FORMER glazier Alan Pardew has put his man-management skills down to his humble roots – and says that’s why he can cope with enigmatic characters like Hatem Ben Arfa.
The 50-year-old Newcastle boss currently presides over a squad of home-grown and international players and has managed to mould them into a unit which is sustaining an unlikely challenge for Champions League qualification as the Premier League season draws to a close.
Pardew himself was a late developer as a player, emerging from the non-league ranks – where he played while working as a glazier – as a 25-year-old before making his name at Crystal Palace.
However, he believes that route into professional football gave him a valuable insight into how best to handle complex characters such as Ben Arfa, who is currently in stunning form after shedding his tag as France’s ‘enfant terrible’.
In an interview with The Manager, the official magazine of the League Managers’ Association, Pardew said: “It was a very important route because you understand the workplace and what the media represents to the working man.
“When I was a glazier, I was reading the newspaper every day and that was my only insight into the football world.
“When you play in non-league football, you meet a cross-section of characters that you don’t meet in professional football.
“You might have a company chief executive and a dustbin man playing side-by-side in the same non-league team, so you come across many characters from different walks of life whereas in professional football, you have football-focused individuals who have based most of their upbringing on football because it was going to be their career from day one.
“Due to the playing route that I took, I have experienced diversity of character, so when I come across what may be classed as a ‘difficult or enigmatic character’ in the football world, it’s not much of a problem for me.”