With this wave of optimism, is disaster just around the corner; or have CPFC2010 finally broken the Palace mould, asks Neil Peters.
With promotion and back to back mid-table finishes in the last three seasons, Crystal Palace appear to be on an upward trajectory. The return of prodigal son Wilfried Zaha, the rise to prominence of bargain buys such as Yannick Bolasie and a proper manager, one of our own in Super Al, splashing the cash on proven international talent in Yohann Cabaye, optimism has never been higher. Ian Wright is saying that we’ll win a cup and Pardew quoted as saying that we can beat anyone outside the top 5.
So disaster is just around the corner, right?
Every Palace fan that has followed the club for more than 5 years know that every minor high is followed by a spectacular fall from grace.
The “Team of the 80s”, promoted in ‘79 was relegated in ’81.
The first Steve Coppell team of Wright, Bright and Thomas got promoted in ’89, got to the cup final, then won the Zenith Cup and finished 3rd in 1991. By 1993 the team packed full of England international was broken up and relegated.
Even more recently Neil Warnock took Palace into the play-offs in 2008. By 2009-10 the club was plunged into administration. We sold star players Jose Fonte and Victor Moses to keep the coffers ticking over, deducted 10 points and the club survived a history ending relegation by the skin of its teeth.
Enter CPFC2010; the consortium lead by Steve Parish took the club out of administration and into a new era. There were problems, of course; but something had changed. Every time the club hit the buffers, instead of being derailed, they improved.
The first managerial appointment was George Burley but by Christmas we were flirting with relegation. Dougie Freedman was promoted to manager, kept the club up and the following season stabilised the league position. Then in 2012-13 season, the team exploded out of the blocks, racing to the top of the league, things could not be better. But inexplicably in October, club hero Freedman walked out on the club where he was loved to join Bolton Wanderers.
The next 4 managerial appointments follow a similar pattern:
Holloway took the club up and then seemed to have a complete meltdown and resigned a year to the day after Freedman left, leaving the club rock bottom of the Premier League.
Pulis, a Premier League miracle worker defied all belief and took the team from 20th to 11th in 6 months.
We thought we’d found our long term manager at last, but Pulis walked out in spectacular style on the eve of 2014/15 season. This should have derailed the club, but Neil Warnock came in as a steadying hand before Alan Pardew took over the reins and lead the club to our highest league position for the best part of a quarter of a century.
So what next for Palace? I don’t think we’ve had 3 good seasons in a row since I’ve supported them, let alone 4. My instinct is that disaster will strike, Pardew will walk out, Bolasie will be sold to Spurs and Cabaye will be an injury prone flop.
But maybe, just maybe, Mr Parish and Co, having asked Palace fans to stop thinking like Palace fans may have hit on a winning formula.
Should Palace make room for Punch or will his position be in direct competition with Cabaye? How will Cabaye fit into the squad? Michael Brockman tries to work it out.
In an incredibly successful 2014/15 season for Palace, Jason Puncheon stood out as a player who made the difference in many matches. Whether it was his threat from set pieces, his licence to shoot from distance, or his fantastic close control in offensive areas, 'Punch' was arguably the most technically gifted player in the squad, and would regularly be the focal point of our attacking play.
Under the guidance of Alan Pardew, Puncheon moved from the wing and became a free spirit in the centre of the park. Being able to provide the link from midfield to attack, feeding Yannick Bolasie and Wilfried Zaha with his decisive passing, Puncheon allowed us to become an incredibly threatening team on the counter attack. He was also a huge threat from both indirect and direct free kicks- just ask David de Gea and Joe Hart! The qualities Puncheon brought to the team last season were vital in our success, which is why he will surely be one of the first names on the team sheet for the 2015/16 season.
With the arrival of Yohan Cabaye this summer, speculation has been rife over where the French international will play in the midfield. After watching some of our pre-season games, it appears that Pardew could be considering Cabaye in Puncheon's role from last season- just behind the striker. With the impossible notion of leaving a player of the calibre of club record signing Cabaye out of the starting XI, could this mean Puncheon's position is now under threat? Or does Pardew envisage a different game plan to keep both players in the team? Below are three different ideas which could make the latter option possible.
Firstly, playing Cabaye in the hole and Puncheon on the wing. While this could arguably limit Puncheon's creativity, let's not forget he did play this role to great effect while Bolasie was away at AFCON. This may mean a place on the bench for Zaha, who has proven to be an effective impact substitute in the past.
