You can accuse Alan Pardew of many things but one charge you can’t make stick, is that he will let any chance of opportunism slip through his fingers.
This time the subject is set-pieces, especially corners.
I remember Newcastle scoring a goal from a corner in a pre-season friendly under Alan Pardew, asked about it afterwards he immediately claimed that he had had the team working on new set-piece returns, rather than it being something he couldn’t claim credit for…
If you remember, Newcastle United for the entire four years Alan Pardew was there, had a ‘little’ problem with defending and especially attacking set-pieces, especially corners.
In fact at one point United went over two years without scoring a Premier League goal from a corner, hundreds taken without a goal.
Nevertheless, that hasn’t stopped our very favourite chancer from castigating England and the other 23 teams taking part in the Euros, bemoaning how badly they are doing on set-pieces/corners.
He is full of advice and draws on his own personal success, which equates apparently to Palace scoring a fair few last season, though surprisingly he fails to mention the previous 15 years+ in his management career.
Alan Pardew does really have neck for anything, talking about how Palace have special meetings and sessions regarding corners, plus how he specifically studied Benfica because of their success with set-pieces.
How he can go on like this is laughable, without at the same time addressing just why he was such a failure previously.
If I had an inspired guess, it would be that at Palace he inherited a number of players who are very good at attacking set-plays, as well as probably the team having set-piece routines that worked well before he even arrived.
Alan Pardew gives his set-piece lecture in The Mail – priceless:
‘In an attempt to get more from set-pieces, I studied Benfica under Jorge Jesus because they had clever imaginative free-kick and corner routines. When they reached back-to-back Europa League finals in 2013 and 2014, it was noticeable how important set-plays were to them.
I went to see them working and watched their videos.
Last season at Crystal Palace we had the most successful record in the Premier League for scoring from corners.
It seems to be a secondary thought at Euro 2016.
Not just England, who haven’t scored from 26 corners so far, but from all the nations.
In the last decade it has become less of an attacking weapon for most coaches.
At Crystal Palace we put a lot of work in.
We have a set-piece training session and a set-piece meeting separate to our tactical planning and analysis of the opposition.
My argument is: how many other times can you get up to six players in the opposition box?’