This time last year Crystal Palace were in the midst of a seven game unbeaten run – a sequence that saw them hold eventual title winners Manchester City to a goalless draw, thrash Everton 4-0 in an FA Cup quarter-final and demolish this season’s champions-elect Arsenal 3-0.
Patrick Vieira was emerging as one of the most promising managers in the Premier League and Palace one of the most exciting teams in England.
Fast-forward 12 months and the team’s trajectory has – at best – plateaued. But, perhaps, more pertinently Vieira’s rise has come to a shuddering halt.
Palace are yet to win a single game in 2023 – a run of 11 matches. With a visit to Arsenal next up on Sunday that sorry stretch could well extend to 12.
As yet, there has been little external noise about the Frenchman’s future but Sportsmail understands the pressure inside Selhurst Park is mounting on the Palace boss.
Pressure is mounting on Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira amid an 11-game winless run
The Eagles lost 1-0 against Manchester City on Saturday to extend their streak without a win
The south London side are 12th in the table, but just three points above the relegation zone
And Sportsmail understands the pressure inside Selhurst Park is rising, with a growing sense that senior figures feel that improvement is needed – and quickly to avoid a relegation battle
Whether there is the appetite to ultimately part with Vieira is subject to a number of variables, but there is a growing sense that improvement is needed – and quickly.
Of course, the cut-throat nature of the Premier League dictates that most managers would find themselves under the microscope after 11 matches without victory. But Vieira has credit in the bank.
Last season may be a distant memory now but hasn’t been totally forgotten behind the scenes at Selhurst Park. It’s partly why the powers-that-be have stuck with Vieira. There is an acknowledgment that Palace may have over-achieved last season.
It would be unrealistic, maybe even unfair, to use the previous campaign’s successes as a yardstick to judge the team’s progress under Vieira in the present.
That said, how much longer can Vieira hold on without and upturn in results? The prospect of being dragged into a relegation fight could yet force the club into action.
Palace are 12th – but just three points adrift of the drop zone in what is gearing up to be one of the tightest battles against relegation in years.
The Palace hierarchy deserve credit for keeping faith – they have remained loyal to Vieira when other clubs would have reacted differently.
But Vieira must start repaying that faith amid a sense the team should be performing better than they currently are.
But fellow Premier League strugglers Southampton and Leeds found difficulty in appointing new managers after sacking Nathan Jones (left) and Jesse Marsch (right), respectively
The future of star player Wilfried Zaha is up in the air, with his contract expiring this summer
But working with the likes of Michael Olise and Ebere Eze still makes Palace an attractive club
Importantly, however, there appears little chance of Palace making a tough decision on Vieira’s future without having an achievable succession plan in place.
Southampton and Leeds both found difficulty in appointing new managers after disposing of Nathan Jones and Jesse Marsch, respectively; it’s a scenario Palace would be wise to avoid.
Indeed, there is not an obvious replacement for Vieira. Joining a club threatened by relegation for only a handful of fixtures is hardly the most tempting of assignments for would-be-replacements.
That said, any new manager would walk into a squad bursting with some of the best young players in the country, though the growing prospect of losing Wilfried Zaha – who is still widely recognised as the club’s best player – at the end of the season would likely be a consideration for any new boss.
Nevertheless, working with the likes of Marc Guehi, Tyrick Mitchell, Eberechi Eze and Michael Olise still makes Palace an attractive proposition for prospective new managers.
For now, though, Vieira will continue to be tasked with trying to steady a ship that is starting to rock uncontrollably.
Yet, even if he does make it through to the summer, you’d imagine there is a conversation to be had in May – particularly given Vieira’s contract expires at the end of next season.
If there isn’t any improvement soon, however, those conversations may well take place sooner than anticipated.