As you’re no doubt aware by this point, Frank de Boer was sacked as the Crystal Palace manager recently. The move came with the club sitting in dead last in the EPL tables after four matches, having gone 0-0-4. And as we’ve already noted, there are reasons to be excited about Roy Hodgson, the one-time national team manager who’s taken over the club. But this has all happened extremely quickly, and now that the dust is settling a little bit, we have to ask: how predictable was this early-season sacking?
In two words, very predictable. Not to do a painful recap, but things have been about as disastrous as they possibly could have been thus far. Lest we forget, Crystal Palace opened the season losing 0-3 to Huddersfield, who, as one wound-salting post-match recap pointed out for us, were playing in the top flight for the first time since 1972. Add on another three losses, four goals conceded, and zero – zero! – goals scored, and you get the sort of start that earns you a sacking. A record of 0-0-4 with a -7 goal differential doesn’t make you wonder whether the sacking was predictable; it makes you wonder what took so long.
What’s interesting, however, is that there were those even outside of the sceptical Crystal Palace faithful who saw this coming even before the campaign began in calamity. A preseason preview of which EPL managers were likeliest to be shown the door listed De Boer as the odds-on favourite. Somewhat prophetically, the article declared, only time will tell if he can last longer in London that he did when he managed Inter Milan for a dreadful 85 days. As it turned out, he could not. De Boer looked decidedly more like the Serie A flop than the man who managed Ajax for six years with some degree of stability.
In some respects, however, the move may still seem somewhat premature to those more patient supporters. While it’s probably safe to say that no one was excited about the job De Boer was doing, he did at least help to negotiate the transfer of Mamadou Sakho – perhaps not the piece the club needs to start finding the net, but undoubtedly a quality addition. Indeed, following the near-record signing (second only to that of Christian Benteke, also from Liverpool), an analysis suggested that the move would placate some sections of the home support. So much for that idea! The attitude now will have to be one of gratitude for the acquisition of Sakho, and little more.
In time we’ll be able to better judge this quick but deeply understandable decision by the club’s management. For now, we can say that it was generally predictable, though still somewhat faster than many might have expected even with an 0-0-4 start. At any rate – here’s to better days ahead.