Tag Archives: Crystal Palace

Congratulations to Bradford, Yeovil and Palace: 2013 play-off review

May I start by apologising for the lack of updates on this blog over recent weeks. Having pestered readers with views on tedious managerial changes and politics in football, outside commitments have meant this blog has been neglected at the most important stage of the season.

Wembley was the stage once again for the Football League Play-offs

Wembley was the stage once again for the Football League Play-offs

But now that the season has ended with Crystal Palace’s impressive win against Watford, the time has come to look back over the biggest games in English football; the Football League Play-Offs.

They are the showpiece events of the Football League calendar, they are the most important games in any club’s season and they provide some of the greatest and darkest days of a fan’s life.

League 2: Bradford 3-0 Northampton

The Match: Bradford’s hammering of Northampton will go down in history as one of the easiest play-off final victories in history. Goals from Hanson, McArdle and Wells meant the Bantams had effectively won the game by the 30-minute mark.

Bradford could have scored six or seven but they decided to take their foot off the pedal. This ensured a terribly dull last 60 minutes for us neutrals.

Bradford thoroughly deserved their promotion. They had sacrificed a possible automatic promotion by putting huge emphasis on their League Cup campaign, and battled hard to reach the play-off final.

Phil Parkinson got his tactics spot-on, instructing his players to pass the ball quickly, use the wings and constantly test the Northampton back four. They overran the Cobblers in midfield, stretched the defence and loaded the box with attackers, meaning Northampton couldn’t cope with crosses.

Northampton were desperately poor on the day. Having reached the top seven through tough defending and great organisation, Northampton were disorganised, open and incredibly careless. Most disappointingly they lacked energy and didn’t seem to be as enthusiastic as Bradford. Aidy Boothroyd was severely punished for their negativity and for the baffling decision to leave Adebayo Akinfenwa on the bench. One particularly limp shot on target sums up Northampton’s miserable afternoon.

Bradford in League 1? There’s no reason why Bradford can’t excel in the third tier. They have had a miserable time of things since Premier League relegation in 2001, facing relegation after relegation as well as crippling financial problems. But this season has shown the potential of Bradford City.

They play good, attacking football and have a very balanced side. There will be a tremendous feel-good factor around the club throughout the summer, and with the coffers looking healthier than they’ve looked in years, Parkinson should have some money to spend over the coming months.

Bradford should not just aim to stay up, but stay up safely.

What do Northampton do next? The play-off final highlighted Northampton’s deficiencies. They were too negative to go up this season and couldn’t vary their style of play when the long-ball option failed, as it did against Bradford. The squad needs freshening and strengthening, and Aidy Boothroyd’s decision not to offer top-scorer and Europe’s heaviest footballer, Adebayo Akinfenwa, a new contract shows there may be a desire to acquire more mobile forwards. But replacing Akinfenwa’s goals and his personality could be very difficult.

League 1: Brentford 1-2 Yeovil

Match: This was undoubtedly the most entertaining play-off final, and both teams deserve heaps of credit for putting on a great show and representing League 1 well.

Yeovil had the perfect start when Paddy Madden toe-poked the ball brilliantly into the top corner after six minutes. Brentford struggled to get going in the first half, and never troubled Stech in the Yeovil goal. Yeovil then doubled their lead when James Hayter’s header crossed the line before Shaleum Logan could hook it away.

Brentford reacted superbly after the break and must have thought a comeback was on the cards when Harlee Dean placed his header beyond the reach of the Glovers’ goalie just six minutes into the second half.

But despite a spirited and entertaining effort in the second half, a combination of poor luck, resilient defending and goal-keeping kept the Londoners out and Yeovil held on to clinch the unlikeliest of promotions and extend their fairy-tale story even further.

It was harsh on Brentford, who have had a magnificent season and were still reeling from the final day drama against Doncaster. But Yeovil have been brilliant under Gary Johnson this season and have defied all the odds to go up.

In truth this was a game neither side deserved to lose, but Brentford lacked the belief and the confidence which Yeovil had in abundance.

Yeovil in the Championship? It doesn’t sound right somehow, does it? The smallest club in League 1, with the smallest budget have won promotion to the Championship! It also makes the Glovers the top team in the West Country for the first time in their history.

