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Relegation dread heralds England’s New Year

Relegation dread heralds England’s New Year
A week ago, all 20 managers who had started the season were still in place, but two clubs approach the new year without a manager, while Newcastle United are poised to lose Alan Pardew.

Crystal Palace were the first club to press the panic button, firing Neil Warnock the day after a Boxing Day defeat at home to Southampton that saw the south London club slip into the relegation zone. Pardew is in line to return to Palace, where he spent four years as a player, after being given permission to speak to his former club by Newcastle. Palace visit Aston Villa on Thursday and Keith Millen, who has been placed in charge on a caretaker basis, has called on the club to appoint a successor to Warnock swiftly.

“You’d think that it would cause a lot of unrest among the players, but they have coped unbelievably well. But you wouldn’t want it to continue for weeks on end, because that’s when I think the lads want some guidance on where the club’s going. So hopefully this can get solved pretty quickly,” said Millen. Two days after Warnock’s sacking, West Bromwich Albion announced the dismissal of Alan Irvine following a return of one win from nine games that has left the Midlands club just a point above the bottom three.

West Brom, who have reportedly opened talks with Tony Pulis and Tim Sherwood, travel to West Ham United on Thursday. While Palace and West Brom are desperate for points, Newcastle are in a position of relative prosperity, having climbed to 10th place in the table after Sunday’s 3-2 win over Everton. But although many Newcastle fans will not mourn Pardew’s exit, they will be wary of a downturn in fortunes ahead of a home game against Burnley, who fought back to draw 2-2 at champions Manchester City last weekend.

With Pardew apparently heading for the exit, assistant coaches John Carver and Steve Stone will take charge for the match against Burnley. Bottom club Leicester City kickstarted their fight to beat the drop by winning 1-0 at Hull City on Sunday, which left them three points from safety.

Leicester visit improving Liverpool on Thursday, while Hull, who are above third-bottom Palace on goal difference alone, host out-of-form Everton. City’s slip-up against Burnley meant Chelsea preserved their three-point lead at the summit despite being held to a 1-1 draw at Southampton on Sunday.
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