Crystal Palace’s chaotic summer, 11 first-team exits and disastrous managerial search

Kacper Wilkins
Kacper Wilkins
11 Min Read


Eleven first-team stars have also now left the club, leaving the Eagles with barely enough players to field a starting XI, while they have failed miserably to replace Roy Hodgson

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When Roy Hodgson’s exit as Crystal Palace’s manager was confirmed on May 18, many expected his replacement to be in place a matter of days later.

Eddie Howe, the former Bournemouth boss, had long been tipped for the role, while Burnley’s Sean Dyche and ex-Chelsea manager Frank Lampard are known to have attracted interest from Eagles supremo Steve Parish.

But fast forward six weeks and the Premier League club are somewhat in a tricky situation, having so far failed to officially appoint Hodgson’s successor.

Eleven first-team stars have also now left the club after their contracts expired on June 30, leaving the Eagles with barely enough players to field a starting XI.

And while a managerial announcement is expected imminently, with Arsenal legend Patrick Vieira expected to take over the reins, it’s fair to say it’s been a summer of chaos at Selhurst Park.

So, what has exactly gone wrong? Mirror Sport takes a closer look…







Andros Townsend has seen his contract at Crystal Palace come to an end
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First-team chaos as 11 stars leave

Palace found themselves in an unlikely contract stand-off with a large portion of their first-team squad and have been unable to find a solution.

A whopping 11 players — nine of whom can be regarded as influential first-team members — have now left the club after their contracts expired at the end of June.

Amongst them are Mamadou Sakho, who is one of the biggest earners but has struggled to deliver in recent seasons, while fellow defenders Gary Cahill, Joel Ward, Nathaniel Clyne and Patrick van Aanholt have also seen their deals expire.

Goalkeepers Wayne Hennessey and Stephen Henderson — both of whom are behind Vicente Guaita and Jack Butland in the pecking order — have departed, as have midfielder James McCarthy and out-of-favour striker Connor Wickham.

Perhaps the most high-profile player of them all to leave is Andros Townsend, who has become a fans’ favourite following his arrival from Newcastle five years ago.

There is still a hope that some of these players can come to an agreement with the club, depending on the vision of the new manager.







Gary Cahill (R) impressed during his time at Palace
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But it’s no doubt a farcical situation that the club have found themselves in.

They currently have just 14 fit outfield players — Eberechi Eze and Nathan Ferguson are currently injured — but that includes inexperienced players including Jacob Montes and Jaroslaw Jach.

Indeed, Palace need to find a solution, and quick, if they are to avoid what could be a tough campaign in their ninth successive season in the Premier League.

Where do we start?

It was no surprise when Hodgson’s exit was confirmed in May. The former England boss should be applauded for the job he has done at Palace, retaining their top-flight status and getting the best out of the likes of Wilfried Zaha.

But the Eagles have become stale in recent seasons and a new direction is needed to take them forward.

The fact that Howe and Dyche have long been touted as potential Hodgson replacements suggested that the club would have a new boss in place in time to take charge of pre-season.






Roy Hodgson’s exit as Palace manager was confirmed in May

That hasn’t proved to be the case; and it’s been a pretty tough managerial search for Parish and sporting director Dougie Freedman.

A host of other familiar names have been linked with the job, including Lampard, Swansea’s Steve Cooper and highly-rated Valerian Ismael, who has now left Barnsley to join West Brom after Palace failed to step up their interest.

Ex-Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo, who was appointed as Tottenham’s boss on Wednesday, was on the brink of taking charge but talks collapsed.

Former Borussia Dortmund boss Lucien Favre then became the favourite and was reportedly close to signing a three-year deal, only for talks to break down at the last minute.

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Parish has been keen to bring in a manager with experience but, following a disastrous search, it now appears he has settled for Vieira.

The Frenchman, 45, currently working as an ITV pundit for the Euros, began his coaching career within Manchester City ’s setup, before heading to take charge of New York City FC in the MLS.

His last job saw him spend two seasons at the helm of OGC Nice and, while the Arsenal legend did well in his first season with the Ligue 1 club, he lost his job in December 2020.

It will no doubt be a concern to Eagles fans that Vieira has little experience compared to the likes of Nuno and Favre, but there will perhaps be a huge sigh of relief that they finally have a man in the dugout.







Patrick Vieira is set to become the new Crystal Palace manager
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The Zaha problem

Palace are often regarded as a one-man team — and there’s a reason why.

Wilfried Zaha, the Eagles superstar who came through the ranks at Selhurst Park, has been a constant menace for Palace in the Premier League era.

The arrival of Eze has helped ease the burden on Zaha, but there’s no denying that Palace do not possess the same attacking threat when their prized asset is out of the team.







Wilfried Zaha has become frustrated at Crystal Palace
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It is understandable then that Parish is desperate to keep hold of the Ivory Coast star, with Everton and Arsenal both failing to prize him away from south London in recent years.

But Zaha, whose £130,000-a-week contract still has two years left to run, has made no secret of his desire to quit the club for pastures new.

In January, the 28-year-old — whose dream to play in the Champions League has been widely documented — admitted his shock that Arsenal signed Nicolas Pepe ahead of him.

Potential suitors failed to step up their interest but it’s expected that Zaha will again flirt with a move away this summer, leaving Parish with a huge decision to make.

Do they cash in on their star man and risk further backlash, or maintain their stubborn stance and risk upsetting the player?

It’s fair to say the chaos could continue in south London for some time.





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