Steve Parish, Tony Pulis, and the issue at Crystal Palace 0

Last night, Crystal Palace and Tony Pulis agreed to part ways less than forty-eight hours before the beginning of the new season.  Supposedly, a disagreement regarding transfer targets and the club’s general ambition has led to a deterioration in the relationship between Pulis and Steve Parish, the club chairman.

We’ve heard of this kind of problem before and it’s not unusual for managers and chairmen/owners to disagree and bicker over budgets and wage structures.  Parish is a businessman, Pulis is a football manager: it’s not particularly surprising that their opinions on where the line should be between financial responsibility and ambition differ somewhat.

But there’s something strange about this situation and you can’t help but feel that there is more to it than is being reported.  While disagreements in this area are commonplace, it’s relatively unique for them to come to a head just two days before a new season starts.  Something similar happened at Aston Villa with Martin O’Neil a couple of years ago, but this is still highly bizarre.

At the end of a season, most clubs hold a series of meetings with their incumbent manager and it’s during that process that the objectives for the Summer are established.  How much money is available, what percentage of that is the manager free to spend on the squad, what profile of player and they going to chase during the window - it’s an opportunity to clarify all of those issues and create a road-map to the new season.

So, on the presumption that there was a dialogue between Parish and Pulis back in May, what has happened since?  Why has it taken this long for the two of them to realise that they’re in such opposition to each other?

The obvious answer - and, I guess, assumption - is that there’s a U-turn involved in this and promises that were previously made have been broken. But even if that’s true, the timeline still seems exaggerated; would it not have become apparent relatively quickly that these two were working with different purposes?

The blame will unquestionably fall on Parish now, because chairmen are always portrayed as the gatekeepers of hope and ambition.  Does it not seem likely though that, given the job done by Pulis last season, Parish would have appeased his manager during this conflict and done everything he possibly could to preserve the relationship?  Regardless of what people believe about Steve Parish and his personality, he unquestionably understands the importance of Premier League survival and obviously also appreciates that entering a season without a manager is not really conducive to that.

In this instance top-flight status and the broadcasting contract trump ego, and so it’s logical to believe that whatever has come between these two is far greater than merely a disagreement about a player or a slight ideological difference in relation to finance.  Pulis no longer has a job and Parish has seen his side become a relegation favourite overnight: neither will have taken the decision to move in that direction lightly.

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