Alan Pardew returned to Premier League management admitting he has a point to prove and claiming lessons learned from Formula One and rugby will help him prove it.
Eleven months after being sacked by Crystal Palace, Pardew still believes the decision to end his reign of almost two years was harsh.
Now, after a managerial sabbatical spent broadening his horizons in other sports and the world of business as well as on the TV screen, the former Newcastle and West Ham manager is back and pledging to get a faltering Albion back on the front foot.
Pardew was sacked by Palace last December, since when he has adopted some unusual methods for self-improvement including spending time with England rugby coach Eddie Jones and two Grand Prix teams.
“Eddie is someone who came to visit me at Crystal Palace when he first arrived,” said Pardew. “He is a coach who sucks information in. I think he has been to see Gareth Southgate too.
“I have been over to Penny Hill (England’s rugby training base) a couple of times. When I used to work for Southampton I stayed there. It is interesting to see how he has taken that forward. It really is. There are a couple of things he did on the training ground that I will definitely introduce here.
“In Formula One, I have been a guest of Force India, and also Marussia who now unfortunately have gone. That industry is not unlike the Premier League. You go from one week to the next, one race to the next. If you don’t develop the car you will fall behind.
“These margins are something we have always worked on. It is about making sure when we enter the building on Saturday we are trying to cover all of that.
“Have we taken the team forward? Have we introduced something new? Have we sparked something in the side? Looking at other industries, there are some interesting parallels.”
Failure to make continued improvement was the charge that Palace deemed proven against Pardew, and which earned him the sack after a sequence of six wins in 36 games.
It is a decision that still stings for a man who returned to Selhurst Park as a popular former player, and he admits his departure has left him with a point to prove.
“I did feel a little bit harshly done by on that decision,” admitted. “Of course you can justify it by saying on that particular run I had to go and that’s how the media is but sometimes as a manager with the relationship you have, I felt I had a bit more trust than that. But OK, now you get another go.”
And Pardew is also unhappy with the widely-held perception that his impact at clubs is short-term only. He has developed a reputation for alarming drops in form leading to dismissal, but he believes the tag is unjust.
“I think it’s a little bit unfair,” he said. “When I left Newcastle some Geordie fans came up saying ‘we’re disappointed you got the sack’.
“I didn’t get the sack, I left, and when I did leave we were ninth. With the clubs I’ve managed you’re going to get difficult spells. I’ve not been fortunate enough to be at Arsenal or Liverpool where you can win 70-80 per cent of your games.
“You’re going to have spells where you have to dig in and at times at Newcastle Mike Ashley did very well for me, stuck by me in some difficult times, and in the end I managed to turn it around.
“Sometimes it’s a bit of real hardcore grinding from the chairman can help a manager in these clubs. I’m open-minded, I still don’t think I’m perfect by any stretch of the imagination but I hope I’m a good manager for West Brom.”