Football: Coppell ends his nine-year Palace tenure

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The Independent Online
NOT EVEN a holiday in Antigua could wash away the disappointment of last season's relegation for Steve Coppell, who upon his return yesterday immediately informed Ron Noades, his chairman, that after nine years as manager of Crystal Palace he had 'had his day'.

It was time for a new man to 'attack the challenge of getting promotion with a fresh approach', Coppell said. Whether Dave Bassett, the Sheffield United manager, or Coppell's assistant, Alan Smith - two of the supposed frontrunners - would provide that 'fresh approach' is a matter of some conjecture since both are advocates of the long ball which Palace have played under Coppell.

Other possible candidates include Joe Jordan, recently sacked by Hearts, and Ian Evans, the Millwall coach who was held in high regard during his time at Selhurst Park as a player and assistant to Coppell. Noades said he would not be rushing into an appointment. 'I'll probably have a board meeting in about 10 days' time,' he said, which, by happy coincidence, should be about the same time Bassett gets back from holiday.

Coppell's resignation was accepted with 'extreme disappointment' by Noades and Palace have granted Coppell, 37, a pounds 150,000 loyalty bonus despite falling 12 months' short of his contractual obligation.

With Brian Clough's retirement he was the Premier League's second longest serving current manager after Joe Royle (11 years). Had results on the last day of the season gone differently he would have been the longest. There must be a doubt whether Coppell, who was in love with football but certainly not management, will now stay in the game.

Coppell said: 'After a great deal of thought and consideration it is with much sadness and regret that I am leaving Crystal Palace. Over the past nine years I have tried my best to make Palace a top club and during this period we have enjoyed considerable success with promotion, the Zenith Cup win and the FA Cup final against Manchester United.

'Because of this success and the effort involved, this season's relegation was a terrible blow to me personally and I felt devastated. Despite my repeated pronouncements that 'I will see out my contract', on reflection I now feel that I have had my day and that a new man should attack the challenge of getting promotion with a fresh approach.

'I have become too involved with the club and its people to be objective and I genuinely believe that Crystal Palace have the best chance of gaining promotion back to the Premier League with a new manager.' Coppell thanked Noades 'for my first opportunity in football management and for his guidance over the years'. Noades had gambled on the bright, young Coppell, a graduate, when he appointed him manager upon his retirement from a playing career with England and United.

The two enjoyed a special, if sometimes turbulent, relationship. When Noades accused the Palace management of being unprofessional at times this season and on one occasion, at Hartlepool in the FA Cup, was critical of their tactics, Coppell refused to be drawn into a public dispute, saying his chairman was entitled to his opinions.

Gary Bannister, who was given a free transfer by Frank Clark, the new Nottingham Forest manager, has joined Stoke.