Pizza delivery riders in the Selhurst Park area had better get ready: Patrick Vieira could be coming to town.
Now, given the disappointments, twists and turns in previous news reports about the appointment of a manager to replace Roy Hodgson at Crystal Palace, the hot-off-the-press news linking the World Cup-winning former Arsenal midfielder to Selhurst Park needs to be handled with asbestos gloves.
If confirmed, it would still represent a stunning coup for Palace, and chairman Steve Parish.
Of course, hiring former international star players as the club’s manager has not always worked in the past, as Frank de Boer demonstrated so graphically before Hodgson spent four years of steadying the ship.
And Vieira’s early managerial career has hardly set the football world alight, with his old Manchester United rival, Roy Keane – with whom Vieira had the notorious pizza fight in the Old Trafford tunnel – making him the butt of his jokes among fellow Euro2020 TV pundits.
It is The Athletic which has this morning reported that Palace “are close” to appointing Vieira – that’s the same sports website that last week had Lucien Favre in the frame for the post until the Swiss pulled out less than 24 hours later.
Today, David Ornstein, The Athletic’s former BBC reporter, tweeted, “Agreement in principle reached but not signed yet. Work permit process for 45-year-old former Nice boss and Arsenal Invincible underway.”
Vieira had succeeded Favre as boss at Lige 1 club Nice, where after two and a half years in the job he was sacked last December after five successive defeats.
Palace fans will be waiting patiently for a puff of white smoke to go up before undertaking any more premature celebrations, in the certain knowledge that the contracts for a dozen players expires tomorrow, with whoever is in charge for the coming season having a restricted (by Premier League standards) budget.
Often a fiery presence on the pitch, Vieira is best known for making 279 Premier League appearances for Arsenal between 1996 and 2005, working closely in that time with widely admired coach Arsene Wenger.
He played in France’s 1998 World Cup-winning side which also won the Euros in 2000. He also won club honours with Internazionale and Manchester City, where the owners saw enough of his abilities as a coach that they placed him in charge of their football franchise in New York.
Today, The Athletic reports that Vieira will be resuming that coaching career in south London.
“After talks over the last 24 hours, all parties expect the move to be rubber-stamped today. The process of applying for a visa is underway in the hope that Vieira, whose previous managerial experience was gleaned at New York City and OGC Nice, will be able to oversee the first day of pre-season training on Monday.”
The website states that Vieira “is under no illusions over the size of the job he is taking on, but is relishing the challenge ahead”, with the squad in major need of an overhaul ahead of their ninth successive season in the Premier League.
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