Sam Allardyce has been appointed Crystal Palace manager and will take charge of their Premier League game away to Watford on Boxing Day.
The former England manager swiftly agreed a two-and-a-half year deal – without a break clause – to succeed Alan Pardew after talks with Palace chairman Steve Parish at the club’s training ground on Friday afternoon.
Despite suggestions that Palace’s American investors – led by Josh Harris and David Blitzer – had forced Pardew out after a dismal run of form, it was Parish who made the final decision because he accepted the growing fears of relegation. However, the Americans certainly voiced their concerns.
Palace reasoned that they would give themselves a far better chance of survival if they appointed Allardyce who has never suffered a relegation and would change the team’s style of play to make it more pragmatic and organised.
Allardyce will meet the players and take training on Christmas Eve before the first match at Vicarage Road on Boxing Day. His contract is heavily-incentivised towards a significant bonus should Palace avoid relegation – which has been interpreted as a clear sign that he believes he will keep them up.
Such has been the speed of the talks that any additions to Palace’s backroom staff have yet to be agreed although it would appear likely that Allardyce will consider offering a role to Sammy Lee, who was his assistant with England and previously Bolton Wanderers and is currently out of work.
Allardyce will also be given funds to improve the Palace squad when the January transfer window opens but, contrary to reports, he has not been in dialogue with the club’s owners in recent weeks and did not submit a detailed dossier on the current squad.
Rather, Palace were aware of Allardyce’s availability, following his departure from the England job after just 67 days in charge after revelations in The Daily Telegraph, and that he wanted to make a swift return to work.
There is also confusion at the club over claims that Pardew had ignored information on player analytics allegedly made available to him by the American co-owners who are heavily involved in sports such as NBA. This was not the case.
Pardew earned a reprieve at the beginning of December with the 3-0 home win over Southampton but since then has drawn at Hull City and lost at home to Manchester United and Chelsea, leaving Palace in 17th and just one point above the relegation zone. Had Palace lost to Southampton, Allardyce would have been offered the job then.
Pardew and Palace had agreed to a shift of style this season with the team playing more open, attacking football and with the ambition of securing a comfortable top-10 finish. Signings such as Christian Benteke, Andros Townsend and goalkeeper Steve Mandanda were intended to take Palace to a new level.
However, so far, that has not worked and it was decided that Pardew would be unwilling to compromise on his attacking play and that a firefighter such as Allardyce would therefore give Palace a far greater chance of survival.
Keith Millen, Pardew’s assistant and a long-time member of Palace’s backroom staff, who has been caretaker manager himself in the past, conducted the pre-match press conference ahead of the Watford game.
It took place before Allardyce’s appointment was confirmed, but Millen said: “He’s an experienced Premier League manager. He’s been successful, he knows the game, he knows how to set his teams up. He did a great job at Sunderland keeping them up.” Millen hailed the 62-year-old as someone who will “sort the players out”.
The players trained with Millen on Friday with the coach admitting that Pardew has been left “upset and disappointed” by his sacking. It is understood Pardew maintained he could get Palace out of their current predicament and that the decision to sack him was hasty, despite the terrible run of form with one win in 11 league matches and the team having endured a poor 2016.
English Premier League
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