What could possibly go wrong? Crystal Palace have agreed a three-year appointment for their new manager, and just need the government to issue a work permit…
There was palpable excitement among Eagles fans last night when the news emerged that a deal had been done to appoint Lucien Favre, the former Borussia Dortmund manager, as successor to Roy Hodgson.
In a near-30-year managerial career, Swiss-born Favre, 63, has had jobs at Servette and Zürich, Hertha Berlin, Borussia Mönchengladbach and Nice. Favre is a former Swiss international midfield playmaker whose playing days were curtailed after a nasty knee injury. He has been out of work since being sacked by Dortmund in December.
His CV shows someone who is able to take unpromising or underperforming clubs and move them up a level with impressive speed.
He took Nice to third place in Ligue 1 and Champions League football. He saved Mönchengladbach from relegation and then finished fourth in his first full Bundesliga season. At Dortmund, he went 15 matches unbeaten at the start of his tenure and twice finished second behind dominant Bayern Munich.
Favre’s work at Dortmund included helping to nurture the talents of Jadon Sancho, Jude Bellingham and Erling Haaland to the point where they have become among the hottest playing properties in European football.
He is regarded as a manager who works on defensive strength, attacking verve and midfield creativity and who is happy to work with young players – Palace have a particularly promising group of under-18 players – and seeks to enhance senior players, too. The idea that Favre is capable of developing talent, rather than having to go out and buy it, was particularly attractive to Palace, where budgets are always tight.
And what’s more, Favre has expressed an ambition of following Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel in managing a club in the Premier League.
“The only thing that matters in the end is that we win football matches,” Palace chairman Steve Parish told the BBC earlier this month, before agreeing terms with Favre.
“We have to find the right person to help us do that. Not only immediately, but someone will also help us with the young players we want to bring through.”
The word from Selhurst Park is that they hope to secure Favre’s work permit speedily in order to formalise the appointment as soon as possible.
The new boss has his work cut out, inheriting the oldest squad in the Premier League, and with 13 players whose contracts all expire on June 30:
Patrick van Aanholt
Andros Townsend (who’s been making impressive appearances as a BBC pundit during Euro 2020)
Stephen Henderson and
Christian Benteke has agreed a new deal; those still awaiting a decision on their future have been told that the new manager will make all the calls.
According to sports website The Athletic, who broke the Favre story last night, Palace were “craving a manager with Premier League experience”, following the debacle over the apparently prestige appointment four years ago of Frank de Boer (whatever happened to him?).
The Athletic reports that, after a series of Zoom interviews, Parish flew to the Cote d’Azur last week to meet Favre face to face. “They parted intent on concluding the formalities, with further Zoom meetings scheduled to discuss the considerable team rebuild ahead – far from an easy process given the level of funding available and the number of new bodies required.”
Palace’s players – whoever is left – are due to return for testing at the end of next week with the first day of pre-season training on July 5.
Favre’s appointment process is complicated by covid-19 quarantine requirements, and that work permit. “While that may be a formality,” the website reports, “it has the propensity to drag.”
Things could be worse: it could be Tottenham, with Daniel Levy in charge…
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