The Crystal Palace Managerial Appointment Handbook must be pretty short. More of a pamphlet. Or perhaps just a small folded note, passed from director to director.
- Identify the most obvious candidates to coach the club
- Give one the job
Palace managerial appointments come out of whatever the opposite of left-field is — center field? Right field? First base?
The “Neil Warnock and Tony Pulis are basically interchangeable” concept ran sadly aground over the weekend as Warnock was axed only months into his second spell at the club. That second spell came about because Pulis quit just before the season started, and all chairmen of borderline EPL clubs have Warnock’s number on speed dial.
With the club in relegation peril and the transfer window about to open, you can understand why Palace would want a seemingly safe choice. Especially when three eye-raising appointments this time last season – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Cardiff, Rene Meulensteen at Fulham, Pepe Mel at West Brom – all bombed.
But Palace ALWAYS want the obvious: a Brit who’s either a coaching veteran or played for the club. Palace are 109 years old and are based in arguably the most cosmopolitan city in the world, but all their permanent managers have been British.
The sole foreigner, the Italian Attilio Lombardo, enjoyed a brief spell as interim player-coach in 1998. This, after all, is the club that appointed Steve Coppell as manager four times — that same Steve Coppell that was Director of Football during Lombardo’s short turn on the bench. Palace stick to what they know.
Now they’re being heavily linked with Alan Pardew, who is one of the more reliable English options around (despite what Newcastle fans may believe) and played for a good Palace team in the late eighties and early nineties, when he possibly also moonlighted as a member of Spandau Ballet.
Naturally this spell in south London 25 years ago has given him an unbreakable psychic bond with the very soul of Selhurst Park, making him the man most likely to get the most out of Barry Bannan.
True, Palace have also been linked with Tony Popovic, who is Australian. But being Australian is nearly as good as being British (it’s in the Commonwealth, after all) and Pops did play for Palace for five seasons.
He’s certainly not leading the race, though. At least not according to British bookmaker William Hill, who have Pardew well out in front. Tim Sherwood, is next, a bit of a surprise since he lacks a Palace connection, although not as much of a surprise as Vitor Pereira, who is Portuguese and has never managed in England. But the Palace handbook dictates Pardew will be offered the job, so there’s little risk in naming him the top contender.