Connect with us

Crystal Palace

Why are Premier League clubs so keen for managerial change?

Martyn Cooke



Tony Pulis became the fifth Premier League manager to lose this job this season after the Welshman was dismissed by West Bromwich Albion on Monday morning.

The 59-year-old was handed his P45 after his side secured just two victories in their previous 21 fixtures and having received intense criticism from the Baggies’ supporters for the direct style of play that he promoted.

It was less than twelve months ago that Pulis was being widely applauded for the job that he was doing at the Hawthorns, but a poor start to the new campaign and the fear of being sucked into a relegation battle has promoted the West Brom hierarchy to press the eject button.

Pulis will certainly not be the last high-profile manager to be dismissed before the end of the season and he follows in the footsteps of five of his peers who survived even less time in the top-flight of English football this year than he did.

Frank de Boer was sacked by Crystal Palace after just five games in charge and was subsequently followed by the departures of Craig Shakespeare (Leicester City), Slaven Bilic (West Ham United) and Ronald Koeman (Everton).

The irony is that, barring de Boer, four of the five Premier League managers who have been dismissed had previously led their teams to safe, mid-table finishes during the previous campaign and looked, on paper at least, more than capable of turning the fortunes of the club around if given time.

The bigger irony of course is that Pulis, who retains his record of never being relegated and is something similar to a fire extinguisher for clubs that are in chaos, would probably be the perfect choice of manager to save West Brom had he not just been sacked.

Too many itchy trigger-fingers?

So why is it that the chairmen and owners at Premier League clubs are so eager to push the panic button this season? To put this year’s casualty list into context, at this stage last season only one top-flight manager had been axed.

Early results have certainly played their part.

West Bromwich Albion, Everton, West Ham United, Leicester City and Crystal Palace have all started the campaign poorly but, barring the horrendous run of results witnessed by those at Selhurst Park, four of those clubs were certainly not in danger of being cast adrift at the foot of the table.

If the same managers had been able to guide their clubs to the relative safety of mid-table last season, then why not give then the time to turn things around?

Just over a year ago Everton supporters were congratulating the club on signing a high-profile manager in Ronald Koeman. However, the Dutchman was quickly relieved of his duties when his summer signings failed to immediately gel.

Craig Shakespeare had transformed Leicester’s season last year after the Foxes were spiralling towards relegation in Claudio Ranieri’s second campaign, but he was swiftly chopped after an inconsistent start.

Slaven Bilic was widely perceived as being a fantastic appointment for West Ham – has his managerial magic really evaporated within twelve months?

It is also worth noting that none of the clubs that have sacked their manager have seen a drastic upturn in their fortunes and many have struggled to find replacements that have captured the imagination of the supporters.

Leicester appointed Claude Puel, a solid if relatively uninspiring choice, whilst West Ham have handed David Moyes a short-term contract despite his stock being at its lowest ever ebb after suffering relegation with Sunderland last season.

Meanwhile, Everton are still looking for Koeman’s replacement whilst Roy Hodgson has failed to guide Palace out of the relegation zone since his arrival.

So what next for West Brom? Sam Allardyce’s name has been mentioned, but is his brand of football any better than his predecessors?

The biggest problem facing Premier League sides outside the so-called ‘big clubs’ is that they are more competitive and closely aligned than ever before.

All of these teams are content with surviving, safe in the knowledge that there is little hope of breaking into the top six and that the financial rewards for retaining their place in the top-flight are more excessive than ever.

Staying on the Premier League gravy train is now more than important than ever before.

The early season form of the newly promoted clubs, Brighton and Hove Albion, Huddersfield Town and Newcastle United, has also added pressure to established top-flight sides – neither of the three look in any real danger of relegation.

There was once a time when newly promoted teams were destined for an immediate return to the Championship barring a minor miracle but, in truth, the Premier League is no longer the daunting prospect that it once was for new arrivals.

No wonder the chairmen and owners at established top-flight clubs are getting itchy trigger fingers.

The combined pressure of needing to retain their place in the Premier League to continue cashing-in on the financial benefits and the good form demonstrated by the newly promoted teams’ means that relegation is a danger that must be avoided at all costs.

