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Crystal Palace legend left saddened by Holloway's departure
9:21am Friday 25th October 2013 in Crystal Palace FC
Shame: Former Palace legend Mark Bright was "saddened" by Ian Holloway's departure Picture: Tony Wood
By Andrew McSteen
Eagles’ scoring legend Mark Bright was introduced, alongside Ian Wright, onto the Selhurst Park pitch ahead of the Fulham game on Monday night as one half of the "greatest strike partnerships in Crystal Palace history".
What followed over the next 90 minutes was the last Palace fans would see of Ian Holloway, who left the post just over a week short of his first year anniversary.
Speaking at The Soho Hotel following the Steve Parish and Holloway press conference, where they announced their parting of ways, Bright was visibly upset at the quick turn of events.
“I’m saddened, I really am. Ian provided us with one of those magical days in Palaces’ history and I’ve been lucky to have a few of them," he said.
“Regardless of what anyone has said, he has shown a lot of dignity and respect.”
Those inside Selhurst Park on Monday at the final whistle would have seen a large number of people in the Holmesdale Stand rush to the players tunnel to berate the squad and manager at their performance, but Bright was adamant it did not have an effect.
The end is near: Steve Sidwell's volley beats Julian Speroni on Monday night, in what would be Holloway's final game in charge at Selhurst Park SP78366
“If they feel like they’ve got him out of his job I think they’re wrong,” said Bright who appeared more than 200 times for Palace in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
“He was honourable to go to the chairman and say ‘I don’t think I can do it’ and the chairman’s still got plenty of games and time to get someone in.
“I understand the fans frustration - don’t get me wrong, no one wants to go down but, you know what? Abusing the manager won’t help in any way.
“The fans have been brilliant this year but there are sections in all sets of fans and we’ve got a hardcore section - they get behind the team, they sing all through the game - the songs are fantastic.
“This season they’ve come in their numbers - the stadium’s full, the atmosphere is brilliant and so far the fans have been better than the players at the moment. So the players have got to match the fans' effort.”
Bright plays an integral part at Palace, working as an ambassador for both the club and CPFC Foundation and is close to the chairman, accompanying him on away games and helped introduce the former Blackpool manager to the Eagles’ culture.
“I feel sorry for Ian as I welcomed him to the club with open arms and I said to him ‘you’ll do well here’ and told him everything was set up for success - and it was,” said the 51-year-old.
“He goes around all the lounges before matches (at Selhurst). He takes questions to get everyone going and encourages all the fans to get behind the team.
“It’s sad that he hasn’t had a good 20-30 games to see if he could settle the team into the division and do well.
"It’s a loss - but the football club has been here a long time and will be here a long time when we’ve gone.”
Deadly duo: Ian Wright and Mark Bright are introduced to the Palace fans ahead of the Fulham match CR80282
Holloway’s former assistant manager, Croydon-born Keith Millen, takes over as caretaker manager and the former Selsdon Juniors player will lead Palace out to face Premier League leaders Arsenal in the lunchtime kick-off at Selhurst on Saturday.
Despite the odds being stacked against the home side, Bright believes that the change in manager could have a positive effect on the squad.
“You’ve seen plenty of times when there are managerial changes it can give the team a bit of a lift, a bit of an injection,” explained Bright.
“They’ll prepare as normal but sometimes it’s a little weight off of some players’ shoulders. Some players will get in the team who weren’t in the team.
“You have to prepare the best you can prepare and we saw that Arsenal are vulnerable (after losing in the Champions League at home this week).
"They can lose, but we need to try and get a result, being a draw or a win and you never know, take it from there.
So what would the Stoke-on-Trent-born Bright like to say to Holloway as he departs the Eagles and maybe even football management?
“I would like to say thanks to Ian for everything he has given to the club,” he said.
“It was a magical day at Wembley which culminated in getting back in the Premier League at the right time when the money went up.
“I would rather be struggling in the Premier League than top of the Championship and I think all the fans would too, so I thank him for everything he has done and wish him all the best for the future.”
And that's it: A frustrated Holloway would step down less than a year in charge SP78366
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