Joel Ward admits Palace squad were 'surprised' by Vieira sacking

Joel Ward admits Crystal Palace players were ‘surprised and disappointed’ by Patrick Vieira’s sacking and admits they must be ‘accountable’ for performances on the pitch after Arsenal hammering

  • Vieira was sacked by Palace on Friday with the club in a relegation battle
  • Palace then lost 4-1 to Arsenal in their first game without the Frenchman
  • The club have not ruled out appointing Roy Hodgson as a replacement 

Joel Ward says Crystal Palace’s players were left surprised and disappointed following the sacking of Patrick Vieira.

Vieira was dismissed last week, following a run of 12 matches without a win and four games without a goal – which left Palace looking over their shoulder.

Interim boss Paddy McCarthy took charge of Sunday’s 4-1 defeat at Premier League leaders Arsenal, which leaves them three points above the relegation zone.

‘Anything like that comes as a bit of a surprise,’ Ward said of Vieira’s departure.

‘The tough thing in football is that it’s a results business and we had a tough run of games and the hierarchy have made the decision about the direction they want to go and we have to respect that and make sure as a club right from the top, fans to players, we all get together and take care of business.

Joe Ward has revealed that Crystal Palace players were left ‘surprised and disappointed’ with the sacking of Patrick Vieira

Vieira was let go by Palace on Friday after a string of poor results and performances

‘Ultimately we’re the only ones that can do that on the pitch so we have to stand up and be accountable for that.’

Ward added: ‘It’s a side of the game that no-one really likes to see. It’s not a nice thing to happen in any industry. But we have to rebound from that. I’m sure he will go on to do great things in his next chapter. The club and players have the utmost respect for him. The way he applied himself and how he went about his day to day business, it’s disappointing.

‘But we now have to focus on retaining our Premier League status and that’s the bottom line. We have to stick together and make sure we go out there and do the business.’

Ward was back in the side on Sunday but couldn’t help his team survive defeat

As revealed by Sportsmail, Palace are not discounting a shock return to the club for former boss Roy Hodgson.

Ward would not be drawn on a possible reunion with the 75-year-old, who spent four years at Palace before retiring and being replaced by Vieira in 2021.

‘I can’t comment on that. I’m not sure what the situation is, but whoever it is they choose, I know the players will get behind and give 100 percent, Ward said.

When asked if a new boss needed to be appointed during this international break, the 33-year-old added: ‘That’s not for me to comment on. We’re focused on the pitch. Whatever happens between now and then will be what it will be.’

Palace haven’t ruled out appointing former manager Roy Hodgson for another stint in charge

Instead, the defender said, the Palace squad had to concentrate on a pivotal run after the international break when they will face relegation rivals Leicester, Leeds, Southampton, Everton, Wolves, West Ham and Bournemouth over their next eight matches.

‘We now have to dust ourselves down and focus on what is a massive month in April,’ Ward said.

‘The fixtures speak for themselves. We’ve been up against some top quality sides and I think we’ve been hard done by at times. There were times when we haven’t necessarily helped ourselves but it’s all about togetherness and resilience. In adversity is when the true character of the group will come out.

‘We have more than enough big strong leaders in the group that can do the business and we have an attacking threat that can hurt any team in the league. We’ve proved that over the last 18 months and prior to that. We need to get ourselves up for it and the bare minimum is to do the basics and make sure we come out on top… we need to make sure we stick together and keep pushing forward. We have to go out with our heads held high and leave everything out on that pitch.’

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