Tim Sherwood met Crystal Palace co-chairman Steve Parish yesterday morning as the south London club began interviewing candidates for the manager’s job following Tony Pulis’s departure.
Sherwood, who left Tottenham Hotspur at the end of last season after five months in charge, is one of three potential candidates to take over at Selhurst Park, with former Cardiff City coach Malky Mackay also in the frame.
Parish is to speak to one other active manager before making a decision this week. He all but dismissed caretaker boss Keith Millen’s application, made to the media after Saturday’s defeat at Arsenal, when Parish told Match of the Day he wanted someone with “intimate experience” of the Premier League.
A new season is a time of hope, but it does not take long for doubts to intrude. They muscled their way in at Palace even before the opening day. Saturday’s last-minute defeat at the Emirates intensified concerns. Palace were organised and spirited but the unresolved limitations in the playing staff, which appear to have prompted their erstwhile manager’s exit, were clear.
The furrowed brows were not restricted to the losers’ dressing room. Arsenal were delighted to snatch a late win but one of their players may have suffered dark thoughts.
Jack Wilshere was once England’s and Arsenal’s great hope. He has since been overtaken at club level by Aaron Ramsey and with his country by Ross Barkley.
Paul Scholes criticised him last season for not “training on” and Jamie Carragher and Jamie Redknapp joined in the criticism on Sky after Saturday’s match. Ramsey, said Redknapp, was doing what Wilshere should be doing, seizing games by the scruff of the neck. Both men felt that, if everyone was fit, there would be no place for Wilshere in Arsenal’s starting XI. Which, with Barkley potentially out until Christmas, is not good news for Roy Hodgson.
Wilshere, after an ineffectual hour, was withdrawn on Saturday long before Arsenal won the match. This was, said Arsène Wenger, because the midfielder was short of sharpness due to illness last week. “He was sick in the last few days and I felt he started to miss his competitiveness,” said the manager. Wenger added that the criticism of Wilshere was “not fair”.
The 22-year-old has had a series of injuries in the last two years and Wenger said: “Let’s give him games, he has to build up slowly. The most important thing to him is not to have any problems with his ankle but it looks like he’s on the right way on that front. He looks sharper every week.”
Wilshere will need to maintain that improvement as Mesut Özil and Lukas Podolski will soon be back in contention after an extended break following Germany’s World Cup success. They will join a pool of midfielders that besides Wilshere and Ramsey includes Mikael Arteta, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Santi Cazorla, Tomas Rosicky and Mathieu Flamini. With Alexis Sanchez playing an advanced role, that leaves nine players (plus Theo Walcott when fit) competing for four places.
Palace’s next manager can only dream of choosing from such quality.