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September 25 2023 4.14am

Funny old week

October 28 2012

Dougie Freedman

Dougie Freedman

Palace are lacking a manager for now, but still turning in some great performances, enthuses Jamesey.

We will shortly be seeing a new manager at Selhurst - the fifth since Simon Jordan handed in the keys to the executive washroom and made way for administration early in 2010.

Neil Warnock fled to Shepherd's Bush. Paul Hart was the administrator's stopgap choice and kept us in the Championship... just. George Burley was CPFC 2010, our new owners' first appointment but only lasted a few months to be replaced by a surprise decision, Dougie Freedman, in January 2011.

Although Dougie had been recruited as an assistant to Paul Hart, he was very much a rookie in the managerial stakes. Nevertheless he carried an immense stock of goodwill from all Palace fans who had admired his skills and goals on the field for the club over many years.

We all knew that the 2010-11 season would be tricky. But we stayed up by the skin of our teeth.

Dougie's first full season in charge, 2011-12, saw us struggling against relegation again.

Once more we stayed up but despite a few memorable high points the second half of the season produced some of the most negative and uninspiring league displays that this correspondent can ever remember.

After an atrocious start to the current season, the addition of a handful of new players saw the Eagles suddenly go into top gear and we have progressed from the depths of the league to fourth place (as I write).

Just before our away game at Barnsley (Oct 23), we learned that Dougie had decided to up and take over at Bolton Wanderers.

It was certainly a massive shock. Apart from being young and having been a great player, Dougie had little to show in his cv apart from our current stratospheric period.

Whatever the reasons, Bolton wanted him and he decided to go. Maybe he thought he had a better chance of being a Stacksodosh League manager with Bolton and there had been hints that he was financially dissatisfied and that his chairman, Steve Parish, was unhappy with team selection and tactics.

Anyway the team certainly confounded our worries with a 1-1 draw against the Tykes and topped that in a big way with a 1-2 win at the King Power Stadium against erstwhile Champioship leaders, Leicester (Oct 27).

Both the above games were played under the supervision of assistants Lennie Lawrence and Curtis Fleming who are almost certain to head north-west soon to join Dougie.

Steve Parish has already discounted the possible return of Steve Coppell on the grounds of age so that would rule out Lennie in any case.

Of course, the emergence of the manager as an important figure at a football club is a comparatively recent phenomenon.

When I first started supporting the Palace in the mid-50s, I didn't have a clue who the manager was and I didn't much care. We were only interested in the players at that time.

And I remember reading in the autobiography of the late Sir Stanley Matthews that in his early days as a player before WW2, many teams didn't have a manager at all. The chairman picked the team and there were no tactical talks. The lads just went out and played.

Now, of course, some managers are bigger stars than the top players. Times change but not always for the better.

The usual crowd of unemployed managerial suspects are in the frame as Dougie's successor so who will the board of CPFC 2010 choose? I have already dusted off my "Welcome, ???? ???????" template and we should know fairly soon...

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