Friends reunited

CHRIS LAKEY Old pals Peter Grant and Alan Pardew will be reunited at The Valley, separated by a few yards of touchline - and a five-day vow of silence. Grant and his Charlton counterpart first joined forces at Reading and were a team at West Ham until last October, when the former Canaries midfielder left his role as assistant manager to take over the Carrow Road helm - two months before Pardew was sacked by the Hammers.

CHRIS LAKEY

Old pals Peter Grant and Alan Pardew will be reunited at The Valley, separated by a few yards of touchline - and a five-day vow of silence.

Grant and his Charlton counterpart first joined forces at Reading and were a team at West Ham until last October, when the former Canaries midfielder left his role as assistant manager to take over the Carrow Road helm - two months before Pardew was sacked by the Hammers.

It is a relationship that has endured, although both men agreed to a telephone moratorium in the build-up to their first game in opposite dug-outs.

“I spoke to him on Thursday, and I said, 'I won't be speaking to you over the weekend because I want to kill you over the next few days',” laughed Grant. “That was the last time we will talk up to the game, after the game, apart from probably shouting at each other on the touchline.

“I have a lot to thank him for, but he knows tomorrow night there will be no quarter asked, no quarter given. We are both there desperate to beat each other, that goes without saying.”

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Pardew took Grant to Reading as a player in 1999, and then from his assistant manager's role at Bournemouth to Upton Park in January, 2004.

Between them they took West Ham into the Premier League, where they finished mid-table and reached the FA Cup final in 2005-06. But after a shaky start to last season, new owners at Upton Park and the demise of Norwich manager Nigel Worthington, the partnership was over.

“If somebody said a year ago when the two of us were working together at West Ham that we would be in different dugouts as managers of different clubs, that would have come as a surprise,” Grant admitted. “I had just signed a five-year contract, Alan had just signed a five-year contract, so to say 10 months down the line we would be in opposite dugouts as managers against each other I don't think anybody would have foreseen that, especially after the Premier League season we had had, and getting to the FA Cup final. That's how quickly football changes.”

Grant admitted he was fully prepared to pick Pardew's brains if necessary.

“He has an awful lot of experience being a manager, you see different things that you learn from him, good and bad,” he said. “I think that is important, seeing the strength of character he had when we had tough times at West Ham as well. There are a lot of things you take from that and you learn from it and probably that is one of the reasons I felt I was ready to be my own man as well, because I had been through the experiences with Alan at West Ham, good and bad.

“A club of that size with massive pressure and massive expectations - it gives you a fantastic learning experience for both of us. We grew very close in that period and are obviously still close, even though we are rivals.

“I have no qualms in asking him what he thinks of certain situations, and I am sure he would be able to say the same about me if he asks me things in difficult times. I think we worked very, very well together.”

Pardew, meanwhile, believes Grant is the man to lead City back to the top flight.

“I'm looking forward to seeing him,” he said. “I know his team are going to be very well organised and up for the match and it will be a big game for us because it is a good opportunity for us to break into the top three.

“If you looked at it short term you would say Peter has done okay, but long term I know he is putting the foundations there for success and that is the type of person he is and is why he will be a good manager.”