Crystal Palace found difficulty in reaching Patrick Vieira on Thursday – perhaps he knew what was coming.
Just hours after the defeat to Brighton on Wednesday night, the initial silence from Vieira was deafening. Truth be told it was rather irritating, too.
The original plan was for Vieira to be in charge for Arsenal on Sunday before discussing his future in the international break.
Those talks would likely have led to his dismissal anyway. People in positions of power at Selhurst Park have been hugely disappointed with how the team have performed in recent weeks.
No wins in 2023 – a run of 12 games – is sacking form at any club.
Patrick Vieira was dismissed from his role as Crystal Palace manager on Friday morning
The former midfielder felt he wasn’t backed by the club – who have been irked by the manager’s lack of willingness to communicate
But it wasn’t like Palace had totally made up their mind after the loss at the Amex. Chairman Steve Parish wanted an opportunity to gauge where Vieira’s head was at.
PATRICK VIEIRA AT CRYSTAL PALACE
Games managed: 74
Goals for: 84
Goals against: 87
Win rate: 29.73%
He wanted to sense if the fire was still burning. Yet there is understood to have been a difficulty in actually communicating with Vieira on Thursday as the club sought to discuss a way forward.
It wasn’t until Friday morning – at around 7am – that matters came to a head during a phone call as Vieira made his way to the training ground.
As you can imagine – a full and frank discussion ensued.
Vieira believes he’s not been supported, in more ways than just the transfer market.
In contrast, Palace have been irked by what they view as a lack of willingness to communicate from Vieira in recent weeks.
Issues after the 1-1 draw at Brentford, where Palace conceded a late equaliser, in February and then the 1-0 loss at Aston Villa earlier this month served to compound the growing disconnect between manager and boardroom.
Vieira is believed to be disappointed that the club have not been more forthcoming with regards to the club offering him a new contract. His deal expired at the end of next season.
It has been indicated to Sportsmail that the club were preparing to open talks over a deal after the World Cup.
But Palace’s form since then means those discussions were impossible. For weeks there has been deep concerns about Vieira’s waning morale.
Palace chairman Steve Parish was keen to gauge whether Vieira was still mentally committed
The club’s dreadful form hit him hard. He’s been low – the loss against arch rivals Brighton arrived as another crushing blow to his mood.
Vieira is a deep-thinker, Palace wanted to have a clearer idea of what was eating away at him. It is clear now that Palace believed that Vieira’s fire for the fight had been extinguished.
On Friday morning, all parties agreed that there was no future in this once burgeoning relationship and Vieira was dismissed.
The Frenchman is a laid-back guy – and he’s tried to implement a relaxed atmosphere at the club’s Beckenham HQ. But like it or not, Palace are in the midst of a relegation battle; this isn’t a time for relaxation.
Indeed, there has been consternation that the culture Vieira has been trying to nurture isn’t one suitable for a club of Palace’s dynamics.
Sometimes home truths are necessary. Sometimes only a bollocking will suffice. There wasn’t much of that under Vieira. Of course, Vieira has experienced first hand exactly what a chilled environment can garner.
There were fears Vieira and his coaching staff lacked the experience to halt the team’s slide
Arsene Wenger actively avoided confrontation with his players. But it’s easy to be chilled when you’ve got Vieira, Dennis Bergkamp, Thierry Henry, Robert Pires et al in your team. Clubs like Palace do not have that luxury.
Indeed, Vieira’s decision to dispense of assistant coach Shaun Derry has been viewed as a mistake by those behind the scenes. It’s important to point out that Derry wasn’t a Vieira appointment.
Derry, a former Palace player, is a forthright individual. An entirely friendly and approachable guy off the field – but fierce when it comes to his football.
He would engage in difficult conversations with players he felt weren’t pulling their weight.
But Vieira didn’t appreciate his intense nature. In short: there was personality clash and Viera told Derry his services were no longer required around six weeks ago.
Vieira took a relaxed approach but there was a feeling that the players lacked discipline, while his decision to sack Shaun Derry (R) was seen as a mistake
Don’t be surprised to see Derry make a return to the club in the post Vieira-era.
Vieira believed his own team of Osian Roberts, Kristian Wilson and Saïd Aïgoun were enough.
But fears that his coaching staff lacked the experience to halt the team’s alarming slide towards relegation danger grew with every disappointing result.
Derry, too, is at the start of his coaching career – but there is a view that his inclination to call it as is would have benefitted the team. It must also be stressed that Vieira was never first choice for the Palace job.
The club – for one reason or another – failed to tempt a string of managers, including Lucien Favre, Nuno Espirito Santo and Steve Cooper, to replace Roy Hodgson at the start of last season.
Roy Hodgson is now seen as a contender to come in and galvanise the struggling squad
Vieira’s first season in charge was a success. An FA Cup semi-final coupled with what appeared to be a more attractive style of play instilled positivity.
Yet, even last season, there were concerns about Vieira’s plan. Palace were mechanical under Hodgson – not necessarily easy on the eye – but everyone knew their jobs and there was a clear pattern to his teams.
Under Vieira, Palace were more spontaneous, relying on the brilliance of their attacking players – namely Wilfried Zaha – to get them results.
Truth be told, there are many at Selhurst Park who still pine for Hodgson’s regimented style of play.
Hodgson is retired – but available. It’ll be interesting to see in what direction Palace head now.