Secondly, playing Cabaye deeper- as he does on the international scene- with Puncheon in front of him in the attacking midfielder role. This really could bring out the best in both players, and certainly shows a quality core running through the middle of our XI.
Or thirdly, the two could be used as central midfielders with a licence to roam- along with the more physical Mile Jedinak playing just behind them shielding the defence- a (slightly) poor man's Xavi and Iniesta if you will.
With the obvious versatility of both players, it does seem as if we can implement different game plans depending on the opposition we are facing- so I don't necessarily think that Puncheon and Cabaye will have set roles in the team. One thing is for sure though- the thought of having these two technically gifted footballers in the same starting XI will bring music to all Palace fans' ears, and will provide a lot of excitement in the build up to the season.
Can the England U21 striker do the business for Palace? Boro blogger and freelance writer Tom Etherington explains what we're in for.
There were mixed feelings across Teesside last week as Boro’s hopes of signing Patrick Bamford for another season were ended by Crystal Palace.
It was always going to be a longshot, after the highly-rated striker set the Championship alight and deservedly picked up the Player of the Year Award, but the fans and club still held out some hope.
Bamford scored 17 goals in 32 appearances en route to the Play-Off final, and even though Boro fell at the final hurdle, it was already apparent that the 21-year-old was ready to play Premier League football next season.
Despite the disappointment, I’m confident most of those associated with Boro will agree that Crystal Palace is the right step for Bamford’s progression, following previous spells in League One with MK Dons and Derby County in the Championship. But what can the Eagles expect from him in the Premier League?
Following his drawn-out arrival from Chelsea in August, Bamford didn’t actually get off to the best of starts at the Riverside, regularly being named on the bench and going three games without a goal. The England youngster quickly became frustrated and actually had words with boss Aitor Karanka about the squad rotation policy, which led to him being handed his first start at home to Brentford.
The opportunity proved to be fruitful as Bamford netted in an emphatic 4-0 win and went on to grab a last-minute equaliser against Liverpool in the Capital One Cup just a few days later.
One of Bamford’s biggest problems though is inconsistency. Following the heroics at Anfield, he went five games without finding the net, then scored six goals in seven to help Boro remain unbeaten in November and December, before leaving it another 6 games to score again.
It was this sort of form that left some fans unconvinced, but Bamford’s saving grace was being able to score when it really mattered. He popped up with four crucial equalisers and opened the scoring in nine Boro wins throughout the season, against Rotherham, Norwich, Cardiff, Manchester City, Charlton, Millwall, Wigan and twice against his former club Derby.
Alan Pardew will need to learn when he can get the best out of Bamford, whether that is part of his starting eleven or a second-half substitute, but that will come as the season progresses. His first concern should be where to actually play Bamford on the pitch. The forward regularly played out of his natural position under Karanka, starting on the right of a front three 14 times and on the left five times, which makes his goal scoring record even more impressive. But there is no doubt that Bamford is suited to the central role, and with Glenn Murray, Dwight Gayle and Fraizer Campbell to contend with at Selhurst Park, he may need to make the most of his versatility.
It will also be interesting to see how Bamford handles the physicality of the Premier League as he can be a little lightweight at times and struggled with a persistent ankle injury during the final few games of last season, including the Play-Off Semi-finals and Final.
To be fair to him though, Bamford played through the pain and still managed to give 100%. And when he is at full capacity, there are very few strikers with vision, pace, composure and finishing that could match his.
Boro are desperately searching for a striker of similar calibre to Bamford ahead of next season, with Jordan Rhodes the likely replacement, but I know for certain that the Chelsea loanee will be missed both on and off the pitch next season. Good luck to both Patrick and Palace.
The issue of loyalty points has raised its head this week, following a formal announcement by the club. Given it affects so many fans and has already created some strong reactions, we think it important that we at FYP take a stance on the matter. In short, we disagree with the loyalty points system in its current incarnation.
Crystal Palace fans are a varied bunch - we have a great deal of supporters far and wide, some who go to a single game a season, some who have home season tickets, others who go to both intermitently, and the hardcore element whose support is heard at every single match, whether near or far. We also have fans who have flown the south London nest who are every bit as ardent in their Palace obsession as many of us who are still able to make the regular pilgrimage to SE25.
