THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Two administrations still haunt the Eagles

icon palacepulis19 August ~ "Who needs a manager?" sung the Crystal Palace fans at the Emirates on Saturday after new signing Brede Hangeland put is in the lead at Arsenal. However mischievously sung, and however tempting a managerless scenario for us might be, Tony Pulis had barely left before the unseemly scramble to replace him had begun. It was reported that over 30 applications had been received within 12 hours. Co-chairman Steve Parish apparently claimed that the board had a successor in mind with significant experience in the Premier League as both a player and manager. All while the aftershocks of Pulis's departure were still being felt.

The month between Ian Holloway's implosion at the start of last season and Pulis being appointed in November was steadily managed by Keith Millen, while there were plenty of "Anyone but Pulis" threads on the message boards. Shortly before Pulis was appointed one such poll had Dan Petrescu as favourite to take over with more than 70 per cent of the vote, while Pulis languished at around 25 per cent.

That was all quickly forgotten as the new manager stamped his mark on the team and (less successfully) on the club. Three quality additions were made on the last day of the January transfer window, although we had the distinct impression that Pulis was unhappy with the board's overall conduct during this period, and we claimed safety by the third week in April following three straight wins, two of them away.

Pulis was deservedly awarded Premier League manager of the season and Palace fans were looking forward to a campaign more in expectation than hope for the first time in over 20 years. We should have known. One transfer target after another (Steven Caulker, Gylfi Sigurdsson) ended up elsewhere after fees were agreed with their respective clubs and rumours of discontent over bonus discrepancies for last year's squad started to appear in the media.

There was clearly a power struggle going on, then suddenly Pulis was gone amid stirrings about the board not being held to ransom by a manager who might have bankrupted the club. As popular as Pulis eventually was, the two recent spells in administration are still too raw to contemplate for Palace fans. While there is a wistful air of "what might have been" had Pulis been able to carry on, fan sentiment is most definitely with Parish.

It is becoming clear that the favourite for the job is Tim Sherwood. News of the impending appointment is being greeted with similar enthusiasm as that of Alan Mullery, another former Tottenham player who was Palace manager for two years from 1982 having previously stoked up a rivalry with us when he was in charge of Brighton.

Parish and Sherwood are both inexperienced, but share a certain chippiness coupled with huge amounts of self-belief and an apparent inability to see an alternative view. All of which suggests that this arrangement, should it be confirmed, is unlikely to end well for Palace. It was ever thus. David Kemp

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