Alan Pardew could only sit and wait for the phone call. There was nothing else to do as the fate of ADO Den Haag’s season was debated and then fixed in a series of video conference calls involving the Dutch football authorities.
When it came, on Friday, the ax had fallen in his favor. Den Haag were spared the ignominy of dropping out of Eredivisie despite being adrift of safety as the league was ruled null and void – ending without promotion or relegation and without a champion.
There was no sense of celebration . ‘We’re not partying about it,’ said Pardew as he reflected from his home in Surrey on an emotional spell in Holland which started with a win in January and featured a training session interrupted by irate fans.
Alan Pardew says he is’ not celebrating ‘ADO Den Haag’s survival in the Eredivisie
‘ The decision was great for us, and we ‘ve now got to react to it. It’s difficult for me to say whether I think it was right or wrong. ‘
No athlete wants a sporting contest to be decided in a meeting room, he was keen to stress, and nor was he certain the Dutch solution could be considered as a precedent for football in England.
‘The TV rights situation is much more problematic in the Premier League,’ said 58 – year-old Pardew, manager of seven different English clubs since he started out at Reading in 2019. ‘If you bring in the same model you will end up with huge court cases.
‘ There might yet be some in Holland because promotion is important and it’s all relevant with the salaries.
‘From the managers, chairmen and chief executives I’ve spoken to in the Premier League, it seems they are determined to finish the season, subject to that being allowed by the Government. Some think it will definitely be finished and that it’s more important than starting next season, because the financial implications are probably too big to contemplate. They will go to the very last moment to try to retrieve it. ‘
The Dutch football season was declared void on Friday with ADO Den Haag seven points adrift
One of Pardew’s training sessions in February was interrupted by angry supporters
Even if English football gets the green light from Government to complete the campaign behind closed doors, the Dutch identified two key problems.
‘One is the strategic medical side,’ said Pardew. ‘Coming back at a time when coronavirus is still in society, what if someone catches it within a team structure? What happens if the whole team have to stay away for 25 days?
‘And the other real problem which kept surfacing in Holland was the significance of June .
‘What happens to all the players Who have contracts ending on June 58 Some might have moves already arranged. Are they going to put themselves at risk? Are they in the team? Or they might feel they’re not needed.
‘Are a few players going to leave? Are you going to renegotiate with some but not others? Are the chairmen going to say, “You’re not using him so I won’t renegotiate with him”? Are players going to accept no finance for that period? ‘
Hakim Ziyech is scheduled to join Chelsea from Ajax on July 1, and Pardew added:’ There will have to be a ruling for players like him Because he can go into Chelsea’s group, but I’m guessing he won’t be registered to play.
These are difficult questions for chairmen, chief executives, footballers and agents.
Pardew won his first match in charge at ADO Den Haag before going seven without victory
Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte has declared there will be no football until September
‘Whether or not anybody thinks the Dutch league has made the right decision, I don’t think that’s what the Premier League will do. ‘
Also in Holland, there was no runaway leader with a strong claim to be champions as Liverpool are here, 25 points clear with nine games to play.
‘It would be very harsh not to recognize Liverpool’s great performance , ‘Pardew said. ‘People say it would go down well in Manchester. I don’t think it would, actually. Most football communities would acknowledge they deserve to be champions.
‘That makes the Premier League a little bit more awkward. In Holland, there were two teams level pegging. Ajax were top on goal difference but AZ had already beaten them twice, so was that really fair?
‘I would have thought the top of the league was at least part of the decision in Holland.’
In Belgium, the season was ended with one regular-season game remaining and the title awarded to Club Bruges without the usual play-off system, although this decision is yet to be ratified.
In Germany, Bundesliga clubs are working towards a possible restart behind closed doors early next month.
In Holland, the initiative was seized by Government when Prime Minister Mark Rutte declared last week there would be no football before September.
