Opinion: Frank de Boer Sacking Shows the Game Has Gone

Written by Alistair Laban

Palace's quickfire sacking of Frank de Boer has left fans questioning everything at the club. Here's Alistair Laban with some thoughts about the decision. 

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That’s a bit embarrassing. The time between my tweet asking for fans patience and the sacking of our sixth permanent manager in as many years was only slightly longer than Frank de Boer's ’s ultimately unsuccessful reign at the Palace.

I know the reaction to De Boer’s appointment, tenure and sacking spans the full range of opinion from the Palace faithful, and everyone is entitled to that opinion, including me. Although I’m not going to comment on the outlook of fans and how that aligns with my feelings, it seems noteworthy that Steve Parish felt obliged to address some of the voices on Twitter last night. I agree that his record as a chairman stands up and he should be commended for his ongoing engagement with fans. Despite Parish’s apparent transparency however, there are many things that really aren’t clear, and as a result, serve to fuel modern football’s favourite pastime; speculation.

I don’t really care for offering opinion on what may or may not happen, but the usual topics in question have come into focus given De Boer's rapid departure. We have all shared (some more aggressively that others) our thoughts on the transfer window just gone – should we have spent more? Is the squad big enough? What happens if Benteke gets injured or suspended? Is there even the money available to acquire the targets? The answers to these questions merely lead to more questions about transfer policy and accountability. If De Boer had the final say, was he backed? If the board knew his plan, did they support it at the time of appointment? If there wasn’t total buy-in to this step-change and transformation of playing style, why was he appointed in the first place? How can just four games be long enough to make these changes?

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For me, one question has come up a few times and it is about to be answered; is Palace an unattractive club for players? Regardless of whether it was or wasn’t, it certainly won’t be going forward. The real issue that todays announcement highlights is the lack of direction and focus the club now has. I accept that Pulis and Allardyce left unexpectedly, but these were ‘recovery’ appointments, not considered, long-term choices. Palace fans are becoming tired of the crisis rollercoaster and the installation of De Boer was supposed to address that. What was seen as a carefully planned coup of a reputable coach (with a well known style) has ended up as a phenomenally premature disaster. If we can’t build this club for more than a few weeks, never mind a few seasons, why on earth would players want to move to SE25? They may sign for one manager, an end up with another just a few games later, just like Mamadou Sakho, Jairo Riedewald, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Timothy Fosu-Mensa have done. Spare a thought for the youth setup too – De Boer’s arrival was the best prospect for those youngsters in a decade.

Managers come and go; I accept that as part of football. But this isn’t the football for me anymore. Parish has alluded to the need to develop and build a club ethic, a legacy, a mantra, and this was meant to be the start of it. Instead we are left with a club in disarray and yet again, colleagues ask me ‘what’s going on at Palace?!’ I’m fed up with responding to that. If this is the Premier League, I don’t want it. I hate the money and lack of commitment to anything in the game; I’m bored of the demands of fans that feel entitled to instant success. We won’t get it folks; we are Palace from the Football League. If you want trophies and European football you have to wait. Not weeks, not months, but seasons.

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This decision is simply one of money. More so than Parish, I’m looking at Josh Harris and David Blitzer (the American investors). Noted by Robert earlier today, one or both of them appeared to have flown in and back to America over the weekend and no doubt would have discussed De Boer’s future at the club. I expect that Parish would have indulged in tweet tennis last night knowing full well that the manager was getting the sack this morning, after the Americans demand quicker dividends on their investment. Although you could suggest that the Americans don’t understand football, I don’t think I do anymore either.

I just want a bit of stability for a change. I want us to do the right thing, not the most profitable thing. I am ok with losing four on the spin. I’d even be happier ending up relegated and rebuilding from the Championship if it meant that we could keep a bit of our integrity. Our identity is being eroded by poor decision making and serious commitment issues within the club; the next appointment must ultimately rebuild our reputation.

Whatever happens next, if Roy Hodgson is the answer, I have no idea what the question is. 

What is a Sporting Director and how can one help Crystal Palace?

Written by Naveed Khan

Dougie Freedman has today been appointed as Crystal Palace's Sporting Director. But what does that mean for the club and Frank de Boer? Here's Naveed Khan with some insight. 

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1995, 2000, 2005, 2010 (twice) and now 2017 – the years in which Dougie Freedman has either joined Crystal Palace or taken up a new role within the club. He is now the club’s Sporting Director the idea being to work alongside the Chairman, the Recruitment Team and the Manager.

It’s the fourth time Palace have ventured down this road. The first time was in 1995, when the club appointed Steve Coppell as Technical Director, with Ray Lewington and Peter Nicholas in charge of first team affairs (ironically the structure under which Freedman was first signed as a player by Palace). Coppell left for Manchester City in 1996 and was not replaced. A second attempt was made in 2005 when Bob Dowie was appointed and then again in 2014 with Iain Moody taking up the role.

