From Freddie Sears’ phantom goal to dropping 10 places in the table one January afternoon, we saw it all. Ok, the administration was partly our faults but for what reason should the fans and players suffer because of it, a 10 point deduction that nearly relegated us when we were on the cusp of the play-offs, dreaming of promotion? A final day ‘brawl’ with Sheffield Wedneday saved our lives in the Championship, but not altogether. A month later, we were in Central London, fighting with Lloyds to allow the hero consortium, CPFC2010, to buy the ground and prevent liquidation. And we did it in typical palace fashion, with 6 minutes to go!
So what to expect from this season? We managed to keep the spine of our squad, Speroni, Ambrose, Danns and McCarthy all stayed. With most of our financial worries now out of the way, we could actually sign some players! Albeit for free. In came Lewis Price, Adam Barrett, Andy Dorman, David Wright and Owen Garvan for £100,000. With a watertight budget in place, the club can start to push for the Premiership all over again.
However, fans aren’t expecting it right away. The new signings may look great and signal our rise upwards, but you can’t help but feel these are unspectacular players only capable of building a half-decent team, not ideal in the competitive cauldron that is the Championship. With only 5 in at the time of writing, new manager George Burley sees a miniscule squad mainly made up of some talented youngsters and a brittle strike force.
Heroes from Hillsbrough walked out of the door and into other clubs for we could not match their demands. Shaun Derry, Danny Butterfield, Matt Lawrence, Clint Hill, Nicky Carle, Johnny Ertl and Stern John all left. With no intention of undermining them or appearing bitter, most of the above are coming towards the end of their careers but I emphasise a fact that they were all extremely versatile and loyal, players like Lawrence, Butterfield, Ertl and Hill having to play in all areas of defence! Wright and Barrett have almighty shoes to fill.
Welsh midfielder Dorman, 28, has given many fans the idea that he could have a season equally as good as Ambrose had last season with 12 goals for St.Mirren last year. Owen Garvan has already made his presence known by stealing the no 10 shirt upon his arrival, indicating that he is about to have a big season. However, the dynamics of our midfield confuse me. We seem to have more creative players than defensive. How can an attack minded Danns, Ambrose, Dorman and Garvan gel and ensure defensive duties are accounted for? With winger Scannell out due to a long-term injury, who will play on the wings?
Enter Kieron Cadogan. Without any intention of jinxing, this young boy from Wandsworth has been given the #15 shirt and has had an influential impact on the pitch during recent friendlies. A star in the reserves, Cadogan is a natural right winger and regular goal scorer. A run in the 1st team could be not only valuable experience for the 20 year old, but also become a vital asset for us. Either that or we seal some crucial loan signings. Nile Ranger is being mentioned.
Probably the best piece of transfer news coming from the club was involving one of our own players, (no, not Matt Lawrence leaving) as Mr Ambrose signed a contract extension. A metaphoric Holmesdale roar echoed around South London that day, almost as though we had a new signing. 20 goals last season and 4 in pre season, Ambrose is full of confidence and the fans adore him, perhaps he could build on the campaign before…
Burley has managed to keep hold of Ambrose, Speroni, McCarthy & Danns
Ambrose has signed under the watching eye of, yes, another manager, George Burley. However poorly he did for Scotland, to be appointed for such a prestigious job is no mean feat, and it is his experience and know how of the Championship which will be his strongest assets for Palace. He has been here with Ipswich and got them into Europe, he has also been here with Derby and Southampton, guiding the latter to a play off semi. He can also rely on the knowledge of club legend Dougie Freedman, his assistant, as he knows the club inside out.
With a new team, manager and ambition, Crystal Palace can finally say honestly to the cameras that they are heading in the right direction, and a season of transition is likely to come this season. We hope…