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Crystal Palace: The unrecognized fairytale

The Boot Room

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To even the most ardent optimistic Eagle, it must be beyond all realms of fantasy to think that just over two years after a 39 year-old Kevin Phillips rolled back the years to send Crystal Palace to the Premier League by scoring the playoff final winner, that French international Yohan Cabaye would now ply his trade there.

In some ways, even in an era of hype and dramatization of even the smallest detail, Palace’s story has been underestimated to say the least. They may not have stayed up in League Two in 2003 on the final day like Swansea, nor rise back up with a vengeance from League One to the Europa League like Southampton, but their recent past has been as colourful as those.

In fact, the Saints return to the Premier League is in many ways down to Palace’s downfall. Were it not for the Eagles’ entry into administration woes in 2010, it would be unlikely to say the least that Southampton’s captain Jose Fonte would have not only moved down the country from London to the South Coast, but down a league to League One too.

Palace avoiding relegation by the skin of their teeth in 2010 by just a single point on the final day, relegating Sheffield Wednesday in the process by drawing 2-2 at Hillsborough, led to a consortium of fans taking over the Eagles.

Phillips’ winner just three years on would have been enough of a dream for many fans, but now the picture is completely different and a hell of a lot brighter from that tense day in Yorkshire. Darren Ambrose may have wrote himself into the history books with his 20th goal that season ensuring they stayed up, but the current heroes of Selhurst Park are of higher quality now.

Perhaps the reason Palace are forgotten about is because of the obsession with what many deem beautiful football. With Germany and Spain making possession football almost the only way to play in some eyes, the more direct and arguably more British style of Tony Pulis in their first season back in the Premier League goes against that.

But it worked. After being bottom with just five points after twelve games in November after Ian Holloway admitted he couldn’t keep them up, Pulis’ more back to basics methods worked and ensured his record of never being relegated was to last.

The club even recovered from seeing Pulis walk out on the opening day of last season, although that is far easier than coming back from the financial brink admittedly. The subsequent appointment of Neil Warnock didn’t work out, with a 3-1 defeat to Southampton on Boxing Day 2014 the final nail in the coffin of Warnock’s Selhurst Park return.

Warnock’s own replacement has so far been much more successful. The return of another, albeit far loftier, Palace legend Alan Pardew ensured their safety, but also that the aforementioned Cabaye who was a star pupil during his mostly unhappy managerial spell at Newcastle, would now be playing south of the River Thames.

Few would have predicted Yohan Cabaye would be plying his trade at Selhurst Park when the club was on the brink of financial collapse just five years ago.

Now, Palace have to ensure that their third season in the Premier League is more stable for a full campaign. The club could now be considered a solid mid-table team, but have been saved halfway through the past two seasons by key appointments at the right time. ‘Pards’ needs to be given a full season to implement his ideas.

He also needs to steady the Palace ship as it enters a transition, too. Modern day favourites Mile Jedinak and Julian Speroni have been for years loved by the Selhurst Park crowd, one of the most passionate in the Premier League, but now Speroni is getting past his best and captain Jedinak is starting to become far less important. Their replacements need to be the right ones.

Luckily, it seems Pardew has been given funds to do so. Alex McCarthy has been recruited from QPR for £3.5m and the young goalkeeper could end up usurping Speroni by the end of the season, and Patrick Bamford has joined on loan from Chelsea.

The goalscoring mantle cannot solely rest on Bamford’s young shoulders, though. Dwight Gayle and Glenn Murray are both capable of hitting double figures given game time but both seem closer to the exit door than the starting lineup.

Palace have been linked to plenty of strikers, with Dortmund striker Adrian Ramos and QPR top-goalscorer Charlie Austin both linked a lot in the past few weeks, but it seems likely that Sunderland misfit Connor Wickham will be brought in.

Perhaps the 22-year old Wickham isn’t the glamorous name many would have wanted, but after being billed as a wonderkid that has so far not reached his potential levels, it could be a shrewd move. The similarities between Wickham and Wilfried Zaha are obvious on that front, and Zaha has revelled back at Selhurst Park since his Man Utd move didn’t go to plan.

If Pardew can reinvigorate Wickham like he did with Zaha and Yannick Bolasie, who both were freed from Warnock’s shackles in the second half of the season, then Palace could get an achievable top ten finish; far more achievable than it seemed on that fateful day at Hillsborough, anyway.

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Crystal Palace

World Cup winner Andre Schurrle would be a marquee signing for Crystal Palace

Max Cohen

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Andre Schurrle
Photo: Getty Images

Reports in the Italian media from Calciomercato have linked Borussia Dortmund attacker Andre Schurrle with a summer move to Crystal Palace.

Although the German international has endured a disappointing season at Dortmund, a move to Crystal Palace would be a fantastic way to revive his career in England and bolster Palace’s attack.

The 27-year-old is a versatile player and can feature as either a left-winger, centre forward, or a central attacking midfielder.