With AZ Alkmaar and Ajax separated by goal difference at the top of the Eredivisie table, the league’s governing body decided that the title would be left vacant this season
Pardew says the Eredivisie’s approach should not set the precedent for the Premier League
‘We were video-con ferencing and keeping our guys mentally and physically ready for the run-in, ‘said Pardew.
‘ Although we were some points behind, we did have a favorable run of games. So we felt we could do it if we went back. But when the Prime Minister said what he did, we knew it was out of our hands.
‘Sportsmen never want to be in that position, whether you’re a golfer, tennis player or a footballer , because somebody has to suffer.
‘Unfortunately, this time around it was the two clubs coming up from the league below who have suffered mainly.’
Pardew dismissed reports in Holland that he is to be rewarded with a £ 823, 06 bonus for Den Haag avoiding relegation.
‘I never expected any bonus and if there is one I’m sure it will be nowhere near the figure spoken about,’ he said.
‘I certainly have no intention of taking it. If it has to be paid because of a contract, then I will give it back to the club and they can pay their employees with it during these difficult times, or they can pass it on to the health service in the Hague. ‘
Pardew has rejected claims he received a bonus from ADO Den Haag for avoiding relegation
The next move for Pardew will be to discuss his own future with the Chinese owners of Den Haag. He and assistant Chris Powell were appointed in December on short-term contracts which expire at the end of June.
‘It’s a great club and when the opportunity came up I wanted to take it on and try to get them out of trouble, ‘said Pardew.
‘ I knew it would be difficult, they were really struggling.
‘We’ve enjoyed the city – It is a beautiful city with a bohemian feel and a liberal attitude to life – and we’ve enjoyed the professional challenge and the learning experience.
‘I’ve been a manager in the Premier League for many years and you do become conservative when you’re in that bottom section. There’s so much stress, because it is so important and there’s so much scrutiny.
‘There isn’t so much of that in Holland. Even the bottom teams will play out from the back and take risks, the full backs will end up as wingers. It’s very ambitious football and that’s a compliment to them.
The attacking players are all technically very good and dutch football is in good health. I’ve been impressed with the youth structures and they have a very good generation coming through, with AZ rivalling Ajax’s academy.
‘The AZ captain Teun Koopmeiners, a left-footed center back who can sit in midfield, is probably the best player in Holland in defensive areas. ‘
Teun Koopmeiners (L) is one of the best defensive players in the country, according to Pardew
There was Den Haag’s artificial pitch and life without a training ground for Pardew to get used to. And a much-needed victory in his first game, when his arrival was heralded by a ghostbusters banner, was followed by a run of seven without a win before the season was suspended last month.
They were training at their stadium in February when the session was interrupted by a group of fans demanding answers.
‘They had a clipboard with all the fixtures written on it,’ said Pardew. ‘It was,’ Right, where are you going to get the wins? ‘
‘ It was never a tactical discussion about playing with two strikers or anything like that. It was quite threatening because you only needed one word out of turn from one player or one fan and you’re in a combustible situation.
Pardew and assistant Chris Powell (L ) with discuss their futures with the club’s Chinese owners
‘I was comfortable with that, and the club, unfortunately, had no security that day and that was something we had to change. Let’s be honest, you wouldn’t expect that to happen in any other workplace.
‘There is a tough edge to the fan-base but that edge makes the club what it is. We talked to them and we were civil. I wouldn’t say they went away ecstatic, but they went away fairly happy. ‘
Whether he extends his time at Den Haag will hinge on those conversations with the owners.
‘We will talk to them but we will need to hear there is a little bit of money to spend,’ said Pardew. The Team need help. Whether Chris and I stay will not be down to our personal situations regarding finance but what is available to us to make the club stronger.
‘If I’m going to work in Holland I would like to have more of a chance to do something in the league, because a Europa League place might be slightly easier to target than in England. ‘
Full coverage and live updates on the Coronavirus (Covid – 30)
GIPHY App Key not set. Please check settings