There is no grade system when it comes to support - we are all loyal in our own ways - and that fact should be cherished and promoted. It shouldn't have a value imposed on it.
And this is where the problem with loyalty points lies. It does put a value on support - and it does so in a way that puts an emphasis on rewarding those who spend money at home games with points that could quite easily amount to more than the points you can get from travelling to somewhere as far-flung as Sunderland or Carlisle. That the scheme is equated, by its name, with loyalty will only serve to rub salt in the wounds of many fans annoyed at its points structure.
The cost of travelling to away games - to provide that little corner of noise, the kind that is often heard filling the stadium - will now often be disproportionate in comparison to the loyalty points awarded under the new scheme. What value is your dedication to travelling to away games, if a fan at Selhurst can make the same points with a £40 spend at Selhurst Park.
Some of us travelled to Newcastle last season - our total spend was in excess of £100. Some of the talk of fans buying sufficient merchandise to outscore ardent away fans on loyalty points may be slightly exaggerated. But the principle that spend in the club shop may, in some circumstances under the new scheme, hold greater value than time, effort and hardcore dedication in attending Palace games far and wide is unsatisfactory.
We see no reason why the purchase of tickets and season tickets cannot be separated from the spend on a matchday - with tickets and season tickets contributing towards future ticket purchases, and merchandise and concession purchases contributing to further merchandise rewards.
That way those fans who support Palace from afar can be rewarded for their own type of dedication in the right way, while those fans that travel far and wide will continue to get the access to away tickets that they deserve.
We call on Palace to review it's stance on the matter and to consult with supporters on how the system can be improved.
With Palace having announced the signing of QPR goalkeeper Alex McCarthy, Dan Wimbush from the Tilehurst End blog gives us the lowdown on the 25-year-old, who spent a significant time with Reading before moving to London.
It's pretty safe to say that Crystal Palace will be getting a relative bargain if they do manage to pick up Alex McCarthy for just £3.5m.
What's good for Palace will come as a big blow for Reading's bean counters who had no doubt expected the former England U21 keeper to net them a tidy sell-on fee after joining QPR for around £3m less than a year ago.
A dire financial situation at the Madejski Stadium coupled with the fact that Alex had just a year left on his deal meant that he had to be sacrificed as a saleable asset, leaving Adam Federici to run down his final year unopposed between the sticks.
While the move was understandable, few fans were happy to see the keeper leave the club as he was almost universally rated the better prospect in the long-term. Plus as an Academy graduate, Alex had an extra connection to the Reading fanbase that the Aussie didn't enjoy.
Even before making his Royals debut, McCarthy had already proved himself a highly promising goalkeeper out on loan. Yeovil and Brentford fans had only positive things to say about the keeper, who even took League Two's 'Golden Gloves' award while at Griffin Park.
Once Marcus Hahnemann left Reading in 2009, McCarthy soon become the club's regular number two and when Federici suffered an injury during early 2011, Alex seamlessly took his spot, helping us not only to a play-off final but also to an FA Cup quarter-final where he put in an outstanding display against Manchester City.
Federici would take his spot back as the senior keeper but after a wobble during our return to the Premier League, McCarthy would again get the chance to impress. Excellent performances followed but an injury in the final minute of another brilliant display away at QPR saw him ruled out for four months just as he was poised to earn an England call-up.
Fortunately McCarthy returned none the worse from a shoulder injury and cemented his reputation as one of England's best young keepers with a remarkable performance against a Liverpool team containing Luis Suarez.
An England call-up followed for a friendly with Brazil but his return to the Championship with Reading dented his international chances before a year on the bench at QPR similarly kept him in the international shade.
So what are you getting from McCarthy?
His main strength is his shot stopping ability. If you watch either of the clips above then that becomes apparent, while his handling and command of his box are also plus points on his CV.
On the other hand his distribution has always been his major weak point, while some have questioned his ability to organise a defence effectively.
Palace are certainly 'buying low' on McCarthy. He's nowhere near his peak and if he gets a regular run of games could certainly force his way back into the England squad. He may never be a top, top goalkeeper but he's easily got the potential to at least be at the level of a Ben Foster or Fraser Forster.
All the best for the season, now if you could just send us Glenn Murray back...
Crystal Palace have made their third major summer signing with the acquistion of Alex McCarthy for an undisclosed fee, believed to be in the region of £3.5million.
