Graham Potter, who was sacked as Chelsea manager last month after the lowest points-per-game return of any coach at the club in the Premier League era, is reportedly being considered to become the new boss at Crystal Palace.
As poor as his record at Chelsea during his brief spell in charge at Stamford Bridge was, what might prove to be of greater concern to Eagles fans is that Potter was previously the manager at arch-rivals Brighton.
The draw with Nottingham Forest at Selhurst Park on Sunday was Palace’s last game in a prolonged Premier League season in which they finished 11th, one place above Chelsea.
Interviewed after the game, veteran manager Roy Hodgson refused to be drawn on whether he would be in charge of first-team affairs next season.
“Before I start talking about whether I want to stay anywhere or take on any jobs, someone better offer me one,” the 75-year-old said, clearly leaving the door open for chairman Steve Parish to make such an offer.
Hodgson returned for his second spell in charge at Crystal Palace two months ago, and oversaw the side play attractive, attacking football, winning five and losing just two of their 10 games in his charge.
The bookmakers, who rarely get these matters wrong, have former England manager Hodgson as 8/11 on to be Palace’s manager next season, with Potter 4/1 second favourite.
Other possibles include Brendan Rodgers, sacked by doomed Leicester, Ralph Hasenhuttl, sacked by doomed Southampton, and Michael Carrick, who has guided Middlesbrough to the verge of promotion from the Championship, but who lost out in the play-offs.
It seems unlikely that Palace fans would be unhappy with Hodgson staying on for one more season. His return has been rated as “an unmitigated success” by Alex Pewter, from fanzine podcast Five Year Plan.
“The upturn in player performances has left the club in a much stronger position regarding transfer value, let alone the final points tally,” Pewter said.
“With dwindling managerial options for a long-term appointment, the ball is likely in Roy’s court should he wish to continue for another year.”
Phil Parry, BBC Radio London’s football reporter, reckons that Hodgson and star player Wilfried Zaha could both be back at Selhurst Park next season.
The 30-year-old Zaha’s contract expires at the end of June, with a £200,000 per week offer on the table for the finest product yet to emerge from its thriving academy.
The club’s love for the player, and his affection for Palace, was clear for all to see with the painting of a powerful mural of Zaha on the corner of Holmesdale Road, which was finished ahead of Sunday’s game.
“I think Wilf will stay and Roy will stay,” said radio reporter Parry.
“There may be some decisions to be made, but Roy clearly loves the club and understands the club’s DNA and culture.
“They feel reinvigorated and he’s been fully committed. Why would you not involve him?”
Zaha’s injured hamstring prevented him from being in Sunday’s matchday squad, but many thought it significant that he hung back when club stalwarts Luka Milivojevic and James McArthur, their contracts expiring, were given a send-off at the end of the game.
Where the likes of Potter fits into all of this is uncertain.
The 48-year-old was badly affected by his Chelsea experience, where a hugely bloated squad, including some players the coach had argued against being signed, and meddling American owners left him looking badly out of his depth.
But reports linking him to the Palace job emphasise the groundwork Potter had done while at Brighton, who have qualified for European football next season, for the first time in the club’s history.
Reports linking Potter to the Palace job first emerged on specialist FRench football websites late yesterday.
“Palace see Potter as an ideal candidate for their next step as a club and feel they can make the Englishman a convincing offer, including the chance to work with one of the best young squads in the Premier League,” The Independent website reported this afternoon.
Potter is also reported to be a target for Leeds, who were relegated to the Championship at the weekend.
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