Upon his shock departure from the club back in 2017, Sam Allardyce at least gave Crystal Palace some advice on who should replace him after his sudden exit from Selhurst Park – a nice gesture considering he could have just left south London with the club in the lurch.
The former England manager recommended Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder to Eagles supremo Steve Parish, a man who has vast experience in the Football League and had already worked wonders with the Blades in League One.
Previously, Palace had thrived under British managers, who seemed to resonate with the majority of the squad and get the best out of them.
A Crystal Palace fan shares his most gutting moment of the last 10 years supporting the Eagles in the video below…
The likes of Tony Pulis, Neil Warnock, Alan Pardew and Allardyce all arrived in SE25 and fared quite well, getting good results before ultimately taking the team as far as they could.
As a season ticket holder myself, Wilder’s no-nonsense approach but advanced attacking tactics – particularly in comparison to bosses such as Pulis – would have gone down well at Selhurst Park, in my honest opinion.
This was the only real opportunity the Eagles had had to truly make a considered, well thought-out appointment since their return to the top-flight.
Their previous hires had been as a result of Ian Holloway’s sudden departure, Pulis’ untimely resignation on the eve of the season, Warnock’s mid-season sacking as well as Pardew’s – Allardyce had commendably declared his intentions to leave early, and gave Palace an entire summer to find a replacement.
But no. Instead of opting for a lesser-known, not-so-fashionable but solid gaffer in Wilder, Parish opted to take a gamble on a glitzy European name in Frank de Boer.
The Dutchman had made his name in management with Ajax, winning four straight Eredivisie titles with the Dutch giants before joining another colossus of a club in Inter.
However, he failed miserably in Serie A. De Boer was sacked after just 85 days in charge at the San Siro in what was a truly miserable tenure in every sense of the word.
With his only accomplishments coming in Holland, a division that is vastly different to that of the Premier League, appointing De Boer was a huge risk and one that ultimately backfired.
Promotion to the Premier League
EFL Championship Manager of the Season
EFL Manager of the Season
LMA Championship Manager of the Year
LMA Manager of the Year
An absolute clean sweep of awards for Chris Wilder.
— bet365 (@bet365) May 14, 2019
The 49-year-old lasted even less time in the Selhurst Park dugout than he did at the San Siro, managing to survive for just 77 days before being given the chop – he didn’t even see his Palace side score a single league goal.
So, Parish and Palace had messed up their opportunity for stability, and were forced into a hurried appointment yet again: Roy Hodgson was hired on a two-year contract.
Since then, whilst they have stayed up comfortably in two successive seasons under the 71-year-old, the Palace fans have grown tired of Hodgson’s football and have called for him to leave at times throughout the campaign.
In stark contrast, Sheffield United fans seem to be absolutely loving life under Wilder.
The 51-year-old has just led them to a 2nd-place finish in the Championship to secure automatic promotion, where his incredibly inventive overlapping centre-back system has been a sight to behold – he also has the 4th best win percentage in England since 2015/16, behind only Jurgen Klopp, Mauricio Pochettino and Pep Guardiola.
Can we have Chris Wilder on every week? 🤣
— Match of the Day (@BBCMOTD) May 11, 2019
Straying away from the typical defensive minds of Warnock and Pulis, Wilder has his side playing some exquisite football. The Blades hit an impressive 78 goals this term, whilst conceding just 41, the joint-least in the Championship.
They are now back in the Premier League for the first time since 2007, where Wilder will finally face the side who ignored Allardyce’s recommendation to appoint him.
Meanwhile, Palace’s talismanic forward Wilfried Zaha has revealed he wants to leave Selhurst Park for Champions League football, and it would be a real hammer blow to the Eagles if the Ivorian gets his wish.
Interestingly, if he does leave, there is a very real chance that Wilder could finish above a toothless Palace side with his Blades; for those of you saying that’s unrealistic for a newly-promoted side, just take a look at Wolves.
It would be a truly embarrassing moment for Parish if the man he ignored when he was in League One led his team to finish above Palace, which is a very real possibility given how they usually fare without Zaha in the side; Palace hadn’t won without the 26-year-old for over two years before they beat Leicester without him this season.
They are well and truly in danger of being made to look foolish for ignoring Allardyce’s excellent recommendation.