His whole-hearted, tigerish performances in the middle of the park won the hearts and minds of the Sheffield Wednesday faithful.
The word “great” is overused in sport, but Carlton Palmer earned that tag after five years of fine service at Hillsborough.
He played more than 200 times for the Owls between 1989 and 1994, dovetailing effectively with another great, John Sheridan, in the centre.
Palmer’s second spell may not have been as successful, but he is still remembered very fondly by Wednesdayites.
What you see with Palmer is what you get. He is a big character and an opinionated person who cares passionately about football, particularly Wednesday. He is desperate to see the club end their 15-year top-flight exile.
But Palmer has expressed his concerns over Carlos Carvalhal’s appointment as head coach and reckons there are potentially too many voices involved in the decision-making process behind the scenes.
It was nearly three months ago Owls chairman Dejphon Chansiri set-up a three-man sporting director by committee. That three-man taskforce has changed considerably and now consists of former Newcastle United and West Ham United boss Glenn Roeder, Paul Senior and Jonathan Hill. It is thought Carvalhal will work closely with the trio and have some input in their summer recruitment drive.
On the committee system, Palmer said: “There is a real danger that there are too many cooks.
“I don’t disagree with the director of sports role but a lot of manager nowadays want to deal only with the first team and what’s going on with them so they don’t want to speak to agents. But you don’t need as many people as Wednesday have put together to do the jobs.
“To be successful, they need everyone singing from the same hymnsheet and I don’t know how that’s going to be possible with so many people involved. I just can’t see it.
“There are too many people with their own agendas and I think it’s going to be a problem.
“I don’t understand it (the committee) and it all seems a bit ‘jobs for the boys’.
“It should be the manager who is identifying the players that he wants and he should be relaying that back to his chairman or his director of sport, and then it should be left up to them to negotiate the deal.
“At Chelsea, José Mourinho identifies the players he wants and leaves it to Chelsea to go and get the player. It’s as simple as that.”
Compatriots Joao Mario, Joao Cunha and Bruno Lage have already been named among Carvalhal’s backroom staff.
After failing to persuade Swindon Town manager Mark Cooper to work alongside Carvalhal, Wednesday remain on the look-out for a British coach. They have been linked with a move for former Liverpool coach Mike Marsh.
“It’s going to be difficult because people don’t know him [Carvalhal] so they are not going to put their reputations on the line to go and work with him,” said Palmer.
“It seems to me that the club are trying to choose an assistant manager for someone they have brought in as a head coach.
“If I went in as a head coach, I would want to bring in my own staff and have my own methods.
“I would want to work in a certain way and employ someone who understands me.
“I could be wrong, but the vibes that are coming out of the club are not good at the moment.”
What repeatedly let Wednesday down last year and robbed them of the opportunity of competing for a top-six spot was their lack of goals and inability to make Hillsborough a place opponents feared travelling to.
They finished 18 points adrift of the top-six positions, and Palmer – speaking before Friday’s arrival of Jack Hunt – reckons the Owls must spend big to close the gap.
“The Championship is a really hard league to get out of and you’ve got to have some serious money to do well,” he said.
“Look at Bournemouth last year. Eddie Howe has done a good job but they had the biggest wage bill in that division.
“Sheffield Wednesday have got no where near the highest wage bill in the league so the chairman is certainly going to have to start putting his money where his mouth is.
“When he says he wants promotion within two seasons, he’s going to have to back that up with signings.
“They finished 18 points off the pace with Stuart Gray so that’s still a lot of points to make up.
“So far, they have signed two foreign players, but not signed anybody of note.
“They have got to sign players of pedigree. That’s what it is all about. You are not going to get promoted if you haven’t got that quality.
“If they are going to have any chance of getting promoted, they need somebody up front. You have got to get 50 to 60 goals from your front players, and to do that it’s going to cost you big money.”
One of Palmer’s former Wednesday teammates, Nigel Pearson, was sacked as Leicester City manager last week. The former Owls captain guided the Foxes to a 14th-placed finish in the Premier League last term, but the club’s hierarchy decided to dispense with his services, citing “fundamental differences in perspective” between him and the board.
Palmer said: “I am disappointed and gutted for Nigel. I know him really well and he is a good friend of mine.
“Leicester have got a lot of ordinary players but they ran through brick walls for Nigel. He performed miracles.
“For me, Leicester and West Ham have put themselves in trouble for next season by getting rid of Nigel and Sam Allardyce.”