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Why didn't Crystal Palace wait?

Thursday 28th September 2017
The current Premier League season is seeing some of the best football played for some years in England with a number of sides setting the standard early on. However, there are a group of teams that are already looking like favourites to go down after a tough start. 

The likes of Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea look very good and, between the three of them, have only tasted defeat once, with Chelsea slow off the line having been beaten 3-2 by Burnley on the opening day.

This form has transferred onto the European stage too, with the three currently boasting 100% win rates in the Champions League. While it is still early, it seems as though the Premier League may be on the cusp of finally challenging in the latter stages of Europe's premier competition again.

However, at the opposite end of the footballing spectrum are a number of sides that are really struggling. Of those, Crystal Palace seem in the most imminent of danger. No points from their opening six games see them already four points from safety, while they have taken the unenviable award of being the first team to fail to score in their opening six games.

Their struggles began under the tenure of Frank de Boer. While it was a very short stint with the London side, those at the top of Palace clearly deemed it necessary to dispense of his services after just four games. How anyone can decide that a manager must be changed after just over 10% of the season is incredible, and Palace haven't covered themselves in glory with his sacking.

Since then, former-England manager Roy Hodgson was installed in de Boer's place, and he has tasted two defeats in his opening two games, with a hammering from Manchester City the lastest of those.

While Hodgson will benefit from having as much time with the London side as possible as he looks to turn their fortunes around, the timing of de Boer's sacking must be questioned.

Hodgson has already faced top side Manchester City during his short reign, while his next two assignments will see him take on second-placed Manchester United and third-placed Chelsea. While Hodgson will maintain that Palace should aim to take points off every team, he has been thrown in at the deep end and it was ridiculously short-sighted by those above him.
If Palace's hierarchy knew that de Booer was not the right man, why fire him before this run of three of the most difficult games? By installing Hodgson for the three, any good-feeling following his introduction as manager will quickly disappear and be replaced by a similar discontent that was growing under de Boer. The people that chose to fire de Boer must have been itching to get rid of him then.

Had the Dutchman been allowed to stay, the worst he would have achieved is a similar record to the one Hodgson is likely to attain as he looks to begin the slow process of turning the team around over the course of the season. The best case scenario would have seen Palace break their duck and build some momentum and, if he was still deemed surplus to requirements, they could have sacked him then and brought Hodgson in to start with an easier run.

While it sounds incredibly harsh and underhanded, this probably would have helped Palace and Hodgson massively. As it is, Palace are likely to finish their current run with no points which will see pressure on the new manager mount, culminating in a similar situation to that of de Booers. Really, it seems as though Palace have just cut off their nose to spite their own face.
Ben Darvill

I graduated with an upper second class degree in English and Creative writing from Cardiff Metropolitan University. I have been a freelance sports writer since leaving University and have written for a number of online websites. I am a Chelsea and England fan but I enjoy watching any team play as I have an intense passion for football.

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