Palace season starts in turmoil with search for Pulis successor
Tony Pulis will not be building on making Premier League history with Crystal Palace last term. The Eagles boss departed south London by mutual consent less than 48 hours before their season opener across the capital at Arsenal.
Needless to say, this has thrown the club into turmoil, and see their odds on relegation tumble to 7/4, after what had been a quiet summer at Selhurst Park. This transfer activity, which amounts to three first-team signings, or a perceived lack thereof is widely believed to be the source of discord that caused Pulis to quit.
Several Palace transfer targets were missed out on – a source of friction between the manager and co-chairman Steve Parish. Eagles head of recruitment Iain Moody, who has control of the purse-strings, failed to get players Pulis wanted, including centre back Steven Caulker and Iceland international midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson, which is another reported cause of the departure.
Assistant boss Keith Millen is in caretaker charge for the Arsenal match, but Parish needs a new permanent manager and fast. So who can be persuaded to take on Palace?
Malky Mackay, who worked with Moody at Cardiff City until both were sacked for a transfer budget overspend and the trouble that caused at the Bluebirds last year, is at this early stage a strong even-money favourite for the job. This is based on that previous relationship, yet the Scot is believed to have turned down a number of roles since getting his cards over Christmas.
Former clubs Norwich City and Celtic, plus West Bromwich Albion, all reportedly showed interest in appointing Mackay this summer, but he resisted such overtures. Are the Eagles the right fit? Coral’s betting on the new manager suggests a Scotsman fits the profile, as compatriots David Moyes (10/1), Billy Davies (16/1) and Steve Clarke (also 10/1) are among the early contenders.
There’s also a strong Celtic connection with Neil Lennon (8/1) joining Moyes and Mackay in this market. Tim Sherwood, sacked by Spurs during the summer, is also available at 6/1. What strikes you about all these candidates, Mackay included, is they have something to prove.
Sherwood and Moyes, in particular, will have chips on their shoulders following dismissals after and during difficult seasons last term. Taking the Palace job for either man would be a substantial step down, while the likes of Davies and Clarke should see this as a way back into management following run-ins with ruthless chairmen.
Lennon enjoyed success aplenty at Celtic, but there was always a feel the former Bhoys captain was in his comfort zone there. The Eagles are swimming with sharks in the Premier League, not big fishes in a small pond.
A positive Palace future has turned already to doom and gloom before has been kicked. Whoever takes them on must be prepared to scrap. Pulis leaves a solid defensive foundation for them, supplemented nicely by the arrivals of former Fulham captain Brede Hangeland and full back Martin Kelly.
The capture of Fraizer Campbell freshens up the Eagles attack, but there is no natural left back available to Millen or the new permanent boss. Other coaches are unlikely to keep the versatile Joel Ward there because he’s right-footed, however well he’s performed under the previous Pulis regime.
So, there are still holes to plug and two weeks, at the time of writing, in which to fill them before the transfer window slams shut. What price Palace finish bottom? They are 6/1 shots.