Crystal Palace Have Sacked Patrick Vieira, So Now What?

The South London club have a decision to make
10:01, 17 Mar 2023

Crystal Palace have come to terms on the departure of manager Patrick Vieira on Friday morning. It is a testament to the esteem in which the Frenchman is held that the sacking comes as something of a surprise. While it is hardly out of the blue, there are few managers for whom a dismissal after 12 winless matches would raise a few eyebrows.

Beyond Vieira’s promise, there are other factors at play. For a start, the Eagles are currently 12th in the Premier League. You have to go back to 2017/18 to find the last season where Palace finished higher. But dig deeper than the league placing itself and you see the crux of the problem. The South Londoners are just three points removed from 18th-placed Bournemouth, who also have a game in hand over them. If Palace aren’t careful, their midtable sanctuary could give way very quickly.


So where next for the Palace? Is it as simple as “break glass and summon Allardyce”? ‘Big’ Sam, who managed Palace previously in 2016, will certainly be everywhere you look today. Palace find themselves in a battle for survival whether they like it or not and few head coaches are as synonymous with the assignment. 

Having bid farewell to one all-time great Premier League midfielder-turned-boss, could they hire another? Frank Lampard proved his mettle in a relegation dogfight last season in keeping Everton up. While he couldn’t kick on from that success this term, you could forgive Palace for only thinking short-term. Rafa Benitez, another ex-Toffee, could be employed for similar reasons. The Spaniard knows how to rally a fanbase, as he proved by galvanising a fractured Geordie Nation under Mike Ashley at Newcastle United.

Another manager who is currently freely available and who has guided a team away from the drop is Jesse Marsch. The American took over Leeds United last season after a period of malaise under the wildly-popular Marcelo Bielsa. Marsch was able to steer the West Yorkshire club to safety. Could he do it again in the capital?


Bielsa himself is still without a club. The former Argentina manager is known for being discerning over his jobs. Bielsa turned down the chance to manage Everton when his plans were rejected. The 67-year-old wanted to take charge of the under-21s set-up at Goodison Park before leading the first team next season. It seems unlikely that Palace will be any more keen to indulge that unusual request than Everton were.

There are other routes Palace could go down. Steven Gerrard experienced disappointment at Aston Villa but made history at Rangers. Ralph Hasenhuttl’s luck ran out at Southampton, but he did a solid job for much of his tenure. Ultimately though, are any of these candidates really more appealing than Vieira?

The former Arsenal midfielder had impressed at Selhurst Park, especially early on. Roy Hodgson had offered stoic stability, but the young, exciting Vieira seemed to point to a second phase for Palace. After eight years in the top tier, the club looked ready to swap merely existing for an attempt to excel. 

Last season’s 12th place promised much. But now Vieira has left with the club in the same place, both literally and figuratively. The former Nice head coach has done a passable job at a club where doing a passable job is no longer enough. Now it is up to someone else to arrest the slide as middling performances have given way to outright mediocrity. Whether it is a wily specialist like Allardyce or a fresher face like Marsch, Palace need something different and they need it now.

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