Crystal Palace eye Mackay to step into Pulis’ shoes

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Tony Pulis became the first Premier League manager to be shown the exit door before a ball had even been kicked, less than 48 hours before the big kick off.

Disagreements between the former Stoke boss and Palace chairman Steve Parish over the club’s transfer dealings led to a mutual decision to terminate the 56-year-old’s contract at Selhurst Park.

Pulis had reportedly been angry at the Parish’s lack of ambition over the pursuit of the likes of Connor Wickham and Gylfi Sigurdsson, as well as the co-owner’s decision to take a holiday during each of the last two transfer windows.

But on the eve of the Premier League season, the south London club are on the look-out for their 36th post-war boss.

Malky Mackay is a strong even money favourite to take the Palace hot-seat. The Scot is close friends with Parish and has proven himself to have what it takes to handle himself in English football’s top tier.

The former Cardiff gaffer was a contender to move to the capital last year, before Pulis secured the role, but chose to remain at Cardiff. Now a free agent, a move back into the dugouts could be on the cards.

One thing that Mackay may hold reservations on is the volatile nature that comes with leading the Eagles. Since their takeover in 2010, Steve Parish and his consortium have hired and fired five different ‘permanent’ managers. After his particularly fiery relationship with Vincent Tan at Cardiff, would Mackay be happy in a similar environment?

A trio of individuals share the second-favourite tag, with caretaker boss Keith Millen amongst them at 8/1. He has been the go-to guy in the past in the short term, taking charge for four games last November. A first permanent spell at the club could be on the cards, with Dougie Freedman (priced at 25/1 to make a return) the last man to turn a temporary contract into a permanent one with the club in 2011.

Also at 8/1 are Steve Clarke and Neil Lennon. With the former, until recently, set to take over as Indian Super League side Team Goa, it is likely the Palace hierarchy would have to splash the cash to turn his head.

Lennon, while there is no doubting his achievements at Celtic, would certainly be a risk. It remains to be seen how he would cope as working with a relatively small fish in a big pond, rather than the other way round. Relegation on his first season in the Premier League could do irreparable damage to a manager’s reputation.

With club legends Steve Coppell and Attilio Lombardo priced up at 33/1 there is no shortage of candidates to take the job, but the market suggests a quick return to the Premier League could be in store for Malky Mackay.

All odds and markets correct as of the date of publishing

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.