Crystal Palace needs a manager fast
Crystal Palace are just over a week away from the start of the preseason, with 10 players due to report on July 5, and no manager. Lucien Favre’s sudden turnaround, which came shortly after Nuno Espirito Santo’s pursuit collapsed late in the process, is a hammer blow to their preparations.
It’s a team that desperately needs direction, that needs new faces, that needs a manager. Palace’s best-worked plans were in tatters. They were dazzled by the prospect of Nuno, and that’s understandable, before it all fell apart when he seemed close. They quickly identified Favre after the Swiss coach approached the club as their best option. This, too, collapsed at the final hurdle.
But these were opportunistic approaches for managers whose appointments matched Palace almost perfectly. The reaction from Premier League supporters has been almost unanimous in terms of positivity, and some like Tottenham Hotspur, even envy.
This mood then turned sour and Palace must quickly address their most alarming concern. In doing so, they will return to their original list of possible candidates. The most logical option, if you are looking for someone with experience, whose strengths and weaknesses are well known, is Sean Dyche. This directly contradicts the criteria originally considered for the most part, but it would be the safe option to secure Premier League status and provide a platform to build on again.
Yes, Burnley just signed Nathan Collins from Stoke for £ 12million, and yes, Dyche would cost more – much more than any other manager on their initial long list of potential candidates – but the cost of relegation is much higher. Going down would be catastrophic for Palace.
For any discussion of the possibility of rebuilding, to give young people a chance, the obvious misconception is that they wouldn’t be able to do it in the championship. If Wilfried Zaha stays this summer, there is no way he will be ready to stay in the event of relegation. Likewise, disgruntled players would be far from suitable for a reconstruction project.
If this saga hadn’t lasted so long, if the deals for Nuno and Favre hadn’t collapsed, one might have expected to build on the legacy Roy Hodgson has put in place after four successful seasons. Hodgson has never been more than a stopgap to some extent – despite becoming the club’s longest-serving manager in 30 years – someone to stabilize the ship after Frank de Boer. He did it admirably and successfully, and that should have allowed some progress.
But can Palace afford, with so little time and such a small workforce, to hire the perfect manager in the medium and long term? Is there a manager who will not only be at low risk in terms of retention, promotion, while providing opportunities, if any, to this talented generation of young people?
There is an offer of a new contract from Burnley on the table for Dyche, but it has yet to be officially signed. There must be a question of what precisely is the reasoning behind this. He has long been admired by President Steve Parish and would likely consider an offer from Palace if it arose.
Account was taken of Javi Gracia, the former head coach of Watford and Valencia out of work since May, and Marco Silva, whose presentation impressed before Favre was preferred. Neither would be ideal in this situation.
We don’t think Eddie Howe particularly enjoys work, but it’s hard to pinpoint him as the answer. A relegation with Bournemouth and a year of absence will not have advanced his case anyway.
It’s hard to overstate how essential it is for Palace to act urgently to find their new manager – even more so than before. Anyone overseas would have to be quarantined and miss the start of preseason training. Given the precarious nature of the current situation, the instinct would be to shop local.
If safety is less important and they revert to their original criteria, and there’s a fresher, more eye-catching option left, it’s Frank Lampard. It is unclear how much he would be inclined to take the opportunity, given that he will realize that he is indeed so low on their list of preferred candidates. There is no experience in a relegation battle, and stepping into such a threadbare team with so many things that need changing might not be appealing.
But Lampard would do it on several fronts. His nomination would bring an element of congratulations, his reputation and achievements as a player will serve him well. Then, his apparent desire to promote from within as a manager; using the talent trained by the academy first in Derby County and Chelsea, is a check mark in the box of young player development.
He would also bring renewed energy to the team, a new approach and, potentially, dynamic ideas to help reinvigorate this aging team that has suffered another blow from Achilles’ injuries to Eberechi Eze and Nathan Ferguson.
Of those on that original roster, Valerien Ismael moved to West Bromwich Albion from Barnsley, Chris Wilder still doesn’t seem to fit the recruiting structure in place and Steve Cooper would feel like a disappointing date.
There are no easy answers, but Palace must have a manager in place for the start of preseason training. Whether that person fits the criteria that were originally put in place is debatable, but now is the time to act decisively, even if it doesn’t end with hiring the perfect person.
(Photo: James Williamson – AMA / Getty Images)