Since making his managerial bow in 1999, Alan Pardew has been appointed manager by as many as six clubs, amassing a total of 752 matches in charge with a win percentage of 43%. It is a respectable record for a man who has been tipped as a future boss of the England national team, but on this day nine years ago, the Londoner was sacked for the first time in his career by West Ham United.
Pardew had made the move to Upton Park after deciding to leave Reading, who he got promoted to Division One in the 2001-02 campaign before missing out in the playoffs in their first season back in the second tier. He arrived with a growing reputation but he was under pressure to deliver an immediate return to the Premier League. His reign would begin with a succession of draws but 10 points from their final four games would earn the club a place in the playoffs.
West Ham successfully negotiated the challenge of Ipswich Town in the semi-finals before falling victim to a goal from Crystal Palace striker Andrew Johnson in the playoff final at the Millennium Stadium, consigning the Hammers to another 12 months in the Championship. It was a major blow to a club who had been hoping to retain the services of players such as midfielder Michael Carrick, but their failure to return to the top flight meant the England international would inevitably head for the exit.
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With Carrick gone, Pardew would be forced into making his own high-profile signings, with Teddy Sheringham, Sergei Rebrov and Luke Chadwick all being brought in to strengthen the squad. Despite the arrivals, West Ham would fail to find any consistency during the first half of the season and with 10 games remaining, a playoff spot was very much in doubt, but during the matches that they had left, they would accumulate 19 points to sneak into the top six.
Another semi-final victory over Ipswich would follow before Bobby Zamora, who was brought in midway through the campaign, scored the decisive goal in the playoff final against Preston North End, earning the East London outfit a return to the top flight and with the foundations to build a squad capable of ensuring that they would not return to the second tier for the foreseeable future. During that summer, Pardew would hand Yossi Benayoun his first taste of English football, while Shaka Hislop, Paul Konchesky and Danny Gabbidon were signed to add quality to the defence.
The season would prove memorable for both Pardew and the club, with 16 wins from their 38 top-flight fixtures earning the Hammers ninth spot come the middle of May. However, the 2005-06 campaign will be best remembered for West Ham's run to the FA Cup final, with victories over Norwich City, Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, Manchester City and Middlesbrough taking them through to a showdown with Liverpool at the Millennium Stadium. West Ham held leads of 2-0 and 3-2 and looked to have both hands on the trophy, but deep into added-on time, Steven Gerrard scored a 30-yard effort to break Hammers hearts, with the Merseyside giants eventually prevailing in a penalty shootout.
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The following season started brightly, and Pardew pulled off one of the most unexpected transfer coups this century when signing both Javier Mascherano and Carlos Tevez. With Zamora having already scored five times in four games, the Hammers looked well set to make a bid for the top six, but from the start of September, they suffered an alarming drop in form, with 10 defeats in 13 games leading to the club's new owners making the call to remove Pardew from his position.
An official club statement read: "Alan has made an important contribution since joining in September 2003 but this season's results have been disappointing. Chairman Eggert Magnusson and the board feel it is the right time to make a change in the club's best interests."
The decision made by the West Ham board was justified as Pardew's replacement Alan Curbishley guided the Hammers to 15th place by the end of the season.
Pardew departed West Ham having taken charge of a total of 163 matches, winning 67 times and losing on 58 occasions. He would not have to wait long for his next role, which came when he was appointed as Charlton Athletic manager just 15 days later, but he would endure a disastrous spell with the Addicks, with the club suffering relegation from the Premier League six months later.