NEWCASTLE United head coach John Carver expects the unexpected at Selhurst Park tonight.
Supporters might that think they saw it all during Alan Pardew’s tenure on Tyneside.
But Carver thinks otherwise.
And he believes that Pardew will be plotting a tactical surprise when his Crystal Palace team takje on the Magpies in tonight’s Premier League meeting.
Pardew took video analyst Ben Stevens with him to Selhurst, and the 53-year-old, it seems certain, will have pored over footage and data ahead of the reunion with Newcastle.
For his part, Carver, Pardew’s assistant at Newcastle, will attempt to second-guess his former boss, who has guided Palace to three league wins since walking out on United after a chequered four years on Tyneside.
“Both him and Ben Stevens, the analyst, know us inside out,” said Carver.
“He does have a bit of an advantage. We can look at how they play, but I know how he thinks. I think I know him inside out.
“He’ll have a surprise up his sleeve, there’ll be something out of the ordinary that he’ll throw in during the game.
“It could be a set-play – it could be anything – because he’s a bit like that.
“But in the four or five games I’ve seen of Palace, I can see his stamp being put on the team, definitely.
“They’ve got a good team – they’ve got a good group of players – and, because he’s a good coach, he’s getting the best out of them.”
Carver worked with Yannick Bolasie, back from the African Cup of Nations, at Plymouth, where he had a spell as assistant to Paul Mariner.
And he feels Pardew has inherited a strong squad at Selhurst Park, where he spent four years of his playing career.
“As you can see with the results, he’s got them well-organised and well-drilled,” said Carver.
“He’s got some good players, let’s not forget it’s not all about Alan. It’s about the team as well. He’s got players coming back like Bolasie, who I worked with at Plymouth. He’s an outstanding talent.
“(Mile) Jedinak’s coming back from his victory with Australia.
“He’s got some good players – (Wilfried) Zaha, (Jason) Puncheon.”
Pardew said he left Newcastle with his “head held high”
However, he is unlikely to be applauded for his efforts by United’s travelling fans given the torrid 2014 they endured.
“I thought I did a good job and walked out with my head held high, and so I’m looking forward to the game,” said Pardew.
“I’m not expecting or hoping for any reaction.
“We had some great times together. It was not so great the last year, but on the whole my experience there was great.”
If Pardew had any regrets about his time at St James’s Park, he hasn’t admitted to them.
And Carver feels that he isn’t the kind of person to harbour regrets.
“I don’t think anybody who decides to leave a situation has regrets,” said Carver.
“If you decide to move on, it’s always what’s right in your head. He liked the people, he did a good job at the club but he’s moved on now.
“I don’t think he’s one of these guys who regrets anything he does.”
There were suggestions that Pardew might have wanted to take Carver, appointed head coach at United until the end of the season, with him to Selhurst Park.
But Carver said: “There’s no reason for me to go to Crystal Palace unless I lose my job here!”