After sacking Frank De Boer after only four games in charge, how much longer can Crystal Palace manage to get away with short-term plans?
Four games into the new Premier League season and we’ve already had our first managerial sacking. Frank De Boer lasted a grand total of 77 days in charge of Crystal Palace, astonishingly shorter than his spell at Inter Milan last season by a week, despite talk from the club all summer about ‘evolution, not revolution’ and wanting to bring the club from a team that battles relegation every season into a mid-table team who do not have to rely on playing football that revolves around having a defence that is hard to beat and playing hoofball.
Palace hiring De Boer seemed to suggest, on the outside looking in, they were looking to change their model and go for a more Ajax-esque approach but that is not an approach that can just happen overnight and it is not something that can just be immediately brought in.
Palace have had an awful start to the season under De Boer, they have lost all four games with no goals scored but yet, they arguably should have won against Burnley yesterday and De Boer showed that he was willing to adapt to his team, switching from a 343 formation to 433.
Palace dominated the entire game, created a slew of chances, there was nothing more that the manager realistically could have done more. He is not the one to blame that they missed a golden chance to score from two yards out nor is he to blame for a horrendous back pass going wrong that ultimately lead to Burnley scoring and winning the game. It was a game of incredible unfortunate luck for Palace, and one where they could have won if small events had gone their way. This was played right in front of their American owners, how could they not have seen the improvements they were making and how well they played?
How can they, or Steve Perish – who went on Twitter the night before De Boer’s sacking calling for ‘sense’ and that ‘we have to stick together’- not understand that it is almost impossible to expect somebody to be able to use a team that has been built by Tony Pulis and Alan Pardew and expect them to be able to play football built on the ideals of Johan Cruyff.
It’s hard to see any long-term planning at Crystal Palace. Frank De Boer was not even Palace’s first choice to be manager, as they had been targeting Marco Silva originally until he had decided to join Watford. Marco Silva is a very good manager and it is easy to see why Palace would have wanted him – what he had achieved at Hull last season despite not being able to prevent them from being relegated was superb.
But Marco Silva is not like Frank De Boer, they do not share the kind of philosophies to how football should be played so why they did hire De Boer at all? If they wanted a manager like Pulis, Pardew, Allardyce or even Roy Hodgson, why not hire somebody like that to begin with? If they are going to be hiring Hodgson, as expected, why did they not go for him in the summer when he was already available?
Even then, Palace did not invest in the team during the transfer window, they spent very little to help ease the club into what they would have hoped De Boer would build the team into. The one big investment they did make was buying Sakho, a player they would have bought regardless of De Boer being the manager or not anyway and one they waited until deadline day to purchase. The short-sightedness of Palace in this entire fiasco is quite puzzling and it’s very difficult to understand how they legitimately believed that De Boer could have done anything with players who do not suit his style of football and are uncomfortable playing it.
Roy Hodgson is not a bad choice to be manager for Crystal Palace, if anything he is perfectly suited to him and is a more fitting manager for the club than De Boer ever was. While most will remember and judge him for his spells at both Liverpool and England, Hodgson does well at clubs where he is expected to keep them up and achieve a mid-table spot.
He did a very good job at both Fulham and West Brom, it would be expected that he would be able to keep Crystal Palace up as well. But that only raises further questions – Hodgson is seventy years old, he is not going to be at the club for long and it would not be surprising to see him resign from the club after the season has finished if he keeps Palace up, much like Allardyce, and not have his career go out on a whimper after his spell as England manager. What exactly do Palace do then? What is the next plan for them after Roy?
If they can only play in a certain kind of football, they are limiting themselves to a small pool of managers who can play that way and be expected to keep them up? But is that what Palace want? If they’re entire aspirations is nothing more but to stay in the league and nothing more, it will catch up on them. You only have to look at Wigan, Aston Villa, Sunderland and Newcastle United to see how that plays out for clubs.
It also raises the other question – Crystal Palace’s next four games are; Southampton, Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea. Palace are going to be the underdogs in all four of those games and while they might get a result against Southampton, it is hard to see them winning the three other games. They’ve already set a very dangerous precedent of firing a manager after a poor start after four games and you would have to be very naive to believe that Palace were not having talks with Hodgson before the Burnley game either, so does Hodgson also risk losing his job if they do lose their three games or all four?
If he doesn’t, why would he get a pass and not De Boer? There just does not seem to be any logic or reason to the decisions that the Palace board are making, no long-term planning or insight. In seventy-seven days, they managed to go from a club that looked like they were aspiring to be more than they have been for the last couple of seasons since they’ve been promoted to the Premiership, to a team that is now the biggest laughing-stock in the country and one that once again looks to be no better than they were this time last year under Alan Pardew.
How long can they possibly expect to be able to keep getting away with short-termism before it eventually catches up with them?