The need for short term survival has replaced long term planning.

However, the example of Burnley has shown what patience can achieve. Sean Dyche achieved promotion to the Premier League in 2014 before suffering an immediate relegation back to the Championship.

However, the club chose to keep their faith in the 46-year-old and the result has been a second promotion and the club are currently trying to hold on to the coattails of the ‘big-six’ at the top of the table.

Sometimes change is needed, but at other times patience during the hard times will reap much sweeter rewards.

The current bottom six clubs have all been in the Premier League for at least five seasons – time will tell whether those that have already chosen to replace their manager have made the correct choice.

Martyn is currently a PTA and Research Assistant in the Department of Exercise Science at the Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU). In addition to his teaching role he is also undertaking a PhD in Sports History that is exploring the origins and development of football in Staffordshire. Prior to working at MMU, Martyn spent a decade operating in the sport and leisure industry in a variety of roles including as a Sports Development Officers, PE Teacher, Football Coach and Operation Manager.

Crystal Palace

Three potential England replacements for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

The Liverpool midfielder has been ruled out of the summer’s World Cup.

Jake Jackman



Photo: Getty Images

It looked bad for Liverpool and England when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was stretchered off during the first half of the Reds’ game against AS Roma in the Champions League and their worst fears were confirmed on Wednesday.

The 24-year-old has suffered a knee injury, which will keep him out of the rest of the season and this summer’s World Cup.

This is incredibly harsh news to take for the midfielder, who had been playing the best football of his career under Jurgen Klopp.

Last summer, he made a huge career decision as he chose to leave Arsenal to join top-six rivals Liverpool and, in hindsight, it has been a great move for him.

His influence and consistency have stood out from the centre of the park and England would have benefitted from that in Russia.

However, Gareth Southgate needs to readjust quickly and find a suitable alternative to the Liverpool midfielder.

Here are three players that could replace Oxlade-Chamberlain and receive a World Cup call this summer:

Ruben Loftus-Cheek – Crystal Palace

The injury to Oxlade-Chamberlain has opened up an opportunity for Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who will now have a chance of making the plane for Russia.

The midfielder has impressed at Crystal Palace and he delivered an assured performance against Germany on his international debut. Although injuries have hindered his progress since he remains one of the only dynamic midfielders available to Gareth Southgate.

Against Germany, he completed 96.2% of his passes and completed four successful dribbles. There were a lot of people that thought the call came too soon, but he looked at home on the international stage and he will be unknown to a lot of the teams England are due to face.

Oxlade-Chamberlain was going to provide the power and pace in the England midfield. Loftus-Cheek may not be as experienced as the Liverpool man, but he can step up and perform a similar role. If he can finish the season strongly, he will have a great chance of making the squad.

England Training Session And Press Conference

(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Jonjo Shelvey – Newcastle United

There are growing calls for the Newcastle United midfielder to be called up by Gareth Southgate and they will only increase with the news of Oxlade-Chamberlain’s injury.

Shelvey won’t be able to step into the same role, but he can provide different qualities and could be a worthy selection for England.

Newcastle’s recent surge up the league table have shown Shelvey in a good light and he has been a major reason for his team’s success.

The 26-year-old dictates the game from deep and has a passing range that can’t be matched by any other English player.

Against Arsenal, he was putting his team-mates in on goal at will and there is a place for his skills in the national set-up.

England have a number of quick attacking players and against better teams, Shelvey would provide a good option.

Southgate will need to set his side up to counter-attack and there is no better player to pick out the runs of Raheem Sterling and Jamie Vardy than the Newcastle midfielder.

There are risks to selecting the 26-year-old, but he deserves to be considered for the summer’s tournament.

(Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Dele Alli – Tottenham

The Tottenham midfielder is going to go to the World Cup. Nobody can debate that, but he has found himself out of the starting eleven during recent friendly matches.

The injury to Oxlade-Chamberlain may benefit him, as there will now be a midfield position up for grabs.

Alli isn’t as comfortable in a central role as Oxlade-Chamberlain, but his goal threat and intelligent movement means that he could step into the starting eleven and play well.

