Trouble At The Palace

By Bill Thomas

Even by the hair trigger standards of all too many Premier League chairmen, Steve Parish’s sacking of Frank de Boer just four games in seems like the kind of action only the NRA could applaud.

Back in the summer, all the talk from Parish when he appointed de Boer was that Crystal Palace were about to embark on a special project, carving out a new, modern, continental identity, all possession based total football that was going to enthral the denizens of Selhurst Park.

Sadly it appears that the one question he forgot to ask de Boer during the interview process was “Do you possess a magic wand?” Because if he was only going to get four games to turn Palace into the Dutch Euro 88 winners, he sure as hell needed one.

Like all too many perma-tanned self-proclaimed business tycoons, Parish is not a man short on self belief, though he is certainly suffering from an irony deficiency given that his appointment in the wake of de Boer is Roy Hodgson, as safe a pair of archetypal Anglo-Saxon hands as you could wish to find, his football a long, long way from the kind of vision that Parish was oozing lyrical about back in the summer.

In purely pragmatic terms, Hodgson is a sound choice and will, likely as not, steer Palace to safer ground and therefore guarantee the TV money for another season, the be all and end all for most top flight chairmen. But Roy is only a slightly more refined version of Sam Allardyce, the man who left Palace at the end of last season.

When Sam went, Parish made it clear that he was not enjoying the football his side was turning out and he wanted better, only to discover that as long as the money is still coming in, he could actually stomach any kind of football after all.

Certainly Palace’s start to the season has been dreadful, though there were better signs at Burnley on Sunday. Indeed, had Scott Dann not unaccountably missed a sitter, Palace would have had a first point. Would de Boer have been sacked then? Probably, because he committed the greatest sin of all – he pointed out that the emperor, sorry, chairman, has no intellectual clothes. Archly making the perfectly reasonable observation that changing an entire playing philosophy cannot be done overnight, de Boer was signing his death warrant, Parish making that obvious ahead of last weekend by pointing out that football is “a results business”, presumably while stroking a white cat and aiming a laser straight at the de Boer family jewels.

All that the de Boer interlude has done is underline there is something horribly wrong at Crystal Palace for they employ managers at a quite ridiculous rate. More worrying than that, two of the most recent ones, men who looked perfect fits, jumped of their own accord. Tony Pulis walked out on the eve of a season, Sam Allardyce retired rather than having to go through another day at Selhurst. It says little for Palace that two managers with hides like a rhinoceros couldn’t stick it out doesn’t it?

Do you think Steve Parish ever looks in the mirror and says, “Did you ever think the problem might be you?” No, probably not. Because, just like another orange faced man, you can only conclude that his self belief is a quality that feasts on the rotting corpse of his self awareness.

Crystal Palace’s Scott Dann holds his head in his hands after a missed chance during the Premier League match at Turf Moor, Burnley