Crystal Palace are interested in appointing Rafael Benitez as Roy Hodgson’s successor at Selhurst Park, and the south London outfit should do all they can to persuade the Spaniard to take charge.
Hodgson announced his imminent exit from the Eagles dugout earlier in the week after four successful seasons with the capital club, and who Steve Parish picks to replace the former England boss is guaranteed to have a huge impact over their immediate prospects.
The former England boss guided Palace to Premier League safety with ease throughout his tenure, finishing as high as 11th in 2017/18, but there was a growing feeling that the 73-year-old had taken them as far as he could.
Now that Hodgson’s departure has been confirmed, talk has turned to who could possibly take over the reins, with several big names such as Frank Lampard, Eddie Howe and Scott Parker linked with the soon-to-be-vacant role.
However, according to the Daily Record, the Palace hierarchy are also keen to explore the possibility of appointing Benitez as the ex-Real Madrid, Inter and Chelsea boss looks for his next management position.
The 61-year-old Spanish manager made history by ending Valencia’s 31-year wait for a La Liga crown back in 2002 and arguably went one better three years later, guiding Liverpool to the most dramatic Champions League victory in the competition’s history in Istanbul.
With all due respect to Palace, it’s not often that a club of their stature has the opportunity to appoint a head coach of Benitez’s calibre and quality, and it would be a masterstroke if Parish could pull this off.
It’s set to be a turbulent summer at Selhurst Park, with over a dozen players approaching the end of their current contracts, meaning an experienced head is more suited to the job a hand. And Parish admitted the task of finding the right man to replace Hodgson is a daunting one.
“I don’t think we should underestimate the size of the challenge. We can see with teams that have been promoted already, we have a quality league next year, but equally, it is a fantastic opportunity for somebody.
“This is a London club, and it is an exciting time to be around it, the academy is developing, and the catchment area for talent we know is outstanding. The staff are amazing, and we have now pursued plans for a new main stand with vigour through this difficult time,” he added in an interview with Sky Sports.
“It’s daunting, but we have been through this before. We are in better shape than ever before as a club to make this transition, that isn’t to say it doesn’t come with pitfalls and dangers.”
Hiring a young, forward-thinking boss who plays attractive football may please many Palace fans and football romantics, but in reality, now may not bethe time for that in south London. The Eagles are approaching a crossroads, and with so much upheaval in the playing squad set to occur over the summer, they need an experienced leader to guide them through.
Benitez has won 12 major honors throughout his managerial career, and steering Palace successfully through this transitional period would be another significant success story.