Two surprise candidates have emerged for the Crystal Palace job.
It was announced earlier today that veteran boss Roy Hodgson, 73, is stepping down this summer. A Palace statement confirmed that this Sunday’s Premier League season finale against Liverpool would be his last game in charge.
The talk is already about who Hodgson’s replacement will be. Frank Lampard, the former Chelsea manager, is the early favourite.
And going off the early bookmakers’ odds there are two surprising names in the shortlist. Both of them faced off against each other last night too, in the Championship play-offs.
Swansea chief Steve Cooper and Barnsley boss Valérien Ismaël have done outstanding jobs in their respective roles this season.
Cooper has again led the Swans to the top six, after falling short last term.
As for Ismaël, he has transformed the South Yorkshire side from relegation fodder to genuine promotion contenders.
Intriguingly, Ismaël has history with Palace. He enjoyed a brief albeit unremarkable spell at Selhurst Park as a player.
He joined them in January 1998 – for a then club-record fee – but played just a handful of games and was shipped back to France ten months later.
This isn’t the first time Ismaël has been linked with the job at Palace. Only last month, amid rumours of Hodgson’s impending exit, he was talked up as a candidate which led to Barnsley’s chief executive Dane Murphy releasing a statement.
Murphy said Ismaël “has given us no hint or impression that he wants to be anywhere else but in Barnsley.”
Murphy added: “We have him on a multiple year contract, he’s at the front of our ship and we want to keep him here for as long as we possibly can.”
Of course, there is the distinct possibility that Cooper or Ismaël could be alongside Palace in the Premier League next term.
But if neither team is promoted, then they could provide an interesting alternative for Palace chairman Steve Parish.
Parish has a difficult summer ahead as he looks to recruit a new boss and freshen up an ageing squad, with 13 players out of contract at the end of the campaign.
Next Crystal Palace manager odds (supplied by Skybet*): Frank Lampard 4/7, Eddie Howe 4/1, Sean Dyche 6/1, Steve Cooper 10/1, Chris Wilder 10/1, Valerien Ismael 16/1, Scott Parker 18/1, Patrick Vieira 25/1, Sam Allardyce 28/1, John Terry 33/1, Paulo Fonseca 33/1, Steven Gerrard 33/1.
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