Up in the directors’ box, when the Crystal Palace co-chairman Steve Parish was not watching his players’ efforts on the field he was busy studying his mobile phone. Evidently, not a second can be wasted in the bid to solve the new manager conundrum. But as far as Keith Millen is concerned, the answer to Palace’s managerial vacuum may just be under Parish’s nose. The club stalwart caretaker made it clear he wants the job.
“I’d like to continue,” he said after Palace pushed Arsenal mighty close at the Emirates only to be vanquished by a stoppage-time goal. “I enjoy being in charge. I will speak to the chairman tomorrow. It has been a very quick last two days in terms of conversations. The chairman has not really spoken to me about his ideas going forward, we just spoke about this game. I am sure there will be more conversations. The players need to know what direction the club needs to go. Hopefully at the start of the week there will be some more answers.
“If the chairman thought it right for me I would sit down and talk to him about it. I like working at this club. I enjoy working with these players. They respect me in my decisions.”
There is a clear change in Millen’s stance compared to the last time he led Palace out against Arsenal in the aftermath of a traumatic departure (Ian Holloway’s last autumn). Then he gave the impression it was a once in a lifetime experience for him to manage in the Premier League.
He didn’t feel he had the knowhow then, but he does now. “The circumstances of last year – we’d had a really poor start, won one in 10 games – there was a lack of Premier League experience at the club. At the time I said I felt someone like Tony would give us that. That’s how it panned out. He controlled the whole club and gave us that belief we could compete in the Premier League. This time round this group of players have had that experience. They have got that confidence. As staff and as a club we have grown in the Premier League so the circumstances are different. Whether that is right for me to put my hat in the ring, I will speak to the chairman.”
With Parish also considering the likes of Tim Sherwood and Malky Mackay, Millen has competition. A quick resolution is key so they can put all their energy into bolstering the squad. “We know we need to strengthen, we’ve known that all summer,” said Millen. “Tony loved working with this group. We organised them, but we need more competition for places. That’s been the frustration.”