Yeovil’s rise in recent years has been unbelievable, considering they only became a league club in 2003. The return of Gary Johnson has reinvigorated the Somerset club after some tough seasons, but can Yeovil really compete in the second tier?

Financially of course they can’t compete with the giants of the Championship, but Johnson has always had a great eye for a bargain, as proved by the brilliant Paddy Madden.

Yeovil will have the most unglamorous squad in the Championship but the great team spirit at Huish Park and the positivity created by their Wembley win will give them plenty of reasons to believe they can survive next year.

What do Brentford do next? It’s the bitterest pill for Brentford to swallow after squandering the golden opportunity to get promoted on the final day of the season against Doncaster.

Uwe Rösler has nurtured a talented squad who play excellent, attacking football, but the failure to clinch promotion will undoubtedly haunt them throughout the summer. There’s no reason why the Bees can’t go up next season, but first of all the German must put the last few weeks behind him and move on with a positive mindset.

Some players may leave, but Rösler will still have a good squad, and expect them to be challenging for promotion once again next year.

Championship: Watford 0-1 Crystal Palace AET

The match: It could hardly be called a classic but Crystal Palace fans will not care because for them it’s the perfect end to an extraordinary season.

The Eagles began the season brilliantly but then shockingly lost their manager and club hero, Dougie Freedman, to Bolton. In came Ian Holloway and he had a tough time settling before masterminding his team’s victorious play-off campaign.

Having out-thought Brighton in the semi-final, Palace out-fought Watford in the final.

The dire first half produced few opportunities, and while neutrals got excited once or twice by Wilfried Zaha’s runs, the Manchester-bound youngster constantly failed to find an end product.

In the second half Palace became more adventurous. They began to stretch the unimposing Watford back-line and create openings. Only Manuel Almunia, between the Hornets’ sticks, kept the final goalless, and forced extra time.

Watford’s disappointing performance continued into the additional half hour, and just before half-time in extra-time, Marco Cassetti’s clumsy foul on Zaha gave veteran Kevin Phillips the chance from 12 yards to give Palace a priceless lead. He hammered the ball past Almunia.

Neutrals hoped the goal would trigger a reaction from Watford but Zola’s men simply couldn’t raise their games and Crystal Palace held on to secure promotion back to the top-flight.

One of the great characteristics of Palace’s successful campaign has been the way unglamorous individuals have stood out. Jedinak was a colossus at the heart of midfield and the two centre-backs, Delaney and Gabbiddon, who have not had particularly spectacular seasons, stepped up for the play-offs and kept clean-sheets in all three games.

Palace in the Premier League? Crystal Palace hold the record for the most relegations from the Premier League, and they are already the bookies’ favourites for relegation next season (although this is common practice for the play-off winners).

The task is made even more difficult by the fact Wilfried Zaha is leaving for Manchester United and top-scorer Glenn Murray is expected to be out until Christmas with a serious knee injury. Crystal Palace’s squad is small anyway, and includes many players who don’t look capable of playing at a higher level (Wilbraham, Garvan and Ramage are likely to struggle in the Premier League, although both Garvan and Ramage have signed contract extensions).

But Ian Holloway has proved at Blackpool that he has a knack for getting the best out of squads and surprising Premier League sides. He needs to get Palace thinking the same way the Tangerines thought when they were promoted in 2010.

It’s going to be tough for Palace, but the poor standard of this season’s Premier League should give them hope, and they need to approach the big league with a fearless attitude.

What do Watford do next? Much of how Watford do next season depends on who they manage to retain.

They will hold on to some of their borrowed players, but many will return to their parent clubs. Zola has done brilliantly to unite the current squad, but he may have to do the same thing again over the summer. Expect plenty of fresh faces at Vicarage Road, and they can help improve spirits after the Wembley ordeal.

Watford never recovered from the disappointment of missing out on automatic promotion and they underperformed massively against Palace in the play-off final. Despite playing some beautiful football this season, Watford have also looked slightly unfocused from time to time.

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Why doesn’t anybody want to get promoted to the Premier League?

