After 10 years with Palace, first team coach Ben Garner has left the club. FYP's Matt Woosnam previously sat down with him for the most recent issue of the fanzine, as he talked about his desire to become a manager one day.
How does it feel to be a young coach in a profession where arguably experience is important? Is there a case for experience and passion?
I think you have to have experience in any line of work to be successful - I know I'm relatively young at 34 but I've been coaching for 13 to 14 years so am experienced in my job. At CP I coached in the Academy for 7 seasons and this is now my 3rd season with the first team. In terms of the Academy I worked with a number of teams and coached a host of talented young players including Wilfried, Nathaniel, Sean, Victor, Jonny and many others. With the first team I achieved promotion via the play-off final at Wembley, finished 11th in the PL, and now am working hard to make sure that we stay there again. Alongside this I have always been very dedicated and have made sacrifices in terms of prioritising my career. I have always known where I want to get to so have been extremely focused. Although I didn’t have a significant playing career I always had that love for the game and as I was an intelligent player my game understanding was always there which is important. My life has been dedicated to studying the game and gaining as much knowledge as I can.
What did you do before you came to Palace?
After fracturing and dislocating my ankle I went to university and studied sport and exercise science. I instantly knew that I wanted to coach and already had my Level 2 qualification so I went on to obtain the UEFA B qualification and started to build my coaching hours. I coached two junior sides at Chipstead FC, worked in development centres and schools for Fulham FC, coached in America for 6 months for MLS, and ran my own soccer school. A friend talked me out of playing retirement so I played for a couple of years down at Sutton United and did some coaching there as well but when I began to get the onset of arthritis in the ankle joint I retired for good at 25. I had been given a job as head of boys’ p.e. at St. David’s College and combined this with the Under 11 Academy team at CP when I was offered that job.
You were the head coach at the Oasis School Partnership, when the under-15s were named national champions and a lot of those are Palace related -- because it's obviously the partnership between the club and Oasis - quite a few of those are still at the club. Was that a proud moment for you?
I had a blank canvas when that scheme was set up and I was able to design the scheme how I wanted, how we coached and what we did on certain days - it was fantastic to do that and to really do what I thought was right with those young players. The extra contact time with them was invaluable. They did fantastically well, played some great football that year and won the national school title. It was a good scheme, it's still going now, and we've got a lot of players now full-time at the club through that scheme - it has gone well and hopefully will for many years to come.
How important is it for these kids to have a school where they can be challenged academically and in football? Is that important?
You have to have extra contact time now - when you look at European counterparts and they contact time they had with their players, we were behind and had to catch up in that respect. But it's not about how much time you have, it's about what you do with that time. The coaching has to be spot-on - you have to make sure that you're really maximising the target and cementing the educational side of things - that's just as important. The drop-out rate in professional football is so high that it's important that these boys get an education alongside that.
Do you see yourself as a manager someday?
Yes I do. From when I first started coaching my ambition has always been to manage. I'm really happy in the role I'm in at the moment - I love the club and the manager is fantastic to work for. Im learning and progressing all the time but in the future, if the right opportunity presented itself, then I'd love to take it. But with my lack of playing background, it becomes more difficult to get jobs - so I've always taken the stance that I've always got to prepare myself for that opportunity so, so well because I've got to take it when it comes around and I need to be instantly successful
You're no longer involved in the youth team - is it a good thing that you're a link between them and the first team?
The bottom line is that it's always down to the players. Me being with the first team isn't going to help - they don't have a god-given right to be in the first team at this club or any club - they're going to have to work extremely hard to get into the first team at a Premier League club - it's more difficult than it is at a Championship club. They'll have to raise their standards and improve further still. Perhaps go out and gain experience in the Football League to get themselves closer. I look at some players and I was always hard on them in terms of dedication and I look at some of the younger players now and I don't think they quite grasp the sacrifices and dedication they're going to have to make and how they're going to have to be to force themselves into the squad, let alone the team.
First team vs Youth
With first team players it’s about an outcome, it’s about the result. It’s more team based, the group is important more than individual, about achieving a result, winning football matches and how you coach and prepare that is very different. I’ve always had an ambition to do that. It’s about developing players, especially U14, U15 it’s about developing payers within a team setting and the understanding of their game, their technique and physically as well it’s about coaching an individual. You’re trying to get a lot more info across to young payers. At senior level players have a fantastic understanding of the game and its embedded in tactics and the style of play to achieve a result. Everyone is unique in terms of their personality and with anything in life you’ve got to be committed to a certain part of it has to be natural. You have to be good at something then it’s your dedication your passion and learning that pushes you on. Coaching came naturally to me. I enjoyed it straight away, felt that I had a natural ability for it, and built an instant rapport with the players.
On Alan Pardew:
He is very clear on what he wants and I think that is the sign of a great manager, there’s no grey areas, in and out of possession off and on the pitch, he knows what he wantas from the cteam from the club and if you’re ever gonna take a club forward it’s important to klnow where you’re doing. He strikes me as knowing that and where he’s gonna take it.
Palace could be on the verge of the signing of the summer with Steve Parish admitting they are in talks to sign Yohan Cabaye.
The former Newcastle star is at PSG but wants more regular games and, if reports are to to be believed, also wants to be reunited (and it feels so good) with Alan Pardew.
And Palace fans, understandably, are verrrrrry excited about the possibility of the France international joining.
xIt would be a HUGE statement of intent for the Eagles to push on and build on last season's 10th spot finish.
Here's the best Twitter reactions to Cabaye inching closer to a move to Selhurst.
