Belfast Telegraph

Turmoil at Crystal Palace as Tony Pulis quits on eve of big kick-off

By James Tate

The new Premier League season has not seen a ball kicked in anger yet – but a top-flight manager has already left his job. Tony Pulis – last season's Premier League Manager of the Year – has departed Crystal Palace by mutual consent.

Former Northern Ireland international and Celtic manager Neil Lennon is among the early front-runners to succeed 56-year-old Pulis, who led Palace to an impressive 11th place after taking over from Ian Holloway when the London club looked doomed to relegation.

Friction between the ex-Stoke boss and Palace chairman Steve Parish over transfer dealings prompted the exit.

Pulis is understood to have been frustrated by the failure to land a number of his transfer targets during the summer.

Assistant manager Keith Millen will be in temporary charge for tomorrow’s trip to Arsenal.

Bookmakers' odds had tumbled throughout the day as speculation over the Welshman’s job reached fever pitch.

The remainder of his coaching staff — including Gerry Francis and Dave Kemp — have been asked by the chairman to stay on for the Arsenal game.

It is no secret that Pulis wanted to assume greater control of all football matters at Selhurst Park — especially on the transfers front.

Speaking on Tuesday, Parish had insisted Pulis would have the determining say on transfer dealings.

He said: “It's up to the manager, the players we sign. It's not up to me. I'm there to help him get the squad he wants.”

Malky Mackay and Chris Hughton, along with Lennon and ex-Manchester United boss David Moyes, could be among the out-of-work managers who eye the vacancy.

While a cloud hung over the club, they still managed to announce the signing of Liverpool defender Martin Kelly on a three-year contract.

The 24-year-old made his Reds debut back in 2009 but found first-team opportunities limited, with a serious knee injury also ruling him out for a year.

Kelly, capped once by England in a 2012 friendly against Norway, becomes Palace’s fourth signing of the summer following the acquisitions of Chris Kettings, Fraizer Campbell and Brede Hangeland.

Confirming the move on their official website, the south London club wrote: “Crystal Palace are delighted to confirm the signing of versatile defender Martin Kelly from Liverpool.”

Kelly, a lifelong Liverpool fan, paid tribute to those who allowed him to play at Anfield and is looking forward to a fresh challenge.

“I’d like to thank all the managers at LFC for making my wish from the age of seven come true — playing for one of the biggest clubs in the world,” he tweeted.

“Most of all I would like to thank the fans for supporting me.

“Now to start a new chapter of my football career.”

Kelly also said he was looking forward to playing under Pulis, clearly unaware of the drama that was to follow.

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