Most clubs dream of promotion to the Premier League and all the perks which come with it. Great away trips to some of the top clubs in Europe, increased media attention and a huge cash injection are what most Football League fans dream of at night.

So why are Hull, Watford and Palace so intent on staying in the Championship?

Why don't clubs want to go up?

Why don’t clubs want to go up?

This weekend all three clubs lost and these are not anomalies. The chasing trio have been seriously inconsistent in recent games and none of them seem willing to take advantage of the other clubs’ unreliability. It’s almost as if they don’t want to go up.

The bizarre thing is the way all of these clubs have dragged themselves up the league to get into a position to challenge for second spot, only to lose their nerve just when they have the chance to assert their authority.

Palace, for example, had a great start to the season but the surprise departure of Dougie Freedman knocked them. As Ian Holloway got to know the club Palace lost pace with the division’s front runners.

But at the start of February they began a tremendous run, where they once again clicked, and clambered up the league. This run culminated with a magnificent 4-2 win against Hull, which appeared to signal Palace’s promotion push was ready to blow away the likes of Hull and Watford. But after this impressive result the Eagles slipped up against former manager, Neil Warnock, with a 2-2 draw at home to Leeds.

Then at the weekend Palace failed to lift themselves for the trip to arch-rivals Brighton. They were duly beaten 3-0 by the free-flowing Sussex side.

Watford’s story is similar. Just a few weeks ago Gianfranco Zola was praised on this blog for taking a group of borrowed foreigners and turning them into an elegant, attack-minded team. But just when they looked set to take the reins and pull away from the chasing pack they’ve stumbled.

They’ve now lost their last two games, firstly against a Blackpool team who have been far from spectacular (at least on the pitch) this season. Then on Saturday they travelled to relegation-threatened Barnsley and lost 1-0. Even though Barnsley have seen a resurgence since David Flitcroft was appointed manager this was still a frustrating result for Watford who are tiring at the wrong time of the season.

Hull are currently second in the Championship, but are inconsistency personified. Their last five results read:

Lost away to Bolton 4-1

Won at home against Birmingham 5-2

Lost away to Palace 4-2

Won away against Burnley 1-0

Lost at home against Nottingham Forest 2-1

At times Hull look confident, solid and goal-hungry. At other times the Tigers seem meek, vulnerable and overly conservative.

Champions-elect Cardiff now lead the league by seven points with a game in hand over the chasing pack. But Cardiff have been extremely sporting in the last few weeks, giving their rivals plenty of chances to catch them. Cardiff’s scrappy win against Wednesday was only their second in their last six games. The Bluebirds have given Hull, Watford and Palace more than enough chances to catch up and even overtake them, but they’ve failed to capitalise on the Welshmen’s slip ups.

This inconsistency presents two big problems for these three clubs.

First of all it goes without saying if they’re reluctant to snap up the second promotion spot, somebody else could sneak up on them. At the moment Nottingham Forest look the most likely option to take over. Billy Davies has transformed Forest since he took over and the brilliant victory at the KC Stadium was their sixth in a row.

They’re still eight points off Hull, but if they can keep up their scintillating form, who’s to say they too can’t snatch automatic promotion from the stumbling front runners?

The second big problem concerns the play-offs. It’s always difficult for players to raise their game for the play-offs if they’ve narrowly missed out on second, and are still depressed about it. But if they’re not in good form anyway the play-offs suddenly become a daunting proposition.

This year more than ever before we’re looking outside the current top six for potential play-off winners. There are plenty of good sides who have probably underperformed this season but could do very well in the play-offs if they can find some good form.

We’ve already discussed Forest’s good form, and even though Leicester are by now out of automatic promotion contention the Foxes have proved in the past when they are at their best they are possibly the best team in the league. If they can recapture their form from the first half of the season, they could be play-off favourites.

Likewise Brighton have underperformed in general this season but Gus Poyet’s team are big match players, and they showed on Sunday what they can do when they click. Dougie Freedman too has had an impact at Bolton and their defeat against Ipswich on Saturday was their first in nine games. They have played themselves into play-off contention.

