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Amid Premier League manager’s sacking, Crystal Palace seems to have found the perfect solution in Patrick Vieira

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Amid Premier League manager’s sacking, Crystal Palace seems to have found the perfect solution in Patrick Vieira

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T

he start of the international November truce in a parallel universe. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s misery is over, Antonio Conte has just moved into the presidential suite at Manchester’s Lowry Hotel and whoever would have been Daniel Levy’s tenth pick is still in the hot seat at Tottenham, desperately hoping Harry Kane returns from England’s upcoming trip to San Marino with his rediscovered shooting boots.

Meanwhile, at Selhurst Park, Nuno Espirito Santo has been in his reign for three months and is scoring points towards the magical mark of 40, Crystal Palace’s main goal after a summer of massive upheaval.

This Premier League season has already been littered with moments of managerial sliding doors, but Palace’s decision to withdraw from talks with Nuno in June has proven to be among the most important, albeit too harsh, too simplistic, to say they dodged a bullet.

The 47-year-old would surely have been a better fit for the Selhurst gig than the Spurs’ one, his counterattack philosophy more palatable to a fanbase looking for an upgrade to Roy Hodgson’s focused approach. on security than that promised “free of charge” fluid, offensive “football by their president, and his management style of men more effective in a small cohesive team than that inflated by the demands of European competition.

The comparison is less about what Palace avoided by not hiring the Portuguese and more about what they gained by appointing Vieira instead; however Nuno could have gotten away with it, it’s hard to imagine things could have gotten better.

Already, Vieira has been responsible for transforming the club’s playstyle, quickly turning the value of a half-team of exciting summer additions into a functional shooting team that he says is growing “mature” all the time. , a team that has secure statement wins against Manchester City and Tottenham and was only beaten by Liverpool and Chelsea.

Unlike Nuno’s doomed tenure at Spurs – perhaps in part because Nuno’s doomed tenure at Spurs – Vieira wasn’t crippled by the fact that he wasn’t the first, or even the second choice, given that former Borussia Dortmund boss, Lucien Favre, was also about to take the post. All over the capital, Palace fans saw what they could have won and must now feel like they’ve hit the jackpot.

Vieira’s side are actually one point behind Hodgson’s at the same stage last season, but almost every other stats out there speaks of progress. According to analysis firm Soccerment, out of 11 games this season, the Eagles have averaged 11% more possession than last year and have made about 100 more passes in each game. Expected goals for are up and expected goals against are down, as Palace has moved up to the top half of the table despite facing the toughest fixture list of any team in the league. division.

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But Vieira’s impact as a coach has been equally evident in the performance of individual players, and – perhaps most impressive – players of very different profiles and stature. Hodgson was highly regarded and universally respected, but the star quality of Vieira, one of the truly colossal figures of the Premier League era, made him a far more inspiring and accessible presence.

Longtime Palace talisman Wilfried Zaha grew up as an Arsenal fan and clearly enjoys life under a larger football regime: “I feel like now we are harnessing the talent we have to up front and all around the pitch, ”he said last week. Another mainstay, James McArthur, produced one of the best footballers of his Palace career, months after he looked certain he was part of the major summer exodus.

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