Crystal Palace could appoint their perfect manager this summer in the shape of Rafael Benitez, as the search for Roy Hodgson’s successor continues.
What’s the story?
The 73-year-old departed Selhurst Park after last season’s conclusion following four relatively successful years in south London, but his replacement is yet to arrive.
It seemed as though former Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo was set to fill the vacant Palace hot seat until a last-minute U-turn, leaving the club’s hierarchy back at square one.
Palace’s perfect manager
Whoever takes over the reins at Palace will be faced with a daunting task. A major squad overhaul is required, and the absence of Eberechi Eze and Nathan Ferguson until the new year through injury will only complicate matters further.
An experienced head, therefore, seems the logical route to go down.
Several potentially exciting managerial prospects have been linked with the capital club, including Steve Cooper, Frank Lampard and Valerien Ismael, although the job at hand may be too much for those prospects to handle given their relative inexperience.
On the other hand, someone else who has been linked with the job, and someone who has been there and seen it all before is Benitez. The ex-Liverpool and Newcastle United man has taken charge of 340 Premier League games throughout his career, achieving a very respectable 49% win rate.
During his time at St.James’ Park, the Spaniard showcased his ability to extract results and performances far beyond the sum of his parts.
It’s a skill that will be required for any prospective Palace boss as they attempt to guide the Eagles to top-flight safety next season while working on a shoestring budget.
Key players such as Gary Cahill, Patrick van Aanholt and James McArthur may be allowed to walk out the exit door as the south London outfit enters a new chapter, but replacing them with similar quality stars will be a tricky assignment.
While bringing in a younger, more attack-minded manager may bring more excitement to the club’s supporters, pragmatism and experience are what is needed at this moment in time to steady a very rocky ship.
Under the 61-year-old Benitez, Palace would likely come out the other side of this transitional period with their Premier League status intact, and their playing squad revitalised, leaving the perfect foundation for a more ambitious tactician to take over further down the line.