The 22-year-old has had his critics this season, but a return of eight goals and ten assists in the Premier League underline the quality that he provides to a team.

Southgate will need to make sure Alli knows his defensive responsibilities and that the player carries them out to the letter, as England can’t afford to carry a midfield player.

At the age of 22, this summer could be an opportunity to break out for the Tottenham man.

It would be a risk to start him in a deeper role, but the rewards may be worth it.

Continue Reading

Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace should swoop for Manchester City’s Yaya Toure on a free

The Ivorian midfielder looks set to leave the Etihad this summer.



Yaya Toure
Photo: Getty Images

When Manchester City legend Yaya Toure was thrown on to the pitch with 25 minutes to go against Swansea City on Sunday, the City faithful were given a chance to celebrate the wonderful Citizens career of the Ivorian.

It was a perfect cameo for Toure, delivering a pinpoint chipped assist to Gabriel Jesus for City’s fifth goal.

Toure celebrated at the Etihad on the way to his third Premier League title, but he faces an uncertain future as Manchester City are unlikely to offer him a new contract.

The Metro reported that the 34-year-old wishes to remain in the Premier League, and Crystal Palace should seriously consider making a move for Toure.

Palace know all too well the supreme qualities of the midfielder. When Toure made his return from the exile Pep Guardiola imposed on him in November 2016, his first appearance came at Selhurst Park.

(Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)

The Ivory Coast international absolutely bossed the show that match, scoring two emphatic goals en route to a 2-1 victory, after three months out of the first team squad. It was a timely reminder of Toure’s unique skills, which would be perfectly suited to Crystal Palace’s style of play.

Roy Hodgson’s side play matches with a high-intensity, all-action swagger, and the coolness and relentless drive of Yaya Toure would slot in seamlessly. Toure would also add an experienced head to the Eagles, with lengthy spells playing for the best teams in the world.

Even though Toure is 34 years old, he still possesses a superb reading of the game and tremendous work rate. He is truly a box-to-box midfielder, running back to snuff out danger one moment, and striding forward and leading the attack the next.

A move to Selhurst Park would suit both sides, as the Ivorian wishes to keep his young family settled in England. Crystal Palace would do brilliantly to acquire the services of the three-time Premier League champion, a transfer that would lead them to the top-half of the top-flight table.

Continue Reading

Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha should resist move away from Selhurst Park

The Ivorian winger has been key for the Eagles this season.



Wilfried Zaha
Photo: Getty Images

Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha delivered yet another superb performance this weekend, scoring a crucial brace in Palace’s 3-2 win against Brighton.

In typical fashion, following his impressive showing, many have speculated that Zaha is far too good for this Palace team and should depart Selhurst Park in the summer.

However, Zaha should resist such urges and remain at Palace, where he will shine in the spotlight as their main man and bring top-half success to the Eagles.

The most recent rumours in the Times have linked the Ivorian with a switch to Tottenham Hotspur, but his 2013 transfer to Manchester United should prove a convincing deterrent against the move to north London.

Five years ago, Zaha swapped Palace for the allure of United, eager to become a star for the Red Devils. He signed a five-and-a-half-year deal at Old Trafford, but his time in Manchester was an abject failure.

The winger only made two league appearances for United, registering zero goals, before falling out of favour with David Moyes and being loaned out to Cardiff City. Just a season later, he was back at Crystal Palace.

(Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)

This big money debacle reveals that Zaha struggles when inserted into a situation where he is not a guaranteed starter. His game thrives off of confidence, trickery, and flair; it is no coincidence his best years have come at Palace, a club that genuinely loves and appreciates him.

And, it seems the feeling is mutual.

Zaha prominently spoke this week about his intense desire to beat Brighton and silence their supporters, illustrating the winger’s cult status and loyalty to the Eagles.

For the 25-year-old, the perfect decision would be to remain at Selhurst Park this summer. Roy Hodgson will be given funds to shape the team in his image, and could easily reproduce his success at Fulham, where he inspired the Whites to a seventh-placed finish and a Europa League final.

With Zaha leading the way as the star man, the ceiling could be the limit next season for the Eagles.

Continue Reading


Copyright © 2018 The Boot Room.