George Burley became the third Championship manager to be sacked in the Christmas and New Year period when Crystal Palace's 3-0 defeat in the south London derby at Millwall proved one reverse too many for the Selhurst Park board. Burley took over at Palace last June after the club was bought by the CPFC 2010 consortium. But the team languish a place off the bottom, and three points from safety, after Jason Puncheon's hat-trick had lifted Millwall to the play-off fringes.
"Results will keep me in the joband we're not getting them at the moment," Burley had presciently said immediately after the match. A Palace statement soon followed. "We would like to thank George for his dedication and hard work and share his regret that things didn't work out for him here," it read. Dougie Freedman takes charge of Palace for tomorrow's relegation scrap with bottom club Preston North End.
Preston, of course, had sacked their manager, Darren Ferguson, last week but found results no better, losing 2-1 at home to Derby County. Chris Porter scored both Rams goals. Burnley, the third side to replace their manager recently, adapted to post-Brian Laws life at Turf Moor by beating Sheffield United 4-2. The Blades had bucked the seasonal trend last week by actually appointing a manager, Micky Adams.
Meanwhile, Queens Park Rangers' lead was cut to four points when Russell Martin's 10th-minute strike saw promotion rivals Norwich City win 1-0 at Carrow Road. QPR's Matt Connolly was sent off in the 51st minute; the Canaries go third. Darren Pratley's goal just after the hour saw Swansea City take over in second place thanks to the 1-0 win over visitors Reading.
A fine injury-time volley by Luciano Becchio rescued a point for Leeds United in a 1-1 draw with Middlesbrough. Leeds stay fourth. Coventry City and Nottingham Forest lurk just outside the top six after home draws. City's Freddy Eastwood levelled against Ipswich. It ended 1-1, but the Sky Blues striker Marlon King was sent off. Lewis McGugan and Nathan Tyson scored as Forest came back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with Barnsley.
Doncaster beat Scunthorpe 3-0, Leicester won 1-0 at Hull and Watford beat Portsmouth 3-0.
Charlton celebrated the arrival of new owners Michael Slater and Tony Jimenez by clawing back Colchester three times to draw 3-3; leaders Brighton humbled Leyton Orient 5-0, Glenn Murray scoring a hat-trick; and Southampton are second after a 4-0 defeat of Exeter.
Barnet, 91st in the League, have sacked manager, Mark Stimson, after the 2-1 home defeat by Aldershot. Paul Fairclough takes charge of the Bees for tomorrow's match at Stevenage.