LONDON: Neil Warnock has become the Premier League’s first managerial casualty of the season – an “unfortunate decision” Crystal Palace co-chairman Steve Parish felt he had no choice but to take.
Just four months after beginning a second spell at the Selhurst Park helm, the 66-year-old has been relieved of his duties having failed to carry on the stellar work done by predecessor Tony Pulis.
The south Londoners slipped into the bottom three on Boxing Day after an embarrassing 3-1 home defeat to Southampton, during which supporters turned on Warnock.
Palace have acted swiftly to halt that alarming slide by sacking the Yorkshireman and putting Keith Millen in caretaker charge for the second time this season.
“It just didn’t gel,” co-chairman Steve Parish told the South London Press. “It didn’t work. Keith is probably in charge for the next two games.
“We need a win. QPR is no bigger than any other but we need three points.
“Neil is a lovely bloke. He did everything he could.
“It’s an unfortunate decision. I thought about it overnight and decided we needed a change. Hopefully we’ll get a reaction from everybody.”
Palace go into the match against QPR on Sunday on a miserable run of form, with the Boxing Day defeat to Saints meaning they have won just one of their last 12 top-flight matches.
The latest loss saw Warnock incense home fans by bringing defender Martin Kelly on for winger Yannick Bolasie when they were three goals down, while there were also boos from the Selhurst Park faithful at the final whistle.
“When you lose a game you’re responsible, I’ve no complaints about that,” he said of the fans’ reaction.
“Bolasie’s wife is having a baby and he was tired before the game today.
“What with us playing at QPR in not much more than 24 hours, I thought we would just save his legs a bit.
The Palace board will be keen to make a swift appointment given the transfer window is days away from reopening.
Tim Sherwood and Tony Popovic are already standout candidates to replace Warnock, with the latter having last month led Western Sydney Wanderers to the Asian Champions League.
The former Australia international has strong ties with the Eagles, having played for the club for five seasons before returning in 2011 as part of Dougie Freedman’s backroom set-up.
Sherwood is again in the running for a job he ruled himself out of in August, with the ex-Tottenham head coach saying he would have wanted to succeed Pulis had he been offered the position after his interview.
Malky Mackay, now in charge at Wigan, had been the favourite to succeed Pulis, only for allegations of misconduct to see Palace end their interest.