Even before the Premier League season has begun, the top flight has seen its first managerial casualty of the campaign with Tony Pulis dramatically walking out on Crystal Palace after a row over transfer policy.
Less than 48 hours before Palace start their season at Arsenal, Pulis, whose appointment last November triggered a remarkable run from likely relegation to comfortable survival, departed the club.
Earlier in the day it was widely reported that Pulis and club co-chairman Steve Parish were holding talks to discuss issues relating to transfer dealings.
Pulis has grown frustrated over the summer by the club failing to push through deals for various players he targeted to strengthen the squad.
The row centred on transfer responsibility, with Pulis wanting more control of football matters, which has been the role of Parish and the sporting director Iain Moody. Ironically, Palace signed Liverpool full-back Martin Kelly. But Palace fans will be left wondering what Parish was doing in allowing Pulis to leave at all, never mind at this crucial time. The parting of the ways came after a long meeting between the two.
Pulis, 56, took over as manager in November last year after Ian Holloway, who had got Palace promoted the previous season, struggled with life in the Premier League.
The former Stoke City manager was wary of joining Palace, with rumoured disagreements over budgets before he even joined. Yet once he took the plunge in November, Pulis worked an amazing turnaround with only limited funds and guided Palace to an 11th-place finish in the Premier League. He was also deservedly named Premier League manager of the year.
The expectation was that Palace would kick on during the close season and develop a squad to avoid a second relegation battle. But despite being linked to a number of players, including Steven Caulker and Gylfi Sigurdsson, that did not transpire.
Palace’s assistant manager Keith Millen will be in charge for tomorrow’s trip to the Emirates. Pulis’s other coaching staff – including Gerry Francis and David Kemp – have been asked to stay for the Arsenal game before leaving the club.
Now to start a new chapter of my football career at crystal palace a great club with unbelievable fans excited already for the weekendMartin Kelly (@MartinKelly1990) August 14, 2014
Before reports of the meeting involving Pulis and Parish emerged, Palace completed the signing of Kelly on a three-year contract. The 24-year-old made his debut back in 2009 but found first-team opportunities limited, with a serious knee injury also ruling him out for a year.
Kelly, capped once by England in a 2012 friendly against Norway, became Palace’s fourth signing of the summer following the acquisitions of Chris Kettings, Fraizer Campbell and Brede Hangeland.
Confirming the move on their official website, the south London club wrote: “Crystal Palace are delighted to confirm the signing of versatile defender Martin Kelly from Liverpool for an undisclosed fee.”
Premier League 2014/15 kits: In pictures
Premier League 2014/15 kits: In pictures
1/20 Aston Villa
Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini of Arsenal launch the new Puma Arsenal kits at the Puma Store on Carnaby Street. The yellow shirt will be for away matches and the blue shirt for away cup matches
2/20 Aston Villa (Home)
A number of clubs have opted for the thin stripe design on this season's shirt, and Aston Villa appear to have followed suit.
3/20 Burnley (Home)
Burnley's claret and blue shirt, sponsored by Puma, is a decent viewing on their return to the Premier League.
4/20 Chelsea (Home)
After Chelsea's famous paint campaign last season, Oscar models the simple, horizontal stripe design for the royal blue home kit. A solid effort from Adidas, but a pricey one at £55 for a short-sleeved shirt.
5/20 Chelsea (Away)
Reminiscent of their famous 1998 shirt - and the infamous 2008 one which they played in under Luiz Felipe Scolari - Chelsea have chosen the Brazilian style design for their away shirt.
6/20 Crystal Palace (Home & Away)
Is it Barcelona or more Steaua Bucharest? Either way, Crystal Palace's new home shirt is a simple and smart piece of innovation from manufacturers Macron. Their away kit, however, looks suspiciously like Napoli's - whose kit is also made by Macron - away shirt from 2013/14.
7/20 Everton (Home)
Everton players James McCarthy, Tim Howard and Leighton Baines model the 2014/15 shirt, which marks the comeback of Umbro into the Premier League.
8/20 Leicester City (Home)
Leicester City's return to the Premier League has been marked with this rather smart effort by Puma. Carrying a similar template to Italy's shirts can never go wrong.
Leicester City Football Club
9/20 Liverpool (Home)
Warrior's latest crack at the Liverpool home shirt is an impressive one indeed, marking a return to the red and white colourway as opposed to red and gold in 2013/14.
10/20 Liverpool (Away)
Their attempt at designing a decent away shirt, however, continues to falter with this ultra-bright yellow and red mix.
11/20 Liverpool (Third Kit)
Liverpool's questionable choice for a sache and hoop combo has come under-fire from fans.
12/20 Manchester City (home)
The Premier League champions have unveiled their updated Nike shirt, with a black v-neck collar replacing the previous blue and white trim on the crew neck.
Manchester City FC
13/20 Manchester United (Home)
Featuring new sponsors Chevrolet, the large logo has attracted a mixed response from Red Devils fans.
14/20 Manchester United (Away)
Wayne Rooney in the new Manchester United away kit
15/20 Newcastle United (Away)
A silky silver shirt replaces the plain black version from 2013/14, and seems to suit the rather bright Wonga sponsor a lot better.
16/20 QPR (Home, Away & Third Kit)
Perhaps one of the best looking shirts so far, QPR's horizontal hoop home shirt is a joy to behold. The decision to have an all-white away shirt is quite baffling, however, given that white is also included in the home, and the third kit is somewhat Sunday League-ish.
17/20 Southampton (Home)
Southampton's home kit for 2014/15
18/20 Stoke City (Home & Away)
Stoke kits for 2014/15
19/20 Swansea City (Home & Away)
Swansea City 2014/15 kits
20/20 West Ham (Home & Away)
West Ham kits for 2014/15
Palace have also been linked with a move to bring their former forward Wilfried Zaha back to Selhurst Park after a difficult first year at Manchester United.
Speaking on Tuesday, Parish told Sky Sports News: “It’s up to the manager, the players we sign. It’s not up to me. I’m there to help him get the squad he wants. There’s a sentimental value and I loved Wilf as a kid and he did sensational things for us.
“I know the fans would like him back and that will play a part, but in the end the manager will decide what we do.”
Talk of Pulis possibly leaving Palace caused a stir earlier in the day, with former England captain Gary Lineker, now host of Match of the Day, writing on Twitter: “Seems that Tony Pulis is walking away from Crystal Palace. Extraordinary turn of events just 2 days before the start of the season.”
Malky Mackay, Chris Hughton and Tim Sherwood could be among the out-of-work managers who are linked to the vacancy.
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