There are just ten games remaining in the regular season, but this means there are 30 points up for grabs. These are by far the most important games of the season for teams chasing promotion, either automatically or through the play-offs.

If players and teams can’t raise their games and hold their nerves for these matches then they don’t deserve to go up.

Zola deserves praise, not scorn

Crystal Palace manager, Ian Holloway, has been critical of Watford’s exploitation of the loan system, which allowed them to bring 11 players in on loan.

Palace had gone two goals down before resiliently clawing back to draw the match 2-2, but Holloway felt aggrieved his opponents were allowed to field seven loan players. Cassetti, Chalobah, Abdi, Pudil and Vydra all started for the Hornets, while Battacchino and Forestieri came off the bench, meaning over half the players who featured for Watford were borrowed from other clubs.

The FA and the Football League have no rules limiting the amount of players a club can borrow from foreign clubs.

Zola was tipped to struggle at Watford, but he's turned it around. Credit: Illarterate

Zola was tipped to struggle at Watford, but he’s turned it around. Credit: Illarterate

Watford’s connections to Italian club, Udinese, and Spanish side, Grenada, through their new owners, the Pozzo family, have allowed them to bolster their squad with loanees.

Holloway was scathing in his criticism of the legal loophole, which made these loans possible, suggesting it gave Watford an unfair advantage.

 

But instead of criticizing the system, Watford deserve praise for turning a catastrophe waiting to happen, into an unexpected promotion push.

The new owners were lambasted for sacking popular manager, Sean Dyche, at the end of last season, and appointing Gianfranco Zola. The former Chelsea legend had an unfairly poor reputation after a mixed tenure as West Ham manager.

The owners then proceeded to borrow wildly, meaning at one point in the summer, Zola had to cope with a squad comprising of over 40 players. The current first team squad has 15 nationalities represented, from Argentinian, Cristian Battocchino, to Swede, Joel Ekstrand, with most of the players still struggling to learn English.

Watford started the season with a brand new squad, a new manager and new owners.

I must confess I predicted a chaotic season, marred by sackings and disaccord.

However I’m very pleased to admit, I was wrong.

Gianfranco Zola, previously labeled “too nice to be a manager,” has brought the most multicultural squad in the Football League together, and turned them into the best footballing side outside the Premier League.

He has taken a gang of individuals, and transformed them into a free-flowing, attack-minded, passing team. Watford are playing the kind of delightful, one-touch, exciting football, all Championship fans want to see from their clubs.

The loanees have stepped up to the mark and brought an extra degree of class to the Championship.

Swiss midfielder, Almen Abdi, is part of an exciting generation of Kosovan-born Swiss internationals, which includes Xherdan Shaqiri and Granit Xhaka. He’s a skillful, cultured midfielder, who links play brilliantly.

Daniel Pudil is another intelligent footballer, who’s added an extra dimension to Watford’s entertaining midfield.

But the star of the show has been Matěj Vydra. The Czech striker is graceful, strong and fast, but more importantly, he’s a superb footballer, who should be playing at a higher level. His goal-scoring has bordered on the prolific and he oozes class on the ball.

Many Championship clubs have relied heavily on loans in recent years, but very few have done it successfully.

Cardiff City constantly brought in big name loans, only for them to flop. Leeds United have failed to secure and kind of continuity over recent years because they have relied too heavily on quick-fix loans.

But Watford have gone further than any other club, and their success this season is based on loans. As a long-term strategy this is extremely dangerous because it involved huge upheaval every summer, and endangers stability. But in the medium-term, it’s working very well, and this is testimony to Zola’s brilliant management.

It’s very difficult for any manager to integrate several loan players into a side, but Zola has managed it in spectacular fashion. For this he deserves a huge amount of credit. In a short amount of time he’s taken the average Championship squad which existed when he first arrived, combined it with some foreign acquisitions, and created something beautiful.

But can this free-flowing side achieve automatic promotion?

Cardiff look like certainties for promotion. They’re grinding out results, and on the rare occasions they slip up, the chasing pack aren’t punishing them. They’re now 11 points ahead at the top of the Championship, and look to be cruising towards the promised land.

