The EPL theory of expecting a sack announcement immediately after the manager or a club’s representative comes out with a story of a ‘harmonious relationship and unwavering commitment’ is still intact, apparently. Frank De Boer becomes the first Premier League manager to be fired this season as Crystal Palace decided they have had enough, days after the manager said he is in constant talks with chairman, Steve Parish, and the club is in total support of his long term ambitions.
Speaking of long term, you ever only hear it when things, in the immediate, are not going well for the manager involved; and Frank has had it tough, a situation which makes his sack understandable despite claims of critics that he should have been given more time.
In his four league games in charge of C’Palace— against Huddersfield, Liverpool, Swansea and Burnley, he didn’t only fail to get a win/draw, the team could not record a goal — earning the club an unwanted record of having the poorest league start in 93 years. Not even Derby County, in its incredibly poor Premier League stint in 2008 that saw the club finish with a meager 11 points and bagged relegation in March, had such an abysmal start; they scored four goals in their first four games.
While the argument for faith and more time given the situation of the club before he took over speaks to the heart, it should be noted that faith requires fuel to run on and frankly speaking, De Boer provided none. His ambition to transform the team into a free-flowing, passing side, a deviation from the typical long-ball approach, has come too rapidly and has seen the players look genuinely confused in a rather undefined strategy that features formation swap right in the middle of games.
Frank’s recent history at Inter Milan, where he lasted 85 days, didn’t help either as it definitely played on the board’s mind before his appointment.
Demands at clubs like Crystal Palace are usually not high. Winning the league or qualifying for major tournaments in Europe is out of the question, but so is losing to club like Huddersfield and failing to score in 360 minutes of football action. Irrespective of how low it is, a bar still exists and De Boer strayed too far from it.
The English Premier League is an unforgiving competition where things take shape quickly. As seen in previous seasons, being locked in a relegation fight from the onset has a way of dictating the affairs of the remainder of the season, and limiting expectations to at most, a place above 17th position.
In the end, Steve Parish had to make a decision between standing by a manager who appears to be sticking to his guns even though results [at his previous club and] in the first set of games are not forthcoming, and moving quickly to salvage things before they grow worse and far too deep to be remedied.
For a club that barely escaped relegation for stubbornly sticking with an equally ambitious Alan Pardew who repeatedly argued that club was in a “false position” despite consistent woeful results and a permanent spot at the foot of the table, the choice is hardly complicated. It was a matter of once bitten, twice shy.
They had to be frank with Frank.
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