Crystal Palace have become the latest Premier League club to have sacked their manager this season, Patrick Vieira has lost his job with the South London club which has seen his team fail to win their last 12 matches, dragging them into the relegation battle.
They are still three points and six places off the bottom three, but the club has decided that now is the time to act before things get any more serious.
Palace are due to face league leaders Arsenal – where Vieira is still idolised for his exploits as a player – on Sunday, and there is likely to be somebody in temporary charge of the team for that fixture.
After that, though, they have the international break which will afford them the luxury of two weeks in order to appoint somebody on a permanent basis. Whoever that is will have one overriding priority, and that is to preserve their Premier League status.
When Vieira took the job in 2021 following the retirement of Roy Hodgson, he was initially regarded than the pragmatic fare often offered up under Hodgson.
They finished 12th in his first season, and there were hopes that they could consolidate on that in the current campaign.
However, after a reasonable start, the club have really struggled since the World Cup, and are now the only professional team in England not to have won in this calendar year.
Five points from a possible 33 from their last eleven games means they have been dragged into a fight of which they want no part.
Scoring goals has become a major problem for them. They have scored just 21 goals in 27 games, and, before the midweek defeat to Brighton in the A23 derby, Palace had gone three games without even registering a shot on target.
They are hard to beat, but the attractive style of football of last season had deserted them completely.
Premier League merry go-round continues
Vieira is now the ninth Premier League manager this season to lose his job, with clubs increasingly ready to pull the trigger when clubs find themselves at the wrong end of the table. Palace will feel that making the change now, gives them the opportunity to find somebody who can steer them away from the trouble, and they will also be hoping for the famous “new manager” bounce which will see them accrue some quick points.
But, whoever does take the job will have to make do with the existing Palace squad, without the luxury of a transfer window to improve it.
However, it is no guarantee of success. All of the current bottom three teams – Southampton, Leeds United and Bournemouth – have already changed their manager this season (in the case of The Saints twice), and yet they remain in the relegation mire.
This may not be the end of the blood-letting this season either. Both David Moyes at West Ham and Brendan Rodgers are looking over their shoulders and may be anticipating the international break with some trepidation.
That is when chairmen and directors with too much time on their hands often decide it is the right time to make a change.
Great players do not always make great managers
Vieira is the latest example of the adage that great players do not always make great managers. A World Cup winner with France, who was the captain of the Arsenal Invincible team, he went on to achieve great success later in his career in Italy, winning league titles with Juventus and Inter Milan, before returning to the Premier League with Manchester City.
His managerial career so far has been modest. He spent two years in the MLS with New York City FC, before he was appointed by Ligue 1 side Nice. But he lasted less than 18 months with them, before he was sacked after a run of five losses, with the team knocked-out of the group stage of the Europa League.
The job with Palace was meant to be a fresh opportunity for him, but it has ultimately ended in failure. Like Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard before him, he has found it difficult to get his ideas and philosophy over to players, many of whom are not as gifted as he was in his pomp.
Carlo Ancelotti and Pep Guardiola are two exceptions to this rule, so it is not inevitable. And Vieira could yet be successful somewhere else in the future.
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