Sam Allardyce tells Crystal Palace he wants out
Jermain Defoe close to joining Bournemouth on what could amount to a three-year deal
Crystal Palace manager Sam Allardyceat Old Trafford on Sunday. Photograph: Reuters
Crystal Palace are looking for their eighth manager in seven years after Sam Allardyce shocked the chairman, Steve Parish, by informing him of his intention to resign in a meeting at the club’s central London office on Tuesday.
Allardyce signed a two-and-a-half-year contract at Selhurst Park just before Christmas, charged with steering the club to a fifth successive season in the topflight.
That was eventually achieved with a 14th place finish, and eye-catching wins over Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool en route, only for the 62-year-old to tender his resignation just five months into the role and two days after the side’s last game of term. He was due a bonus of around £2m for keeping the club in the Premier League, with Palace having eventually finished seven points clear of the cut-off.
Yet, while the talks this afternoon between Parish and Allardyce are said to have been “amicable”, Palace had certainly not anticipated losing the manager’s services given how well things had gone under his stewardship, and with plans well underway for a revamp of the playing squad this summer.
Some senior players have already been informed they will either not be retained or are available to move, with the meeting in Parish’s Soho office having initially been scheduled to discuss transfer budgets and recruitment plans. Instead, they concluded with Palace braced to be without a manager yet again.
The club have now been in left in a familiar state of flux, with players unsure where their futures lie and any attempts to persuade Allardyce to remain in south London likely to be knocked back. Sources close to the former Bolton and England manager have suggested he made a decision over the weekend having felt he had successfully rehabilitated his reputation after his humiliating exit from the national set-up after only 67 days and one match in charge last autumn.
The implication is he wished to go out on a high, with the upturn he instigated at Selhurst Park effectively having exceeded expectations, and, while he may not formally retire, he will not be actively seeking a return to management.
That would feel surprising given the enthusiasm he had displayed with Palace over recent weeks, and there had certainly been no hint of a desire to curtail a coaching career which has spanned 26 years and spells at six Premier League clubs.
Only last week he made clear the cleansing effect his return to top-flight management had achieved. “The ride at Palace has been great,” he said. “It’s enabled me to totally get over the England scenario. I feel recovered and I’m looking to the future.”
Indeed, Allardyce had hoped to attack the summer transfer window with gusto, earmarking up to 10 new players with the intention of ensuring Palace would not be sucked into another relegation scrap next term. One of those, Jermain Defoe, is close to joining Bournemouth on what could amount to a three-year deal worth around £65,000-a-week and a hefty signing on bonus.
Palace will have to be shrewd in the market this summer having spent heavily in January as they sought to edge clear of the foot. The likes of Luka Milivojevic, Patrick van Aanholt and Jeffrey Schlupp were brought in for an outlay of around £40m, on hefty wages, with Mamadou Sakho also recruited on loan from Liverpool. While Parish had still aspired to recruit the France defender on a permanent basis, that mid-season spending could yet influence the club’s policy over the summer as they seek to comply with financial fair play regulations within the Premier League.
Some players, including the Wales international Joe Ledley, are out of contract and will leave, while the likes of Fraizer Campbell, Bakary Sako, Lee Chung-yong are all expected to depart. The futures of James McArthur and Scott Dann, who began last season as club captain, are also uncertain, but Allardyce – whose wife, Lynne, was living in the family home in Bolton while he rented a flat near Tower Bridge over his time at Palace – had been seeking to instigate that overhaul of the playing staff.
Allardyce had succeeded Alan Pardew at Selhurst Park with the team languishing in 17th place after one win in 11 matches, with his first game the St Stephen’s day draw at Watford. Palace have yet to comment on the managerial situation – Parish had taken to social media earlier this week suggesting the club would be targeting a top 10 finish next season – but a statement is anticipated later this evening.
The scenario boasts parallels with Tony Pulis’ abrupt departure following a successful eight-month tenure which secured unlikely survival in 2014, albeit he had walked out on the eve of the new campaign.
The Palace hierarchy would have more time now to secure a successor but, as Bournemouth’s move for Defoe has demonstrated, rival clubs are already making moves in the transfer market as they plan for next season.