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Patrick Vieira and a sacking swimming in an ocean of melancholy


The Premier League is the greatest cult in the world, a microclimate of hot air, dependent thought, confused entitlement and pound notes. On Friday morning, hitherto popular member Patrick Vieira disappeared, no questions asked. Who fancies some Kool-Aid?

Crystal Palace’s decision to sack Vieira, who by every reasonable judgment has done a fine job at Selhurst Park, leaves the least pleasant taste since Football Daily drunkenly decided to go toe-to-toe with some mouldy ricotta. Palace have gone 11 games without a win, it’s true, and they are only three points above the relegation places, but all of those matches were against teams in the top 11. This season’s Premier League splits into two tiers, with Palace top of the second, also known as the relegation battle. Twelfth is where they finished last season, too, while reaching an FA Cup semi-final and playing some of the more stylish football seen at Selhurst Park.

“It is with enormous regret that this difficult decision has been made,” wailed the inconsolable Palace chairman Steve Parish. “Ultimately, results in recent months have placed us in a precarious league position and we felt a change is necessary to give us the best chance of retaining Premier League status.”

Yeah, about that. The consensus is that sacking a manager increases the chances of survival. Tell that to the 21 clubs in the past decade who did exactly that and still went down. Watford’s decision to set up a state-of-the-art P45 factory hasn’t exactly been conducive to stability and progress. With the run of fixtures coming up after this weekend’s trip to north London, there was almost no chance Palace would have been relegated under Vieira.

With the recent progress Palace have made on and off the field, they had an exciting chance to build something enduring, maybe even enjoy the club’s greatest period since Steve Coppell and Alan Smith left everyone glad all over in the early 1990s. Instead, at the first sign of trouble, they stepped compliantly back onto the carousel.

“Patrick’s impact since joining us in the summer of 2021 has been significant,” continued Parish, “and he is held in the highest regard by myself and all of his colleagues.”

It’s not you, Patrick – it’s us, it’s life, it’s football. If you’re going to fire someone, at least have the decency to do it like that finger-jabbing eejit on The Apprentice. This is a burgeoning development in the Premier League: statements to announce a sacking that hint at an ocean of melancholy and endless dark nights of the soul, rather than a deluded, trigger-happy reaction to the first bit of adversity.

And so it is with enormous regret that Football Daily must announce that we really, really, really, really hope Palace are relegated this season. If only because people might start questioning what happened to all those nice managers we don’t see any more.


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“I know what it means, the FA Cup was my first trophy in English football, I remember the first time we won it, we celebrated it like we had won the league” – Burnley manager Vincent Kompany inadvertently manages to talk down the FA Cup while attempting to big it up.


Can I one be of 1,056 readers who may have spotted that the fonts in your letters section have changed from to italics then back to normal (Fiver letters passim)? Hmm, on rereading what I’ve just written, I realise this could probably be the most boring letter ever penned. However it IS the Fiver so it will be interesting to see whether you publish it, even in an ironic way (y’know with italics or something) or humorously cut me off in mid fl – Rod de Lisle

Congratulations to Football Daily for its contribution to this. “Fifa’s hastily-squashed Women’s World Cup sponsorship deal with Saudi Arabia, which had been condemned by *checks notes* … Football Australia and others.” Clearly those notes failed to mention Team Heroine, the Government of the People’s Republic of Aotearoa, and NZ Football, all of which may have expressed their feelings with, or well before, our Fifa Women’s World Cup joint hosts in the West Island – Ewan McDonald

I was delighted to see David Squires’ cartoon about my adopted hometown finally getting a shot in the flamin’ A-League (men’s), and especially for the shoutout to our excellent A-League (women’s) side. If we can’t get a men’s team called the Canberra Skywhales, the least we deserve is a supporters group called Capital Punishment – Adam Osborne

Send your letters to Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … Rod de Lisle.

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