Crystal Palace must end indecision and take risk on Pulis

There can be no denying Steve Parish is a nice bloke with a lovely head of hair, but what exactly has his strategy been as Crystal Palace chairman these past 29 days? It’s been a lot messier than his sweeping quiff, that’s for sure.

Indecisiveness has filled the south London air. Aitor Karanka, Alan Pardew, Chris Coleman, Tony Pulis, Mick McCarthy, Iain Dowie, Sean Dyche, Malky Mackay and Dan Petrescu have all been considered by the Eagles hierachy.

Old school, up and coming, foreign, British, promise, proven, pretty passing, long ball, disciplined, relaxed. They’ve certainly covered all bases. But what they got in in common? Hardly anything. It’s crystal clear that Parish doesn’t really know what he wants.

Except that is a ‘sporting director’ called Iain Moody. A terrific chap by all accounts, widely praised for recognising (the not at all obvious fact) that international footballers like Steven Caulker and Gary Medel could improve Cardiff City. Unjustly released by Vincent Tan, and suddenly back page news, Moody was snapped up in an instant by a chairman embarrassed by his own haphazard transfer strategy last summer.

All I’ll say on that is this; what if the new boss - whenever they get around to appointing him - takes a look at the former writer, agent, press officer, operations manager, head of recruitment, sporting director’s CV and says no, I’d rather work with someone else or nobody at all thank you very much?

Surely the first team manager’s methods and requirements should be given priority. If Parish loses his first-choice boss because of that hurried, unnecessary appointment it will be pure madness. These days it’s vital to have a clear footballing vision and a philosophy. If you don’t, you risk squandering millions leaping from one stone to the next, often going sideways and backwards.

Swansea City are a fine example of what can be achieved with continuity of style, and by employing players and managers that suit what they want. This type of distinct strategy is better for players as well. If you’re a quality passer you look for that kind of club, if it’s running the channels that you specialise in, you go elsewhere.

For professional footballers, there’s very little more frustrating than uprooting your family from one end of the country, or even another country, to join a club because that manager likes you and admires your style of play, only to see that boss replaced by a newcomer who perceives football and you in a completely different manner. It’s a waste of everybody’s time.

If a player signs for a club that suits his play, knowing they’ll stick with that formula even when a change is made in the dug-out, it provides assurance and stability. As a collective, even when there’s uncertainty there’s still the certainty that football-wise everything won’t get turned upside down overnight. Those in charge of the youth academies can plan for the long term when identifying talent too.

While I’m no fan of the football Tony Pulis preaches, at least he has a philosophy that he sticks with. So, if as expected Palace name him as the man to succeed Ian Holloway this week, they must commit to that style for the long term – otherwise what’s the point?

He will sell most of his squad, and replace them with square footballers who fit into his square-holed formula. Whenever he leaves, by his choice or not, wouldn’t it make sense for Parish to employ a replacement that won’t rip that all up and start again? It makes logical and business sense to persist with the same style.

Palace, unlike their neatly quaffed chairman, look like they’ve been pulled through a hedge backwards, but in Pulis they should have the right man to straighten them out. Even if they don’t look as pretty from now on.


Crystal Palace take on Hull this weekend as they look to build on their draw with Everton - check the latest odds.

Read more from Unibet columnist Adrian Clarke every Thursday.