Five managers to save Crystal Palace from PL relegation
Neil Warnock became the first managerial casualty of the season when Crystal Palace axed him after a woeful winter run of one win in a dozen Premier League outings.
Coral make the Eagles 6/4 third-favourites for relegation; however, they were fancied for that last term, but stayed up after making a change in the dugout.
And that fact got our football experts thinking; who could save Palace from the drop? We’ve picked out five bosses that could do that. The theme is one of returns, be it to Selhurst Park and/or management:
Tony Pulis (7/1)
Who better to start with than Warnock’s predecessor and the man who came in and saved the Eagles from relegation? Pulis has not worked since leaving Palace on the eve of this campaign, so might the season of goodwill bring about reconciliation between himself and club chairman Steve Parish?
It was a difference of opinion over transfers and recruitment that seemed to have been what forced Pulis to walk away in August. There would need to be some hands put in pockets in the Eagles’ nest to help a Second Coming be as successful as the first time around, then.
Pulis is a proven Premier League manager, establishing Stoke City as a top-flight mainstay before making history with Palace by keeping them up last term. Defensive solidity would be a preference to the silly mistakes made at the back in recent Eagles outings.
Tim Sherwood (5/2)
Former Tottenham head coach Sherwood is a short-price favourite, and has just five months of managerial experience to call upon. Why is he so fancied?
Previously linked with Palace and their bitter rivals Brighton and Hove Albion, he was understood to have reservations about both posts. The Seagulls job went to Sami Hyypia, but the Liverpool and Finland legend stepped down before Christmas and again Sherwood was mentioned in dispatches.
Pulis also reportedly said he would consider talking to Brighton, but the Eagles are a Premier League proposition. That will appeal to Sherwood, whose honesty is refreshing for fans but could make him be seen as something of a loose cannon in the boardroom, which may have been a sticking point before.
Dougie Freedman (12/1)
Many would consider ex-Scotland striker Freedman lucky to walk back into his old shoes as Palace boss, because he left the club to manage Bolton Wanderers in October 2012. While that did not deny the Eagles promotion, with Ian Holloway sending them up, some sections of the support felt their former playing favourite had betrayed them.
Freedman then found life very tough at the Trotters. He lasted just less than two years in charge in what has been a downward spiral for Bolton that started since Sam Allardyce left.
Laying the foundations for Palace’s promotion is something many have forgotten, and a relatively long price for Freedman reflects the fact he has never managed at Premier League level before.
Chris Hughton (6/1)
Another Spurs old boy, Hughton counts Newcastle United and Norwich City among his previous coaching posts. His best work has perhaps been done in the Championship, steering the Magpies to the title and getting Birmingham City into the play-offs.
Pulis apart, Hughton has the most Premier League managerial experience of anyone we have short-listed for the Palace job. Critics of him, especially during his time at Carrow Road, complained of predictable and rigid tactics, but it is not innovation that the Eagles need; it’s points!
Tony Popovic (8/1)
Former Palace captain Popovic was assistant to Freedman before returning home to Australia to take over at Western Sydney Wanderers. Voted the AFC confederation’s Coach of the Year for 2014, he took his current club to a historic first-ever Asian Champions League title.
That success Down Under makes Popovic hot property, but would a jump into a relegation battle be best for this up-and-coming manager? As a player he was an influential skipper and sweeper-type centre back, so his return would prove popular. Eagles fans could expect their team to tighten up at the back with Popovic in charge.