Palace co-Chairman Steve Parish has confirmed that the club are actively negotiating for Yohann Cabaye.
In a sign of Crystal Palace showing genuine intent this summer, Palace co-chairman Steve Parish confirmed to TalkSport that the club are interested in Yohan Cabaye and are working towards getting a deal agreed, saying: "We would like to sign Cabaye, we are working on it," when asked about the possibility of signing the Paris Saint-Germain midfielder.
Parish has previously been coy about potential moves, so the release of even the smallest of snippets suggests that the deal might be closer than originally thought.
He also used the opportunity to discuss the OFCOM challenge to the Premier League's rights deal, with the suggestion being that the organisation could be forced to sell individual games rather than packages, a move that wouldn't be popular with him.
There was also some brief discussions about the club's plans, with Parish indicating that the training ground is being upgraded and that the future development of the stadium could be reliant on next season's Premier League income.
We'll see how the next week pans out - but the Cabaye news is sure to get pulses in South London racing.
Sky Sports and BT Sport have announced the first batch of TV fixtures, and it sees Palace televised three times up until the end of September.
Palace's home match with Arsenal which was scheduled for Saturday August 15 3pm has been moved back a day to Sunday August 16, and will now kick off at 1.30pm, being shown on Sky Sports.
The Eagles' trip to north London to play Arsenal's rivals Tottenham has also been moved from Saturday 19 September 3pm to Sunday 20 September 1.30pm and will be shown live on Sky Sports.
The final fixture of Palace's to be changed in the first batch of TV games is the trip to newly promoted side Watford which will be on Sunday 27 September at 4pm and live on Sky Sports.
For the full list of fixtures for Palace's third season in the Premier League click here.
Need some Palace chat in your life? Of course you do! And fear not, because the FYP summer podcast is here!
With no domestic football to chat about, Jim, Andy, Kevin and James instead try to work out their combined 1990/2015 XI.
And it proves tough!
So join them for over an hour of summer chat.
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Former Liverpool club doctor Zafar Iqbal has joined Crystal Palace, he has confirmed to BBC Asian Network.
With the training ground at Beckenham being refurbished, this appears to be a step in the right direction with recruiting non-playing staff and improving facilities.
A club statement from Liverpool in January stated that Iqbal had left because of "personal family reasons", which he has revealed were related to the ill health of his son who lived in London.
"Unfortunately my son has been unwell, and so as a result of that my wife and kids were based in London. That meant that although I had my dream job working at Liverpool, I was commuting back and forth, which was fine for the first couple of years.
"In 2012 I became head of the department, and with that came added responsibilities, so I had less time to actually get back to London
"Something had to give, I had a great time up in Liverpool, but as anyone will tell you family wins every time, and I had to get back to London."
He says he is keen to begin work in London with Palace.
"I’m really looking forward to it. Crystal Palace are a fantastic club, they are based in London, which was really important for me."
He spent four-and-a-half years with the Reds and has now been appointed at Palace.
At Liverpool his duties were to perform medicals on new signings and he was responsible for the treatment of all players.
Iqbal began his medical career in football as team doctor at Leyton Orient, before moving to working with Tottenham's Academy and becoming first-team doctor i
He has previously held the position of Chairman of the FA Medical Society.
No news on previous Palace medic Dr Bill Jasper, who had been at the club for some time, but everyone at FYP wishes him the best if he has left the Eagles.
Included in that was the news that talented young winger Aaron Bissaka has signed a three-year professional contract with the club.
The 17-year-old first year scholar was a key part of Richard Shaw's Under 16 side before being promoted to the U18s last year, where he made an impact in several different positions.
He spent most of his time competing with Elliot List, Andre Coker and Levi Lumeka for a spot on the left wing, and with his pace and good passing range he showed considerable ability.
After doing well in the U18 side, he was promoted to Gary Issott's U21 squad, where he made three appearances and scored one goal.
He made a total of 25 appearances for the U18s last season and scored four times.
Development players Jake Gray and Ryan Inniss have both signed new contracts with the Crystal Palace, the club confirmed on Thursday.
Both highly rated, they will extend their stay at Selhurst Park for another two years after bagging contracts with their previous deals close to expiry.
Gray joined the club from Wycombe Wanderers aged 16 and burst onto the scene with a superb performance against Liverpool in an U18 league match, while he also made his first team debut last season in the Capital One Cup victory over Walsall before appearing again in the following round's defeat by Newcastle, coming on as a late second half substitute and impressing greatly.
He has been instrumental in the Under 21 side's title-winning efforts last season, and has become a central figure in Gary Issott's plans.
The 19-year-old winger took part in last season's tour of the USA and Austria, with Tony Pulis seeing plenty of talent in him.
A loan spell to Cheltenham was relatively successful earlier this year, but with a change in manager, he was unable to spend more than a month at the club. Nonetheless, he managed to grab an assist on his debut.
Inniss has been with the club from a young age, and was courted by Manchester City as a 15-year-old, but Palace were able to reward him with a three-year professional contract which began on his 17th birthday, and he has now been given another three-year deal after that contract expired.
He has represented England in the Victory Shield at Under 16 level, but since then has not made any in-roads into the international scene.
Inniss gained experience in the Football League with Cheltenham, Luton, Gillingham and Yeovil, before making an impressive impact at Port Vale last season.
Injury curtailed his loan spell with the Valiants, and they were keen to sign him permanently, but were put off by the £600,000 asking price.
It is likely that Inniss will re-join on a season-long loan next season, with the old-school centre back looking to put injury problems behind him and again show the form that has made him almost indispensible to Port Vale.