CRYSTAL Palace fan and Advertiser reporter ANDREW JAMESON on why, despite the blame game, we'll probably never know who's at fault in the Tony Pulis/Steve Parish fall-out...
It's a difficult one.
Now it would be very easy to lay all of the blame at the feet of Steve Parish. And in a situation where all we can go on is speculation - I don't think Parish will be apearing on Piers Morgan's Life Stories to talk about this anytime soon - it seems he will take the brunt of Palace fans' frustration.
It would be easy to back Parish to the hilt. While he is one of four owners, he is undeniably the driving force behind the club's relentless upward curve of the last four years. He is now the full-time chairman and Steve Browett has intimated on numerous occasions that the Tag founder runs the show.
Save for George Burley, he has largely made right decisions at every step along the way. For a start, he sacked Burley when it became apparent he was woefully short of what was required. He then took a chance on a young Dougie Freedman and, for a while, things looked rosy and the club enjoyed success. But after a run to a League Cup semi final and with Palace sitting pretty at the top of the Championship, Freedman walked and went to Bolton.
As is the irritating will of a portion of the Palace faithful, fans went off on one and slated Freedman till the cows came home. Never mind the man was probably in the top five club legends of all time, Our Dougie became a pariah. Rumours of Freedman being the lowest paid manager in the division didn't matter, the man shouldn't have walked because he was Palace.
But getting back to the crux of the matter, Parish replaced him with Holloway. Holloway didn't set the world alight in his time at Selhurst but he took the club up. You can't ask for much more. But crucially - and this is another one where we're really just guessing as to what happened - Holloway left when our Premier League campaign was looking doomed.
Then we waited. My God did we wait. At one of the more awkward press conferences in history at which Holloway announced his departure, Parish was asked about Pulis in front of Holloway. He replied that the former Stoke manager had never been relegated and said he sounded a good option.
But yet we waited a month. That month's wait is looking more and more significant every time I look at it. Whether Pulis didn't want the job or whether Parish wasn't keen - it doesn't matter, it was clear no one jumped at the move.
And now this. After a miracle turnaround which led to proper real actual pundits backing us to finish TWELFTH having only bought two players this summer, we have no manager.
Has Parish been obstructive? Comments from the man himself have suggested he's not an easy boss to work for. But then he speaks so much bloody sense in interviews, you can't help but admire the guy. If, as has been suggested, Pulis was miffed at missing out on players, then again, I'd say it's a difficult one.
It's very hard to have a go at Parish for protecting the financial security of the club, but with Pulis, it looked as if we'd struck gold. Maybe Pulis was unhappy with the way he'd been sold the job and its financial realities or maybe he took it as a stop gap. If he has, it's served as a hugely reputation-enhancing stop gap.
Parish will take more than a few hits after this. Four managers in four years isn't great - after all it's not a dissimilar record to that of the not much-missed Simon Jordan. (Incidentally, Jordan's defence of Parish after yesterday's events - given his derogatory comments about Parish in his book - may help the current Palace chairman more than he knows.)
I also doubt Pulis is clean as a whistle over this. What a horrible cliche this is, but it really does take two to tango. Did he ever take to the club really? And unless Parish really is a massive Jekyll and Hyde character - if Pulis has walked rather than been sacked, how much did he care?
But unless we get the truth, which from within a football club is unlikely, then it's hard to know who to back. As with Freedman's departure, we'll just have to keep guessing.