This past season, Schurrle was hard-hit by injuries and made just eleven Bundesliga starts. In those limited appearances the German contributed six assists, but only notched a single goal.

The ex-Chelsea man certainly has the quality to succeed in the Premier League, as he contributed eight goals and two assists in his one full season at Stamford Bridge.

(Photo by Frederic J. Brown/Getty Images)

Those numbers came from just 15 starts; imagine what the attacker could do if he was handed a starting spot and was given the confidence boost of regular playing time.

A move to Selhurst Park would undoubtedly provide Schurrle an outlet to play consistently, as the Eagles are in need of a top-quality goalscorer who can fill the centre-forward position.

In addition, a player of Schurrle’s immense experience would be welcomed by Roy Hodgson in SE25.

The 27-year-old has 52 European appearances to his name, starring in both the Champions League and Europe League, as well as a glittering international record that includes 22 goals and a World Cup medal.

Under the management of Hodgson and playing alongside exciting attacking talents like Wilfried Zaha, Andre Schurrle would thrive at Selhurst Park in an ascendant Crystal Palace side.

The transfer to south London would benefit all parties involved, giving the German a second chance at success in England and granting Palace the services of an experienced European attacker.

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Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace should resist the signing of Stoke midfielder Joe Allen

Max Cohen

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Joe Allen
Photo: Getty Images

Reports this week in The Guardian suggested that Crystal Palace have registered interest in signing Joe Allen following Stoke City’s relegation.

Further reports in The Sun claimed the Potters are seeking £20 million for the Welsh international, a hefty price tag that should deter Palace, as they already have sufficient options in the centre of midfield.

During the 2017/18 campaign, Yohan Cabaye, Luka Milivojevic, and James McArthur have all been excellent for the south Londoners.

Between the three, the midfielders have contributed 15 goals and three assists in the Premier League- impressive numbers considering Palace’s goal-shy start to the season under Frank de Boer.

In addition, Chelsea loanee Ruben Loftus-Cheek was a commanding presence in midfield at Selhurst Park. Even though injury hampered his year, the Englishman left his mark at Palace and should be targeted for a permanent deal this year.

(during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Stoke City at Anfield on April 28, 2018 in Liverpool, England.

It is clear that the Eagles have a wealth of options in the centre of the park, and their midfield repertoire was given a boost this week when the Evening Standard reported the club was confident that Cabaye would sign a new contract this summer.

With the influential Frenchman securing his future at Selhurst Park, there is simply no need for the services of Joe Allen in SE25.

Add in the Welshman’s exorbitant £20 million price-tag (which is £7 million more than Palace paid for Cabaye in 2015), it would be a foolish decision for Roy Hodgson to buy the midfielder.

Crystal Palace should resist the urge to splurge for Joe Allen, as money would be best spent on purchasing a top-class striker rather than bolstering an already-impressive midfield.

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Crystal Palace

Ryan Fredericks would be perfect for Crystal Palace if Fulham lose at Wembley

The 25-year-old has earned praise for his performances throughout the season.

Josh Kerr

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Ryan Fredericks
Photo: Getty Images

Fulham defender Ryan Fredericks is just days away from the biggest game of his career and yet the 25-year-old is still being linked with a move away from Craven Cottage.

According to the Evening Standard, the 25-year-old has emerged as a target for Crystal Palace as the Englishman reaches the end of his Cottagers contract.

The former Tottenham prospect helped his current side reach the play-off final last week. However, if the Cottagers are to miss out at Wembley then he may be tempted to consider offers from the top-flight.

The full-back is still yet to sign a new deal and after 47 appearances and an impressive seven assists this season, he has quickly has emerged as one of the hottest properties in the EFL Championship.

After making the PFA Championship Team of the Year, Fredericks remains one of Slavisa Jokanovic’s most important players and if they are to fall short at the final hurdle then Crystal Palace would be the perfect destination for the right-back to play in England’s top flight.

(Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

With Joel Ward likely to leave Selhurst Park next month and, despite Aaron Wan-Bissaka performing well since making the jump from the academy, Fredericks could be a long-term addition at full-back. With his contract soon up at Craven Cottage, he could be one of the bargains of the summer window.

Roy Hodgson and his sporting director Dougie Freedman were even in attendance as Fulham beat Derby 2-0 on Monday to set up the showdown with Steve Bruce’s Villa, which will have sparked the former England international’s attention.

Fredericks started his career in north London with Tottenham Hotspur, progressing through the club’s academy system before signing a professional contract in 2010.

However, an exit from the Lilywhites and a number of loan moves left the young full-back frustrated with game time and it was fellow London side Fulham who eventually took a gamble – a risk that has paid dividends ever since.

The versatile defender has one appearance for England’s Under-19 side to his name, and he is eligible to play for Guyana.

Whether Hodgson swoops for Fredericks could be decided on Saturday. The Fulham defender will likely commit his future to Craven Cottage should Fulham win at Wembley, but the Premier League will remain a possibility even if Jokanovic’s side are unsuccessful.

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