Ian Holloway obviously thought he had very little chance of keeping Palace in the league and I tend to agree. They look doomed.
As a newly promoted club – and massive favourites to go straight back down - you have to be astute in all your dealings and they simply haven’t been. At the top of the list is recruitment and they have just not got that right.
They prioritised quantity over quality. Instead of signing four or five that could have improved the quality their starting XI, they tried to sign everybody who was available.
Of the 16 players they signed two didn’t make the Premier League squad, which is not only a huge waste of money but a damning indictment of a policy that lacked any form of clarity. They panic bought at the end of deadline day – it just smacked of desperation.
Their main big-money signing was the wet-behind-the-ears Dwight Gayle, who has played less than 30 games at Championship level. Arguably they had a better squad in the Championship. They had Wilfried Zaha and had Glenn Murray firing on all cylinders and Holloway has alluded to that.
I cannot seeing this squad being good enough to stay up nor can I see Palace willing to spend again in January – they are all-but certain to go down.
Credit to Palace, they were underdogs in the semi-finals and final of the play-offs and did extremely well to get to the Premier League. A group of honest, experienced professionals mixed with some great youthful exuberance got them there – so the decision to sign so liberally will have split the camp overnight.
Comparisons can be drawn with what happened at QPR last season.
I can’t see any other outcome other than relegation – and I am not sure that they will be able to rectify those mistakes as quickly as QPR are managing to do. Given their desperation, there will be some players on contracts without release or relegation clauses, and this could have a damning long-term impact on the club. This is going to cost them a lot of money because those 16 players will not have come cheaply.
Alongside the poor recruitment policy, Holloway himself has been part of the problem. He is a volatile character, which means that sometimes he doesn’t allow the team to settle. Against Liverpool for example, he started attack-minded and at half-time he made two substitutions – they were on their way to losing that game, anyway.
However, even in a loss, you can still work on things and become a better team but he was chopping and changing too much - making rash decisions. The team got no better from the changes. He had to settle on a starting XI and needed to work with them to mould them into a solid Premier League side. Changes from game-to-game do not help teams at the bottom.
Holloway could have done with some help – prior to the Premier League you would have a squad of 16 to 20 players max and it was easier to manager and coach but with squads now anywhere up to 40 players you have to delegate and that appears to have been a weakness with Palace.
He has admitted himself that he was fatigued and you could see that in the last couple of games. He looked lost on the bench and didn’t know what to do.
Tony Pulis and Neil Warnock have been put forward as a replacements but the club needs to decide on what they are hoping to achieve? Realistically they will not stay up this season so they should be looking to appoint someone for the long term – they need to look three or four years into the future.
Pulis and Warnock will in all likelihood change the style of play. Will they make a great deal of difference? Unlikely. They need to build for the future. A lot of thought needs to go in to this.
The new man has to deal with the legacy of a poor recruitment policy over the summer and needs to refind their togetherness and spirit - but that takes time.
Palace’s next appointment needs to be the right one.