowed in his older age, but the thought of seeing him and Pardew body-popping at the Christmas party makes me want to download Tik Tok right now.
GLAD ALL OVER
One of the main reasons that Pardew reportedly got the job was that Stoichkov and the other shareholders were impressed with the way he carried off wearing a shell-suit, whilst appearing on kids TV show Blue Peter with the rest of the Crystal Palace team ahead of the 1990 FA Cup Final (which they lost) performing their song “Glad all Over.”
Bulgaria has never been renowned as a centre for fashion and when Alan was asked whatever happened to that clobber from 30 years ago he explained that he still had a job-lot in his loft at home and he’d be more than happy to bring them to the capital with him to divvy out amongst the staff – deal breaker. When he explained that he also had a few hundred copies of the 1990 FA Cup Semi-Final on video, a game where Pards scored the extra-time winner in a 4-3 win for Palace, he was instructed to leave them in storage for the time being.
Pardew will feel he has some unfinished business to attend to, after his first European adventure at the helm of Dutch side Den Haag was cut short after just a few months when the domestic season was cancelled due to COVID-19. Others will state that the 59-year-old was lucky to have lasted that long having failed in his initial promise to; “Lead them out of relegation,” having won only one of his eight games in charge. His new role will (thankfully) keep him away from the dugout and he will have a couple of familiar faces in Sofia in the shape of Watford loanees Jerome Sinclair and Adalberto Penaranda.
When he took over at Den Haag, Pards and his assistant Chris Powell were hailed as the Ghostbusters by fans, who unfurled a giant banner at their first games in charge – reports coming out of Bulgaria suggest that this time Pardew’s face will be superimposed over that of Che Guevara in honour of their new “General.”
STARVED OF SUCCESS
CSKA has won the Bulgarian championship a record 31 times but over the past decade, their Palmares reads remarkably similar to that of Pardew’s – won f**ck all. 2008 was the last time they were the country’s top dogs and despite being runners-up last season, it’s fair to say that the club has now gone to the dogs since pretty much dominating Bulgarian for 40 years from the late 40’s to the end of the 80’s.
Pardew’s first chance to see his new charges will be on Thursday when they take on Swiss side Young Boys in the Europa League in Sofia, but qualification into the knockout phase seems unlikely having only picked one point from their opening three games. That’s a negative of course and right now Pardew needs two positives, as he tries (probably unsuccessfully) to help return the club to the top of Bulgarian football.
- Peter Crouch: Players get nervous about transfer rumours – and managers will lie to you about it
- Guardiola commits to 2 more years of not winning the Champions League with City
- Get the latest football tips on all the big matches on Paddy Power News