Crystal Palace have come a long, long way over the last ten years. In 2007, they played out a dour draw away at Scunthorpe, By the end of September 2017, they will have played Liverpool and both Manchester clubs, as they begin their fifth successive season in the Premier League.
From that squad back in 2007, only veteran goalkeeper Julian Speroni (now only a fringe player) remains. Neil Warnock has been replaced in the dugout with former Barcelona defender Frank De Boer, a 112-cap international for the Netherlands.
Since Warnock’s first spell at Selhurst Park, Ian Holloway, Tony Pulis, Alan Pardew, Sam Allardyce and Warnock again have all taken the reins and moved on, amongst others. It is the only mark on an otherwise remarkable rise up the football league.
The Eagles are now established in the top flight. In Christian Benteke they have a £27 million striker leading their attack, In Steve Mandanda they have a former Champions League goalkeeper.
This term established does not mean that they will not be relegated, it simply means their structure is now set up for the Premier League. Fans in South-East London will be the first to spout fears of relegation for the season ahead. Here, we take a deeper look into these concerns and dissect the season ahead.
Crystal Palace were in big trouble only months ago. As 2016 drew to a close, Alan Pardew was sacked as manager, following a hugely disappointing start to the season.
They seemed to be on an unstoppable slide towards relegation until Sam Allardyce came in and steadied the ship. Almost as influential as “Big Sam” was a January loan signing, Mamadou Sakho, from Liverpool.
The Eagles went on a four-game win streak, built largely upon their defensive stubbornness, and eventually finished in 14th place. When they confirmed their survival with a 4-0 win against Hull on May 14th, fans rejoiced. If you had to ask them which two individuals were most responsible for their survival, Allardyce and Sakho would be the only names you’d hear. Unfortunately for those fans, neither will be at Selhurst Park next season.
Allardyce left very soon after the season finished, in similar circumstances to Tony Pulis two years prior. Sakho returned to Liverpool and although he remains out of Jurgen Klopp’s plans, his price and wages make a permanent deal incredibly unlikely.
They have turned to Frank De Boer, a four time Eredivisie winner as a manager, whose most recent managerial spell ended sourly when he was sacked by Inter Milan after 85 days.
Former Ajax left back De Boer has no experience in English football, but a successful record overall as a manager suggests he could be up to the job.
He caused a stir in Milan when he changed their formation to have a back three in his first game. They subsequently lost 2-0 and he faced huge backlash for it, but if he brings the same self-belief to the Premier League and is allowed put his stamp on the team, fans should be confident of success.
After being appointed in late June, De Boer was quick to answer questions on his transfer plans, saying “I’ve not met the players yet. We will look at one or two signings, but I think it is necessary to see all the players here first.” He has clearly come with transfer targets in mind, whether those will be players he has previously managed remains to be seen.
What is not up for debate however, is that Sakho must be replaced. Remaining central defensive options for the Eagles are Damian Delaney, James Tomkins and Scott Dann. From those, Delaney is nearing the end of his career and Tomkins is unconvincing over a whole season.
Various news outlets have recently reported interest in Barcelona’s Thomas Vermaelen as a solution to this problem, though wages are again likely to be an issue.
De Boer has been with his crop of players for only a week, so news has understandably been quiet around Selhurst Park. However, it has been announced that Palace are set to sign Chelsea midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek on a season long loan.
Palace have also been linked with Joe Hart as he nears his Manchester City exit. De Boer will surely be looking to offload one of their current goalkeepers to justify the move and will likely soon look to offload others who he doesn’t see as part of his plans.
The Eagles are also rumoured to be preparing ambitious bids for Ajax defender Joel Veltman and young Barcelona forward Munir El Haddadi, though no deal is thought to be close.
Written by Sam Hanys.