However 2nd place is up for grabs, and with the likes of Leicester, Middlesbrough and Palace constantly dropping points, a solid end to the season would see Watford promoted automatically.

Consistency is a rarity in this league, and this season in particular, it almost seems as if clubs don’t want to go up. But the door is open, and Watford are one of a number of clubs who can go up if they just start stringing wins together.

If they eventually miss out on 2nd place, they’ll fancy their chances in the play-offs, where nobody will want to face Zola and his borrowed stars

L’influence francophone

Aujourd’hui c’est la journée européenne des blogs multilingues. Donc pour commémorer cette journée unique j’ai décidé d’analyser l’impact des francophones sur le Championship (Div 2 anglais) cette saison. Essayez d’ignorer les fautes grammatiques s’il vous plait ; je n’écris pas en français depuis presque 6 moins.

Le Championship est un ligue multiculturel et cette saison plusieurs francophones font un grand impacte, particulièrement les jeunes francophones qui introduisent un élément de classe au ligue qui est rarement associé avec du football superbe.

 

Wilfried Zaha – Crystal Palace

Probablement la star des premiers moins de la saison, l’attaquant qui était née en Côte d’ Ivoire, prépare maintenant pour son premier match pour l’équipe national anglais. Le sélectionneur anglais, Roy Hodgson,  lui choisit pour encourager Zaha de commettre à l’Angleterre. Avant cette semaine le joueur de Crystal Palace annonçait qu’il désirait de représenter son pays natal, mais l’intérêt anglais a peut-être changer son avis.

Zaha quittait l’Afrique en 1999 mais il parle un peu de français.

Il a des techniques excellent et comme un des attaquants les plus vites en Angleterre il pose plusieurs problèmes aux défenseurs. Zaha a marqué 4 buts mais il a contribué plusieurs passes décisifs pour ses coéquipiers. De temps en temps il fait rager ses supporters et ses entraineurs parce qu’il peut être égoïste. Mais c’est évident que Zaha possède le talent nécessaire pour réussir dans le Premier League.

 

Anthony Knockaert – Leicester

Si Zaha est la star de la saison jusqu’à maintenant, Anthony Knockaert, 20 ans, est le grand surprise. Le jeune milieu français a rejoint Leicester de Guingamp en juillet. Il a déjà marqué un des buts de la saison contre Huddersfield et il semble très confortable dans la ligue anglaise. Knockaert était inconnu en Angleterre avant l’été dernier mais maintenant il est célèbre et quelques grands équipes comme Arsenal et Newcastle suivent son progrès.

Stylistiquement il est génial et Knockaert a donné un aspecte plus créatif aux attaques des Renards. Il m’excite beaucoup et pendant les 12 moins il jouera sans doute dans le Premier League.

 

Gaël Givet – Blackburn

Le français le plus connu dans le Championship est l’ancien défenseur de Monaco, Gaël Givet, 31 ans. L’arrière gauche joue pour Blackburn depuis 2009 et il reste un des joueurs les plus réguliers des Rovers. Dans le Premier League il montrait sa qualité supérieure dans une équipe agité. Dans le Championship son expérience est très importante parce que Blackburn a un des équipes les plus jeunes dans la ligue.

 

El-Hadji Diouf – Leeds United

Le milieu offensif sénégalais reste un des joueurs les plus controversé dans l’histoire du foot anglais. Célèbre pour cracher, pour commettre des fautes et pour énerver tout le monde. Diouf est détesté autour d’Angleterre et avant rejoindre Leeds en juillet, l’entraineur de Leeds, Neil Warnock lui appelé un rat.

Mais il est un joueur très efficace qui a une bonne technique et la capacité de marquer des buts. Cette saison il est le joueur le plus important pour Leeds, et le seul raison pourquoi ils ne sont pas menacés par la relégation. Leeds est tristement célèbre pour la violence sur le terrain et dans les tribunes, donc Diouf est parfait pour le club.

 

Bakary Sako – Wolves

La saison jusqu’à maintenant est difficile pour Wolves, qui n’a pas adapté après relégation du Premier League. Mais un des aspects positifs de la saison pour Wolves est leur nouvel attaquant, Bakary Sako. Le Parisien a marqué cinq buts pour Wolves et il est leur meilleur joueur. Il est rapide est fort, et il est naturellement commode pour le foot anglais.