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While none of those has lasted long, it is a position that three of the last four owners have tried to utilise. Steve Parish has said it is a role he’s long wanted to fill; perhaps the right candidate was not available or the managers at the time did not want to be undermined. But having worked with a Sporting Director at Ajax and Inter Milan, Frank De Boer will be aware of the benefits and pitfalls and how it impacts on his role as manager.

The timing has caught some by surprise – the season having started, signings being awaited and a manager still waiting for his first win. Is it a PR stunt? Is he a contingency should De Boer leave?

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On the face of it, the appointment of a Sporting Director is a progressive one. It gives the chance for appropriate focus to be given to the club’s infrastructure. It allows the manager to focus more on first team affairs while someone with an in-depth working knowledge of football able to conduct the administrative function as opposed to the Chairman. It also adds weight to Tim Coe’s team as player recruitment models evolve.

The days of hearing about players, going to watch them play and evaluating them are close to becoming a thing of the past. Now, agencies are able to feed data directly into the systems of clubs and recruitment teams crunch numbers and use this as a first port of call in player evaluation. It makes sense that joining that team is somebody who has played the game, scouted, coached and managed.

A Sporting Director with a playing and coaching pedigree is able to balance the needs of the manager as well as delve into the analytics which have a degree of emphasis placed upon them this season.

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(Oliver Burke played under Dougie Freedman at Nottingham Forest and is now being linked with a move to Palace from RB Leipzig) 

Further, should the appointment be long-term, it allows for continuity behind the scenes, a development of strategy and implementation of longer term plans not contingent on the retention of any particular manager. In turn, it should allow for more wrinkle-free managerial appointments and the idea that the club has a blueprint and a manager is hired to see that through as opposed to each coming with his own ideas.

Whether Freedman is the right appointment, only time will tell. There is potential for some sentimental fans re-writing his time as manager and longing for him to be appointed as manager if results do not pick up. While he signed some value as manager at Palace, he did not replicate this at Bolton or Forest so there will be lingering doubts. However, given his century of goals for the team, his efforts to keep the club ticking in the build up to CPFC2010 taking over, his work as both Assistant Manager and Manager it is clear there is a bond between him and the club. At the very least, given he’s saved us three times, he deserves a chance to prove himself.

VIDEO: Frank de Boer opens up about first few weeks in Palace job

Written by Robert Sutherland

Frank de Boer is enjoying being back in club football at Crystal Palace after eight months out of a job.

The Dutchman won multiple titles in his first job at Ajax but then lasted just three months at Inter at the start of last season, getting the boot in November.

But he is back in work at Palace and watched his first game as Eagles boss at Maidstone United on Saturday.

And he enjoyed being back in the dugout, saying: "Yeah very good [to be back].

"People [at Palace] are very helpful; a lot of quality not only in the team but also in the staff so we are very pleased.

"It’s always nice. The games are always the nicest ones of course training is also nice but in the end it’s all about the games." 

Watch De Boer talk about this and more in the video below.


Jason Pucheon will continue as Palace captain under De Boer

Written by Robert Sutherland

Frank de Boer has confirmed that Jason Puncheon will continue as club captain.

Punch was handed the armband by Sam Allardyce last season and the Eagles immedieatly started winning games.

He's a local lad who loves being the skipper of the team he grew up round the corner from. He told the FYP Podcast in April: "I just always try to be me and when I cross that white line as far as I'm concerned all I want to do is achieve a win and if I can help everyone around me - and I might not have the best game myself - if I've done that and they have [played well] then I've done my job.

"It's emotional. It's a special moment for me, being at my hometown club. I've sat in those stands before, I've walked these roads when there's big games going on, so to sit there and be able to do it myself, I take great pride in in it."

Talking about Puncheon’s new role, De Boer said to Palace's official website: “He has to be an example for the team and understand the philosophy of what we want, and he can be that not just for the first-team players but also for the youngsters and that’s very important.

“At the beginning I had a look around and got to know everyone better but I had my information that he would be the best captain and he has proven that in the past three weeks. Therefore, for me there was no discussion; he is our captain.

“He knows the responsibility and what that means, and he has to be an example of what Crystal Palace is.”

Puncheon always knew he would play for Palace one day and finally returned to the team he played youth football for in August 2013, first on loan from Southampton and then in a permanent deal a few months later.

Puncheon added: “It’s a proud moment but the important thing for me is transferring what we want to be as a football club from the management and coaching staff to the players, whether they are senior players or youngsters.”

Listen to Punch on the FYP Pod here