Seven years ago, when he last rolled up at Selhurst Park, Neil Warnock declared it would be his last job in football. There are many Palace fans, and Jason Puncheon, who today will be wishing that it was.
At an age when most people are looking towards settling down in their slippers in an armchair, or with a cushty place on the TV pundits’ sofa, 65-year-old Warnock was today named as the Palace boss.
In a sign of the times, Warnock’s appointment was officially announced first on the Twitter feed of Neteller, the club sponsor. “Before criticism comes the way of #cpfc comms team, the decision to have Neteller release before the club’s own website is out of our hands,” one of the Selhurst Park staff tweeted.
Warnock replaces Tony Pulis, the Manager of the Year, who left Palace on the eve of the season when no agreement could be reached over his role in the club’s transfer business while Iain Moody was the club’s director of football. The somewhat discredited Moody has now left the club.
It would appear that Warnock was decidedly second choice, or even fourth or fifth choice, after Malky Mackay (see Moody, above), Tim Sherwood and even Pulis all over again. Steve Clarke, the former West Brom manager and Scotland international defender, was understood to be the club’s preferred choice until talks broke down this morning.
In a 34-year managerial career which began at Northern League club Gainsborough Trinity, this will be Warnock’s 14th appointment (cue jokes about more clubs than Jack Nicklaus, copyright Tommy Docherty c 1968).
Most recently, Warnock has been out of work for 16 months, after leaving Leeds when they were struggling towards the foot of the Championship last year. During his time at Leeds, Warnock continued to live in his family’s home in the West Country. Warnock’s last job in the Premier League was with QPR, when they were struggling in 17th place in the division in 2012.
Such has been the turmoil at the club in the past fortnight that the optimists at Five-Year Plan fanzine renamed their Twitter account first “One-Year Plan” and then “No-Year Plan”. The underwhelming response to the news that club co-chairman Steve Parish had gone for Warnock was reflected by the fanzine this afternoon, when they noted, “While Warnock is very experienced, his CV isn’t filled with top-flight experience (one season with Sheffield United and half a season with QPR in the past 10 years) – allegedly the main criteria throughout this management search according to Parish”.
That can hardly be described as a ringing endorsement.
Warnock has signed a two-year deal at Selhurst. He arrives with just four days left until the transfer window closes; it had been thought that Mackay might have had a transfer fund of more than £20 million had his ill-fated appointment gone through.
A statement eventually appeared on Palace’s website saying: “Crystal Palace are delighted to announce that Neil Warnock has been appointed as their new first team manager with immediate effect. Neil has agreed a two-year deal and will lead the team this Saturday in our Premier League game at Newcastle United.”
The fans’ antipathy towards Warnock has much to do with their former manager’s previous departure, opting to cross London to Loftus Road when Palace were suffering serious financial problems, going in into administration and suffering a 10-point penalty. The club dropped from Championship play-off contenders to a battle against relegation, which they narrowly avoided.
The fans also have justifiable reservations about Warnock’s usual, direct playing style, as well as his record in the top tier.
Tomorrow morning’s first training session might be worth seeing, if for nothing else than the meeting between Warnock and Puncheon. The former Southampton winger had a loan spell at QPR under Warnock, and last season he reacted angrily to comments made by Warnock, as a radio pundit, when he missed a penalty for Palace in the game at Tottenham.
Puncheon was fined £15,000 by the FA for his comments, which included some serious allegations but were promptly removed from the social media network. They can still be found elsewhere…
Palace won their League Cup second-round tie at Walsall last night, 3-0, thanks to a hat-trick from Dwight Gayle, the striker who has otherwise struggled to hold down a place in Palace’s first team.
Under caretaker manager Keith Millen, Palace have lost their opening two league matches, 2-1 at Arsenal and 3-1 at home to West Ham. So, Palace have no points, putting them just a single point behind Manchester United…
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Coming to Croydon
- Festival of books, Central Library, Aug 27-30
- David Lean Cinema: Frank, Aug 28
- Upper Norwood Library well-being groups, Aug 30
- Fund-raising walkabout at Beddington Farmlands, Aug 30
- David Lean Cinema: The Two Faces of January, Sep 4
- David Lean Cinema: Fading Giglolo, Sep 6
- Thornton Heath Festival, Sep 7
- Stop the Incinerator Quiz Night, Sep 8
- David Lean Cinema: Camille Claudel, Sep 11
- Warlingham rugby dinner with international Richard Hill, Sep 12
- Soul Symphony Community Choir sessions, Sep 16-Dec 23
- Norwood Society Talk: War Memorials, Sep 18
- David Lean Cinema: Chef, Sep 18
- Cinema Ruskin film show, Sep 20
- South Croydon business breakfast, Sep 20
- Open House London weekend, Sep 20-21
- David Lean Cinema: A Night At The Cinema in 1914, Sep 22
- Activity to Work back-to-work workshops, Sep 23
- David Lean Cinema: Jimmy’s Hall, Sep 25
- Streatham Common 6M race, Sep 27
- Fancy dress family funday, Sep 28
- Norwood Society Talk: From Fire Station to Theatre, Oct 16
- Cinema Ruskin film show, Oct 18
- South Croydon business breakfast, Oct 18
- South Croydon business breakfast, Nov 15
- Norwood Society Talk: Lambeth’s Archives, Nov 20
- South Croydon business breakfast, Dec 13
- South Croydon business breakfast, Jan 24
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