Benitez and Marsch should be avoided
Hasenhuttl a safe pick
Crystal Palace's statement confirming the sacking of Patrick Vieira - on St. Patrick's Day, no less - said they had done so with 'enormous regret'.
That captures the strength of positive feeling towards Vieira during his successful first season in charge, when Palace came 12th, but after an 11-game winless run left them three points off the drop Steve Parish felt it was time to act.
He could have waited. Palace remain relatively outsiders at 9/2 to go down, the eighth favourite, thanks to the sheer number of weaker teams below them, but more importantly they have endured a difficult run of games.
Vieira's side have not played a team below them in the table since December 31 (the last day they won a game) and, after Arsenal on Sunday, eight of their final ten are against teams beneath them.
There is a very good chance Vieira would have collected the points required and, if backed in the transfer window to replace Conor Gallagher, build something lasting at Selhurst Park.
Sadly, Parish has panicked and the Vieira era is over. Here's a look at the frontrunners to replace him.
After his unsuccessful four months in charge of Watford Roy Hodgson said he would not be seeking another Premier League job, and although the 75-year-old might be tempted by another stint at Palace it would be best for all parties if this was avoided. He is the current favourite only because a return would be romantic - and because many believe Palace need a fire-fighter in charge.
They do not. There is plenty of time left to steady the ship during a simpler run of games. Hodgson's extreme defensive caution is unlikely to inspire Palace but rather sink them further into their malaise as they revisit tired old ground. What's more, it would in no way set them up for the future, plus it's not like there is a dearth of more adventurous project managers on the market.
In the summer of 2021 Lucien Favre almost took the Palace job only for a last-minute change of heart when he decided he needed more time out of the game. After a year without a post he most recently returned to Nice for an underwhelming six-month stint that probably leaves him feeling ready for a shot at the Premier League.
Favre is a very exciting attacking manager. His teams play aesthetic possession football that gets the fans on their feet and his track record is very strong: he took Borussia Dortmund very close to the Bundesliga title and finished in the top four at Nice, Borussia Monchengladbach, and Hertha Berlin, as well as taking Zurich to their first league title in 25 years.
He is a very special manager and, with Palace's fixtures easing him in, Favre can spend the next couple of months getting to know the club before a rebuild in the summer.
It only took three matches at Leeds United for Jesse Marsch to start winning games and inspire an escape from relegation on the final day of the season, but there is no reason to assume he would similarly hit the ground running at Crystal Palace. He inherited a team coached in a very similar style by Marcelo Bielsa, whereas at Selhurst Park everything would change.
They do have the attacking players to implement a hard-running philosophy and to play in the transition (at their best, Vieira's Palace were very strong on the counter) but surely there is not enough time left for Marsch to get his ideas across. They do not need to panic with a fire-fighter, but still a complete overhaul of ideas would be too far the other way.
Besides, Marsch hasn't really proved himself in England. His intense character and strange tactical decisions led to early dismissals in his last two jobs, at Leeds United and RB Leipzig.
Ralph Hasenhuttl is not a manager who will fill the Palace fans with optimism, but Southampton were a competent side who repeatedly punched above their weight despite spending little in the transfer market which, judging by recent history, is the job description at Crystal Palace.
Significantly, Hasenhuttl's style of football is actually very similar to Vieira's: both sit their teams in a midblock for long periods, only engaging in snappy pressing taps in the middle third of the pitch, before instructing their forwards to counter-attack at speed.
The transition would be seamless, and with Hasenhuttl's experience in relegation battles he can be considered a safe pair of hands should Favre again turn Palace down.
Rafael Benitez is a hugely respected figure in the game and, with recent experience dealing with relegation, it is plausible that Parish will see him as the right star manager to secure survival this season and make Palace more secure in 2023/24. But hiring Benitez would be a mistake.
He was a catastrophe at Everton, who brought him out of semi-retirement after a stint at Dalian Professional in China before the pandemic struck. Even at Newcastle United his achievements were quickly matched by Steve Bruce, and before that Benitez performed dreadfully at Real Madrid and to par at Napoli. His last ten-year record in the game really isn't good enough.