West Brom V Crystal Palace at The Hawthorns : Match Preview

01 November 2013 04:01
West Brom V Crystal Palace - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Clarke: Holloway brave to walk away

West Brom head coach Steve Clarke feels Ian Holloway made a "brave" decision to leave Crystal Palace.

Holloway's tenure as Palace boss came to an end last week when he departed the club - who are currently bottom of the Barclays Premier League - by mutual consent following a 4-1 home loss to Fulham.

The 50-year-old, appointed Eagles manager in November 2012, guided them to promotion via the Championship play-offs last season and at a press conference last Wednesday where Holloway's exit was confirmed, Palace co-chairman Steve Parish emphasised he had had no intention of sacking him.

Holloway himself spoke of not having the necessary energy to keep the club in the top flight and a lack of spirit within the squad following a raft of changes to it over the summer.

Asked ahead of West Brom's home league clash with Palace on Saturday if he thought Holloway had gone too soon, Clarke said: "It is not for me to answer that. Only Ian will know.

"He obviously felt something wasn't right and chose to get out.

"It is a brave decision to make, because he is obviously putting himself out of work. But you have to respect Ian's decision."

The Fulham defeat was Palace's seventh in their opening eight Premier League matches this season.

And last Saturday they once again failed to take any points as they lost 2-0 at home to table-toppers Arsenal in a contest where they were overseen by caretaker boss Keith Millen, who will remain in charge for the trip to The Hawthorns.

It looks a promising prospect for West Brom, but Clarke has stressed Albion are not expecting an easy ride.

"There are no easy games," Clarke said.

"It is right to say 'no disrespect to Palace' because I watched them last week against Arsenal, and for 87 minutes (Arsenal scored their second goal in the 87th minute) they were right in the game."

The Baggies are assessing the condition of midfielders Morgan Amalfitano and Scott Sinclair ahead of the clash on Saturday.

Amalfitano came off with a knee injury in the first half of last weekend's 4-1 league defeat at Liverpool, but could be fit enough to feature against Palace.

There is also a chance on-loan winger Sinclair, who has missed the last three matches due to a hamstring complaint, will be ready to make his return.

Despite their current predicament Millen believes Palace are far from a lost cause.

There have been suggestions their lowly position has put off some candidates for the vacant managerial post, but Millen insists there is enough time and talent for Palace to beat the drop.

"There is enough points to play for to stay up," the caretaker boss said.

"We have got to be better than three other teams and if you can get a win or a point even on Saturday, it is a start.

"We are not adrift yet. I mean a couple of good results and we'll be within touching distance of other teams.

"We've got to stay positive and looking forward to the game on Saturday.

"I can only speak from myself, working with the group day in and day out.

"There is still belief there. I think we've got enough talent in the squad to compete with, if you like, five or six other teams in this division.

"You only have to be better than three others to survive and I feel where we are at the moment we can do that."

Millen reiterated in his pre-match press conference that he would not be applying for the job on a permanent basis, believing a fresh view is needed to turn things around at Selhurst Park.

Tony Pulis, Chris Coleman and Martin O'Neill are the bookmakers' favourites to take over at Palace, while former Scotland manager Alex McLeish has confirmed his interest.

"There are a lot of good names being bandied around out there," Millen said.

"I think it is hard for the chairman to make a decision quickly. I am sure he will speak to a lot of people and have a second round of interviews.

"It takes time and we've managed to give him that, so I am delighted to be in charge this Saturday."

Asked in particular about former Palace defender Coleman and McLeish, Millen added: "They are managers that have managed in the Premier League and been successful in their own right, like a lot of the names bandied about.

"Chris Coleman is obviously an ex-Palace player, so the fans will know him, and Alex McLeish has an excellent record.

"They are big names and I can understand why big names want the job because it is a well-run club."

Millen has no fresh injury concerns for Saturday's trip to the West Midlands.


Source: PA