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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Priorities: Crystal Palace

  • Palace have got lots of work to do if they want to turn a 5th place Championship finish in to Premier League survival. Where do they start?
    Palace have got lots of work to do if they want to turn a 5th place Championship finish in to Premier League survival. Where do they start?
Season Review
I think you can class promotion to the Premier League as a successful season. Dougie Freedman's Crystal Palace weren't really fancied for such success at the start of the 2012/13 campaign and had a bit of a rough start, but they soon hit their stride and were battling it out at the top of the table as Summer moved in to Autumn.
But just as things were looking up for the Eagles, disaster struck. With the club sitting in 4th place in October, Freedman made the shock decision to quit Selhurst Park to take the reins at 16th place Bolton, leaving Palace in limbo. The man to replace him was one who had seen it all before and Ian Holloway made a terrific start at his new club, bringing with him his brand of attacking (occasionally "gung-ho") style of football, aided by the exploits of Wilfried Zaha and Glenn Murray.
It was enough to take Palace (albeit briefly) to the top of the Championship, but as 2013 got going the wheels started to loosen. Injuries began to take their toll on a squad lacking depth, victories become draws, draws became defeats. Palace's home form remained hugely impressive, losing just twice and topping the home goal scoring charts across the whole league, but their away form dipped as they struggled for goals on the road. As a result the dream of automatic promotion faded, but the team secured a more-than-respectable 5th place finish (4 points above Freedman's Bolton in 7th) and a shot at the Play-Offs.
First up were much fancied arch-rivals Brighton, but after a disappointing 0-0 draw at home Holloway showed his tactical nous and organised Palace perfectly to take the away leg 0-2, with Zaha inspirational once again. Come the final at Wembley, their opponents Watford froze and the Eagles ran out deserved winners thanks to a Kevin Phillips penalty. Crystal Palace, a team who were almost in liquidation just three years ago, had secured their place in the Premier League for the first time since 2004/05.

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