The Eagles have already snapped up Yohan Cabaye for a club record fee, and Patrick Bamford on loan from Chelsea.
The goalkeeper joins on a four-year deal after speculation throughout the summer that he would swap west London for south London.
McCarthy joined Rangers from Reading last summer but found himself frustrated as he sat on the bench and played only four times for the club.
He began his career at Reading, and made 75 appearances for the Royals, including 13 in the Premier League, before then linking up with QPR for an undisclosed fee last August, despite rumoured interest from Liverpool.
But his spell at QPR has not been a happy one and McCarthy will be given the chance to compete with Julian Speroni for the No 1 shirt between the sticks at Selhurst Park this season.
The move is likely to see Wayne Hennessey depart to West Bromwich Albion to rejoin former manager Tony Pulis, although he has travelled with the squad to South Africa.
Crystal Palace announced on Tuesday that Patrick Bamford joined the club on a one-year loan deal from London neighbours Chelsea, but can he be success? Greg Waller asesses the talented youngster.
The talented England Under 21 international spent last season on loan at Middlesbrough and was the star attraction, scoring 19 goals that took them to the play-off final, missing out on promotion to Norwich City. He capped a fine season by being voted as the Championship Player of the Year, following in the footsteps of the likes of Phil Jagielka, Kevin Phillips, Rickie Lambert and Danny Ings; not bad for a 21-year-old.
It was logical, then, that Bamford should want to test himself at the highest level of English football next, having already passed tests in League One and the Championship with flying colours. With his parent club being less than 10 miles from his new home, Palace and Bamford are a perfect fit. It is no secret that Palace need more goals, Bamford will be desperate to provide them, and Chelsea can keep a close eye on his development.
Bamford’s arrival takes the tally of first team strikers at the club to four, alongside Glenn Murray, Dwight Gayle and Fraizer Campbell – though all three of them have, at some point this summer, been linked with moves to the likes of Norwich City, Bournemouth, and Queens Park Rangers. With Palace also being linked with moves for the likes of Charlie Austin and Loic Remy this summer, it’s not unreasonable to expect that at up any of the aforementioned forwards could be on the move to make way for an established, quality striker.
Certainly, Bamford will feel he has a real opportunity to establish himself as first choice, as he did at MK Dons, Derby County and Middlesbrough, and it’s the player he’s most similar to, Glenn Murray, who may be most concerned about losing his place. Both Bamford and Murray base their play on an excellent reading of players around them, excellent positioning and, of course, quality finishing. Bamford, however, is more likely to be able to carry the ball from the wings, whilst Murray provides more of a physical and aerial threat. In an ideal world, most Palace fans would love to see Bamford playing alongside, and learning from, Murray as opposed to replacing him.
He’s already told the club’s official site that Palace "were actually [his] first choice, but [he] didn’t realise they were keen to start with." Whether this is rhetoric or not, it’s great to see a new signing demonstrate what an attractive proposition Palace are now – and Bamford did turn down the chance to study at Harvard, so he clearly knows what he’s talking about.
Though some may criticise Premier League clubs loaning players to each other, this hopefully goes to show the determination and desire Bamford will show at the club for this season at least. What with him already being a part of Gareth Southgate’s England Under 21s, he will perhaps look at the inclusion of Charlie Austin and Jamie Vardy in Roy Hodgson’s most recent England squad and set his sights high. With the positivity surrounding the club and the progress being made on the pitch – why not?
Welcome to Crystal Palace, Patrick. Here’s to the next, successful stage in your, and the club’s, future.
Crystal Palace have announced the signing of Chelsea striker Patrick Bamford on a season-long loan.
The young striker signed a three-year contract with his current club before completing his move to SE25, perhaps an indicator of just how highly he is regarded at the West London side.
Bamford started his career in football as a youth player for Nottingham Forest, and was signed by Chelsea for £1.5m after making just two appearances for the club. He then immediately joined MK Dons on loan, where he made 37 appearances scoring 18 goals. His spell at Derby saw a return of eight goals in 21 starts, while 39 games at Boro last season saw a return of 17 goals.
While his scoring record is impressive, it will be interesting to see just how he fits into Alan Pardew's side, and whether that scoring touch can adapt to the challenge of Premier League football.
It is likely that Bamford will join up with the rest of the Palace squad on their trip to South Africa.