Belfast Telegraph

Warnock sacking surprises Millen

Neil Warnock has become the Premier League's first managerial casualty of the season - a decision which surprised Keith Millen and means he is once again having to fill in as Crystal Palace's caretaker manager.

Just four months after beginning a second spell at the Selhurst Park helm, the 66-year-old was relieved of his duties having failed to carry on the stellar work done by predecessor Tony Pulis.

Palace fans turned on Warnock during the embarrassing 3-1 home defeat to Southampton on Boxing Day and the south London club's board wielded the axe the following morning.

It has seen Millen installed as caretaker for the third time in little more than a year, meaning he has the unenviable task of leading out the embattled Eagles against QPR on Sunday.

"It is not a nice position to be in again, I must admit," Millen said. "It was a surprise this morning.

"We have all been disappointed by yesterday's result but the first-half performance was decent.

"We're just not taking our chances at the moment, so we've come into work this morning and I get the phone call from the chairman.

"It has been a shock for us all, but we have got to try and be professional and try and concentrate on a massive game tomorrow."

Palace co-chairman Steve Parish felt he had no choice but to take the "unfortunate decision" to sack Warnock and informed him of that decision on Saturday morning.

Parish says Palace have not got anyone lined-up to come in and, while they "want it sorted out as soon as possible", confirmed Millen is likely to be in charge for the trip to the New Year's Day clash at Aston Villa in addition to the QPR match.

"Neil came in this morning and we had a quick chat," Millen said. "He cleared his desk and his stuff.

"It is always a sad time and it is very difficult for all of us, the staff, because he kept us here and we were part of his backroom staff.

"We're all disappointed but we have got to move on very quickly with this big game tomorrow."

Millen will need to ignore the background noise if he is succeed at Loftus Road, with speculation already mounting over Warnock's permanent successor.

Tim Sherwood is the bookmakers' favourite ahead of the likes of Alan Pardew, Tony Popovic and even Pulis, while Millen is as short as 5/1 to be given the reins on a full-time basis.

That is not something he is even contemplating right now, though, saying they have "got to let the dust settle a little bit" and fully focus on getting a result against QPR.

"I know this group of players and know what they're good at," Millen told Sky Sports News.

"We've got to try and remind them of that. We've got to go to QPR tomorrow and be up for the fight because that is what it is going to be.

"I am sure QPR will be ready for us and we've got to make sure our lot are ready.

"That's been our strength over the last few years. They're resilient and we're going to have to be tomorrow."

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