Pardew delight as Puncheon stays on
Published 15/05/2015 | 14:21
Alan Pardew believes Jason Puncheon committing his long-term future to Crystal Palace will convince other top stars to stay on at Selhurst Park.
Palace boss Pardew has revealed former Southampton winger Puncheon has signed a four-year contract extension with the Croydon club.
Defender Damien Delaney has also completed a one-year contract extension, as Palace start the process of retaining in-form stars like Puncheon, and in-demand Yannick Bolasie.
Pardew has already slapped a £60million price tag on Democratic Republic of Congo winger Bolasie this term, and now believes Puncheon's loyalty will help keep his squad together.
"Yes it does help keep other players at the club," said Pardew, after Puncheon committed to Palace until June 2019.
"You need to keep your best technical players.
"The level we are at, in terms of that 10 or 15 clubs below the very top teams, it's difficult to get players of Punch's ability.
"So it's very important for us to secure him, I'm very pleased about it.
"He can play a number of roles and we can look forward to seeing more of him next year."
Puncheon flourished under Tony Pulis as Palace pulled away from a relegation fight to finish 11th last term, before the arrival of Neil Warnock threatened his future at the club at the start of the current campaign.
Pulis walked out on the eve of the season after rows about transfer policy, with Warnock returning to Palace in a stop-gap capacity.
Warnock had fallen out with Puncheon publicly after criticising the pacy midfielder's missed penalty against Tottenham.
Puncheon was all set to leave Palace in January, only for Warnock to be sacked in December and Pardew to subsequently take over after parting company with Newcastle.
Pardew worked with Puncheon at Southampton, and admitted his delight that the 28-year-old had completed new Palace terms.
"I don't think he needs to repay anyone really," said Pardew.
"He came here and the mood was right for him and the club, but I think he's found a home here, and a leadership.
"You musn't underestimate the influence he has over young players here.
"Our academy, and I don't have a problem saying it, is 80 per cent black.
"We need some black players here setting the right example.
"And Jason Puncheon, he's fantastic, and they need to look up to him and see that you can reach the heights of the Premier League here."
Pardew hailed Puncheon as Palace's top-performing player since he assumed the manager's role in January.
"Since I came in halfway through the season, Jason Puncheon has been the best player," said Pardew.
"He's orchestrated our play, we've added and I've given him more responsibility than he's ever had, in terms of a central role.
"And he's answered all those questions.
"And he's now made himself the intelligence of the team.
"He's very influential and very important."
Palace face Liverpool on Saturday, in Steven Gerrard's final Anfield bow before joining LA Galaxy in the summer.
Pardew was West Ham manager when Gerrard's last-gasp long-range strike denied the Hammers FA Cup glory in the 2006 final.
Liverpool salvaged a 3-3 draw at the death and went on to lift the cup on penalties, and Pardew still recalls Gerrard offering words of consolation before launching the celebrations.
Pardew hailed Gerrard's "mystique" that will cement his place in Anfield folkore.
"I heard he said his best goal was the cup final goal against West Ham, for the equaliser," said Pardew.
"Nigel Reo-Coker just dropped off him at the death, and Steven smashed it into the bottom corner.
"He's done that consistently throughout his career, come up with an inspirational moment for Liverpool, and that's why he's loved.
"And that's why he has that tremendous mystique to his playing career.
"He came up and consoled me after the cup final rather than celebrate, so that just shows the measure of the man."
Pardew also tipped former club Newcastle to beat the drop, backing under-fire boss John Carver to ease the Magpies to safety in their final two Premier League clashes.
"No I don't think they'll go down," said Pardew.
"If someone had said to me when I left that with two games to go they couldn't finish above us, I would have said you were completely mad.
"It's a strange scenario where they find themselves, and now the starting XI must produce at QPR, and they must produce at West Ham.
"I've great confidence that they will, they've been through a few wars, so they are battle-weary and battle-ready, and hopefully they can show the fight in them to get over the line."