Martin Keown has slammed Crystal Palace for sacking his former Arsenal teammate Patrick Vieira.
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Palace parted ways with Vieira on Friday with the Eagles yet to win a game in 2023 and now embroiled in a relegation fight.
Though the Eagles are 12th in the table, they are just three points above the relegation zone as they prepare to travel to Premier League leaders Arsenal on Sunday.
Palace have already confirmed that U18s coach and former club captain Paddy McCarthy will take charge of the team at the Emirates, while it has been reported that Vieira’s predecessor Roy Hodgson could return to Selhurst Park.
The former England boss was in charge from 2017 to 2021 though the 75-year-old claimed last year he did not expect to take another management job.
The reaction to Vieira’s sacking has been mixed but Keown was not happy at all, telling the Daily Mail: ‘Crystal Palace have made a grave mistake in sacking an outstanding young manager.
‘They have panicked and the timing feels particularly hurtful when Patrick Vieira was preparing to take his side back to Arsenal, the club he still loves.
‘I visited Palace’s training ground last month and spent the day shadowing him. There was a perfect harmony between Vieira and his players, who I suspect will have taken Friday’s news to heart.
‘Palace haven’t won in 2023 but their fixture list could not have been crueller. It’s almost like they were told their Premier League season was being split in two – you’re facing the top half of the table before March’s international break, and then the bottom half after it.
‘Amid this demanding run, Palace secured credible draws against Manchester United, Newcastle, Brighton, Brentford and Liverpool. Apart from Tottenham, the games they lost were by the odd goal.
‘This didn’t smack of a club in crisis. After Arsenal, eight of Palace’s 10 games to go are against sides in the relegation race.
‘So much has been made of the lack of shots – yet when they went to Brighton on Wednesday, they had 11 attempts.
‘Palace’s players were fighting for their manager and the board should have trusted Vieira to turn things around. Sadly, he will not get that chance.’
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