Crystal Palace and the downside of a new manager 2

James Knight discusses the current managerial vacancy at Crystal Palace…

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By the time Crystal Palace take to the field at Hull in their next game it will be exactly a month since Ian Holloway left Selhurst Park. At the time of writing, there doesn’t seem to be any immediate prospect of a replacement coming in. Should there be?

Getting into the sort of no man’s land Wolves found themselves in two seasons ago, when Terry Connor ended up in charge basically by default, is obviously not a good thing; but this situation is a bit different. Palace are, almost certainly, going to be relegated. Their own over-performance last year meant their squad was some way off being good enough to compete at this level even before the loss of Wilfried Zaha and Glenn Murray’s long-term injury.
Now a poor start has probably put paid to what faint hopes there were, is it actually worth appointing a permanent manager for the rest of this season? When Derby County went down with a record low points total they sacked Billy Davies in November and left his replacement, Paul Jewell, with a woefully below-par squad and, instead of getting any benefit from the change of manager, his side was promptly walloped for the rest of the season anyway. All it meant was the new man had none of the goodwill or positivity around the club when they were back in the Championship and he couldn’t turn the rot around.

When Holloway left, Steve Parish said that he “would happily have gone down with Ian in charge”. Would the club be better off in the long run if he decides to happily go down with Keith Millen in charge instead? Accepting relegation isn’t necessarily a negative move if it offers the best chance of long term success. Unless there is a stand-out, attainable candidate now – which there presumably isn’t given the lack of appointment – why pick someone just for the sake of it?

Perhaps it would be more prudent for Palace to appoint Millen (or someone else) on a short-term deal until the end of the season, when they can reassess and look to find a permanent replacement from a stronger position. Not only would there be a bigger – and better – pool of candidates, they would be a rich fish in the Championship pond, a much more attractive prospect to both potential players and managers alike and, crucially, one without the prospect of losing constantly for six months before reaching that point hanging over them.

If a new man comes in now, he would no doubt want substantial backing in the next transfer window to try to keep Palace up. Instead of throwing a Hail Mary pass at avoiding the drop in January, maybe a calmer, more realistic play is the best policy. Take relegation standing up, and plan on coming back a much stronger side.

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