SACKED AT PALACE
(Sunday 29th April 2001 - revised Monday 30th April 2001)
Former Wycombe Manager Alan Smith has been sacked as Manager of First Division Crystal Palace just nine months after he took charge at Selhurst Park. Assistant Ray Houghton has also been shown the door and Chief Scout Steve Kember will take charge for their final two games of the season - away to Portsmouth on Wednesday (2nd May) and away to Stockport County next Saturday (5th May).
A run of just two wins in sixteen games have seen The Eagles drop into the relegation zone and the 2-0 home defeat to Wolves on Saturday left them three points adrift of safety. Speaking after the game Smith told the press "Only so much can come from the coach and sometimes it's got to come from within. There's definitely a lack of self-motivation. The attacking third and defending third is something this club needs to sort out. I am the manager and I have to shoulder the blame but sometimes players need to take some responsibility."
Defeat at Portsmouth in their penultimate game of the season would see Palace relegated to the Second Division and Chairman Simon Jordan was quick to take action after the defeat to Wolves, announcing his decision just before 1pm on Sunday.
He told the Official Palace website "It has been a difficult decision because through all the disappointment there has been some very positive strides forward made within the structure of this football club since I took over in July. It should not be forgotten that we had an excellent cup run which saw victories recorded against quality Premiership sides. I thank Alan and Ray for their effort throughout the season and we all wish them the best of luck in the future"
The departure of Smith added fuel to the speculation that Lawrie Sanchez was being lined up to take charge at Selhurst Park but Simon Jordan was quick to rule out Sanchez and fans favorite Steve Coppell. Speaking on the Monday after Smith's departure on BBC Radio Five Live, Jordan said "He (Coppell) will not be coming back and neither will Dave Bassett. Lawrie Sanchez has done no more than Smith did, getting his club to a cup semi-final, and Micky Adams has only had success in the lower divisions." Jordan went on to say "We could be in the lower divisions next season but the club does not belong there and the squad does not have that feel to it." The rumour mill is now placing George Graham, Stuart Pearce and former Palace player Ray Wilkins into the equation. But Jordan is not being rushed into a decision "I am not going to drag it out for the sake of it but I have got until 25 June, when the players are due back for pre-season, and I want to make the right decision."
Jordan's comments should put Wycombe fans minds at rest despite Sanchez having already made it public knowledge that he intends to honour his contract with Wycombe. In the last twelve months Sanchez has been connected with the hot seats at Wimbledon, QPR and Southampton and with Wycombe's FA Cup exploits Sanchez will always be in the frame for any vacant Manager's role, particularly with club's in the South-East.
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