Alan Pardew is joining Sky Sports for the 2017/18 season, bringing his unique perspective as a manager of no fewer than four Premier League teams. Here, he tells Adam Bate what he hopes to offer as a pundit and why he is not done with management just yet…
The newest pundit in the building has just finished his stint on Sky Sports News before being whisked away for another chat. "I am learning and picking up little things as I go along," he explains. There are the usual handshakes, of course, but he also wants to know not just people's names but to understand precisely what their roles are within the company.
In short, Alan Pardew is still thinking like a manager.
Management knowledge is the quality that the former West Ham, Southampton, Newcastle and Crystal Palace boss plans to bring to his new role in front of the cameras for Sky Sports. "Having just come out of Premier League management after being in it for the last 10 years, I will hopefully be able to provide a little bit of insight for fans of the game," says Pardew.
"I will have no qualms in saying if there is a substitution that has unbalanced a team. But I would rather talk positively if I can. I am not coming on air to make life difficult for managers, I am coming on air to give fans an insight into how managers are thinking. That is something I am well versed in, particularly when managers come under pressure.
"For example, sometimes it is just about getting out of situations where it is not going well. If you are 2-0 down to Manchester United at Old Trafford it is damage limitation. So what can we get out of it? Even if it is just a consolation goal that gives a bit of credibility and allows you to take some confidence from that game into the next, that can be important.
"The manager might be on his fourth defeat in a row. So what is he going to be like on the touchline today and why? What are they hoping for and how will they get it? What are they looking to get out of this game? And why did he make those substitutions? Well, he's 3-0 down and he's taken his best player off because he knows he has to win the next game."
It is seven months since Pardew's time in charge of Crystal Palace came to an end. He has enjoyed the free time - "only the second pre-season I have missed in about 30 years" - by spending it holidaying with family as well as attending major sporting events such as the Lord's Test and the Monaco Grand Prix. But it has been a fact-finding mission too.
"I have tried to use the time in a constructive way by looking at other sports," he says. "I spent a bit of time with England's rugby union team and various Formula One teams looking at different things. It is just a case of taking little notes about how they do things and how to construct targets because everyone has different ideas about how it should be done."
Pardew is hoping his time at Sky Sports will be similarly fruitful from a career development point of view. The notebook is out here too and he is looking forward to getting stuck into the stats. Perhaps most of all, he is relishing the prospect of watching lots of football - something that, curiously, can be tricky when working in management.
"I will probably watch more as a pundit than I did as a manager because you need some rest time when you are in management," he says. "You definitely have to switch off at times because you need to be ready at 7am the next day. So I will see more football and it will give me a good feel of how the Premier League is evolving because it evolves every year.
"The tactics are always changing, for example. There is a lot more three at the back right now. Teams have always tried it but now they are setting up to play that way all season. We might have six or seven teams going with that style and I don't think all of them are going to get it right. So you can bet your life there are going to be some tactical changes."
And who is Pardew most looking forward to watching? "I think Bernardo Silva going to Manchester City is really interesting," he adds. "I really liked him at Monaco. He is a player who I think is really clever and it will be interesting to see how Pep Guardiola fits it all together because he obviously has an abundance of talent at the top end of the pitch.
"I want to see how the two Silvas work together and the same goes for Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero. I know there will be rotation with the Champions League but that is not going to stop players getting irritated if they are left out. It will be difficult to maintain that spirit so I think Pep has a tough job on his hands there in keeping everyone happy."
As for his tip for the Premier League title, it is City's neighbours who have caught his eye. "I think the favourites are always the champions until such time that another team evolves and blows Chelsea away," he adds. "Having said that, I think Manchester is where the title will end up but it might well be Manchester United. I have a good feeling for them.
"I think they are going to be strong from set-pieces because they are a huge team in terms of stature. They can deal with Burnley bombing into the box or Christian Benteke coming at them. Of course, they have pace and agility too and great experience in the shape of their manager. They are a very rounded team and I think they are going to go close."
Whether Pardew is still part of the Sky Sports team by then remains to be seen. The call of management remains strong and he has "not ruled out any project" at home or abroad. But what he can say is that he will be well prepared when he does return. "I know I'll be ready," says Pardew. "And if I'm not managing, then this is the best seat that I could possibly have."
Don't miss Tuesday night's edition of The Debate on Sky Sports Premier League at 10pm when Alan Pardew and Ian Wright join Kelly Cates to discuss the big issues ahead of the new season