Did Pulis quit Palace over Zaha and will it mean more sackings?
The manager of the year is out of work, which could spell trouble for Allardyce and Lambert
Crystal Palace have been installed as favourites for relegation after the abrupt departure of manager Tony Pulis, hours before the start of the new Premier League season.
The former Stoke boss, whose heroics at Selhurst Park last season saved the Eagles from the drop and earned him the manager of the year award, walked away from the club after a showdown with Palace co-chairman Steve Parish.
The pair have not seen eye to eye during most of Pulis's short-lived reign at the club, clashing over transfer policy and the role of sporting director Ian Moody.
The Daily Mirror claims a row over the possible signing of Wilfried Zaha triggered the walkout. The former Palace winger was expected to rejoin the Eagles on loan from Manchester United for the season, but when it became clear he was available on a permanent basis Pulis was ordered to cool his interest in Sunderland striker Connor Wickham, who he had hoped to sign for £8m, says the paper.
"Pulis's departure after only ten months with the London club was described as by 'mutual consent' but well-placed sources have confirmed that mutual contempt would be a more fitting term because of the friction between the two men, stretching back to the turn of the year," says The Guardian.
The news is a "grievous blow" to Palace's chances of survival this season, adds the paper. When Pulis arrived, in November last year, Palace had won only one of their first 11 fixtures and were rooted to the bottom of the table. Somehow he guided them to an 11th place finish.
Former Cardiff manager Malky Mackay has been installed as the favourite to replace Pulis. Steve Clarke and Neil Lennon are also being tipped by bookies.
However, most punters are more interested in Palace's relegation prospects than their next manager. Their odds have suddenly shortened to less than 2/1 since Pulis quit. Prior to his departure they were not regarded as serious candidates for the drop.
Incredibly, Pulis is not the first managerial casualty of the season. Huddersfield parted ways with manager Mark Robins after the first round of Championship games last weekend.
His departure could cause unease among other top flight managers. Chairmen at other clubs expected to struggle this season may see Pulis, who has never been relegated, as a better bet than the current incumbent.
West Ham boss Sam Allardyce, unpopular with fans at Upton Park, is favourite for the chop, according to website The Sack Race. Others who might be concerned about Pulis taking their place in the dug out are Paul Lambert of Aston Villa and West Brom boss Alan Irvine. Gary Monk at Swansea City will also be anxious not to start the season badly.