When you’ve employed a manager halfway through a season who completely turns your team’s fortunes around and converts them from relegation certainties to mid-table high-fliers, it’s a fairly safe assumption that you’d do everything you could to keep them in charge of your club.
It doesn’t seem like that’s what’s happened at Crystal Palace.
On Thursday night, it was confirmed that Tony Pulis had left the club by ‘mutual consent’ (whatever that means), and thousands of Palace fans grimaced into their cornflakes the next morning as they heard of the crisis talks between Pulis and co-chairman Steve Parish shortly before the Welshman departed the club.
Make no mistake, this is bad news for Palace.
The friction between Pulis and Parish has apparently been brewing for some time, and the main content of the disputes has centred around transfer policy. Pulis had apparently been very keen to cement Palace’s Premier League status by buying some proven Premier League quality. Parish, not quite so keen.
So now that he’s gone, what next for Palace? Parish needs to get his next manager hire spot on if Palace are to avoid an ignominious fall from grace. Let’s review the candidates:
Millen is the man in charge of Palace this weekend, and has been at the club since November 2012. There is a suggestion that Pulis’ ex-assistant could be the man to step into the hot-seat, and the bookies currently have him as fourth favourite to get the job on a long-term basis.
For what it’s worth, I believe this would be utter folly. Millen only has one year of managerial experience to his name, it wasn’t terribly successful and it wasn’t even in the Premier League. If Palace want to stay up, Millen isn’t their man. Nevertheless, given that Parish was prepared to squabble with Pulis over a few million quid that could well have cemented Palace’s status, it does seem like Parish isn’t too bothered about whether they stay up or not. As long as the coffers are full, he seems happy. Not exactly a chairman of the people.
The ex-Celtic boss is 12/1 to be the next man in charge at Selhurst Park, and this speculation is a little more understandable.
The Scot did a great job up in Glasgow, and will be anxious to test himself in a more competitive arena, which makes him a hot prospect for a job like this one. Nevertheless, having tasted serious success in Scotland, it remains to be seen whether Lennon will be prepared to take a job that appears massively risky. Let’s make no bones about it, Palace could and should have gone down last year, and really only survived due to Pulis. Their squad is not much better than it was last season, and without the right manager, they won’t survive this year. Is this really something Lennon wants on his CV?
The Scot may prefer to take a Championship job or – best case scenario – a mid-table Premier League job, with high stakes attached to the Palace one.
Everyone’s favourite footballing fool is next up, and the fact that ‘Tiger Tim’ is 2/1 to get the Palace job illustrates that he is one of the front runners. Will it happen? Almost certainly not.
Earlier this summer, Sherwood reportedly turned down the West Brom job as it wasn’t the right opportunity for him (although to be fair, this was only the report from Sherwood, who, let’s face it, isn’t the most reliable of sources). If he didn’t fancy it at the Hawthorns, it’s unlikely that he’ll fancy the gig at Selhurst Park, especially as he can only play one style of football – buccaneering nonsense. Set a Palace team up like he did the Spurs side and Palace are up a certain creek without a single paddle.
Perceived as the wronged man in the spat with Vincent Tan last season, ex-Cardiff boss Mackay is the bookie’s favourite to end up in South London. On paper he’d appear to be a decent candidate: after all, this was the man who got Cardiff up and, until Tan had his tantrum, it appeared very much like the South Wales club could have survived last season.
The Scot sets his sides up to be hard to beat, and that’s exactly what Palace will need during what will be a very challenging season for them in this post-Pulis era.
It remains to be seen who’ll get the job long term, but one thing’s for certain, no manager that Parish can attract will have a proven track record like Pulis. This might not be fatal for Palace (yet), but it’s not far off.
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