It's deja vu for former Inter Milan boss Frank de Boer at Crystal Palace

Chloe Beresford by Chloe Beresford / 30 August 2017, 14:14

At just three games in and already feeling the heat, Crystal Palace boss Frank de Boer must be feeling a sense of deja vu. Just two weeks before the 2016/17 Serie A season commenced, the Dutchman replaced Roberto Mancini as Inter boss, but was then fired by the Nerazzurri after just 14 games.

The mitigating factors surrounding his sacking in Italy made it seem like his Premier League debut would not be so ill-fated but, with rumours swirling that Roy Hodgson is being lined up to take his place, he has commenced in exactly the same way as he finished at San Siro last November.

Three defeats from three against newly-promoted Huddersfield, Liverpool and Swansea - coupled with his final spell at Inter - mean that the former Ajax boss has accumulated seven defeats in his last eight league matches overall. That stat makes for concerning reading for Palace fans, as those looking on have accused the tactician of failing to transmit clear ideas of what is expected to his players.

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Revisiting his short spell with the San Siro giants reveals an interesting parallel, the 47-year-old having achieved just four points in his opening three matches. That return came via a win against Pescara, a team that finished the campaign with just 15 points in total, and a draw with Palermo. Both those teams were eventually relegated to Serie B, whilst Nerazzurri fans were left disheartened by losses to Chievo and minnows Hapoel Beer Sheva in the Europa League.

Let’s not forget that Inter had spent over ¤150 million on transfers that summer but - just as the pressure was on - the Coach gave himself some breathing space. A sublime performance in the Derby d’Italia at home to Juventus saw De Boer’s side pull off a surprising 2-1 victory over the five-time champions. His 4-2-3-1 system was an early example of Massimiliano Allegri’s 3-5-2 being outplayed, and the Juve boss would himself switch to that same 4-2-3-1 later on in the campaign.

After victory over Empoli in the next match it seemed as though the poor start was simply down to De Boer’s late appointment, but alas for those Inter fans it was simply not meant to be. Defeats to Roma, Atalanta, Cagliari and Sampdoria - as well as an exit from the Europa League at the group stage - saw the Coach removed from his position on November 1st, but many believed he had not been given enough time.

Inter of course had not seen success since the treble-winning season of 2010 under Jose Mourinho. Fans lamented five years wasted under previous owner Erick Thohir and have lacked strong leadership since those glory days under the Portuguese boss. Money has been wasted on lacklustre signings, and it has only been since the Suning group purchased the club in summer 2016 that the ship has started to stabilise.

After he was fired De Boer lamented to the Daily Mail:

“At Inter I had to deal with so many things away from football, you lose energy. Every time you thought, ‘Finally, a good result, everything has calmed down,’ then comes [controversy over] Mauro Icardi's book or Marcelo Brozovic is in the discotheque and you have to punish him. We only had three months but honestly, it felt like a year.”

These controversies leading up to his sacking were cited as extenuating circumstances and a similar theory of not being given long enough could also be quoted if Crystal Palace do indeed sack De Boer so early on. But there is a common theme that should be worrying to supporters at Selhurst Park. The aforementioned lack of ability to convey clear ideas to players was also a definite problem at Inter, and was put down to a language gap at the time.

"Now that we have an Italian Coach I have realised that one of the difficulties in the previous regime was the language barrier,” Portugal international Joao Mario told Italian newspaper Tuttosport. “In fact, maybe it was the main problem. De Boer had good ideas, but he failed to transmit them to the team.”

The Coach may have changed from four at the back to three in the Premier League, but the same issues remain. Palace may well give him more time, but if Frank De Boer lacks the ability to make players dance to his tune, it may make little difference.

Managers Departed

Last man down

Phil Parkinson
Phil Parkinson
(Bolton Wanderers)
21st August