Sako, qui a rejoindre Wolves l’été dernier de Saint-Etienne, est un attaquant qui peut réussir en Angleterre mais peut-être il faut qu’il quitte Wolves pour le faire.

 

Nadjim Abdou – Millwall

Il n’est pas bien-connu en France, mais Nadjim Abdou est un héros pour des supporters de Millwall. Le milieu combative a passé quatre saisons avec les londoniens. Il est un des joueurs les plus réguliers à Millwall et son détermination fait lui un des joueurs favorites des supporters. Il n’est pas un joueur spectaculaire, mais il travaille pour ses coéquipiers et il protège les défenseurs.

 

Gui Moussi et Adlène Guedioura – Nottingham Forest

Gui Moussi est un milieu français énorme et Guedioura est un milieu offensive algérien, qui était née en France. Ils ont des styles très différents mais ils sont très efficaces. Moussi est un géant défensif très fort qui protège la défense et organise le milieu. Mais il aime attaquer aussi et quand il attaque il rassemble à Yaya Toure.  À Forest il est surnommé l’orignal.

Guedioura est beaucoup plus offensive. Il est rapide et difficile à contrôler. Il est aussi capable de marquer des buts extraordinaires. De temps en temps il semble paresseux mais il est très utile. Il a représenté l’Algérie seize fois.

 

Yann Kermorgant – Charlton

Il y a deux ans Yann Kermorgant était regardé comme un échec en Angleterre. Le milieu a passé une saison peu remarquable à Leicester, et dans les éliminatoires de 2010 il a échoué une pénalité décisive et à cause de son pénalité Leicester était éliminé.

Mais depuis son transfert à Charlton le milieu a réinventé son image. Il était intégral dans la promotion de Charlton de League 1 (Div 3 anglais) la saison dernière. Maintenant il a beaucoup plus de confiance et il joue bien pour les londoniens.

 

Yannick Bolasie

Bolasie est un coéquipier de Wilfried Zaha à Crystal Palace. L’ailier lyonnais n’a jamais joué professionnellement en France, et c’est en Angleterre que ses talents sont appréciés. Avant rejoindre Palace en aout il jouait pour Plymouth et Bristol City. Bolasie est très rapide et il menace des défenseurs. Ses centrales ont contribués à beaucoup de buts cette saison, et il est un des grands raisons pourquoi Palace sont maintenant en premier dans le Championship. Il est un joueur qui a gravi les échelons et il espère de jouer dans le Premier League la saison prochaine.

Why is Freedman leaving Palace?

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As I write this Crystal Palace are preparing for their away game at Barnsley, knowing that Dougie Freedman won’t be on the touchline. Instead he’ll be in Wolverhampton, watching his new team, Bolton Wanderers at Molineux.

Many Palace fans will feel deeply hurt by Freedman’s decision to leave the club with the team riding high, 4th in Championship and just two points off the top spot.

His decision to leave was surprising because having worked hard over the past two years on a very limited budget he’d managed to build a unified, formidable side that looked set to challenge for a place in the Premier League.

Freedman’s transformed Palace from relegation favourites to promotion chasers and also took them within a penalty shoot-out of Wembley in last season’s League Cup.

At any other point in his managerial tenure nobody would have blamed him for leaving the cash-strapped Londoners for a “bigger club.” But now seems a strange time to make the switch from Palace in 4th to Bolton in 16th.

Under Freedman the Eagles have shown great maturity, style and determination following a poor start to the season. They lost their first three games but turned it around, winning six and drawing just twice in their unbeaten surge up the Championship table.

Bolton on the other hand have struggled to adapt to life in the Championship after a painful final-day relegation from the Premier League last season. At times the Trotters have looked promising but all too often they’ve disappointed. Results under Owen Coyle were inconsistent and it’s easy to see why the Bolton board wanted a replacement.

It’s obvious why Bolton have gone for Freedman. He’s worked wonders at Palace with limited funds and a small squad. He’s been very astute in the transfer market, something that couldn’t always be said of Coyle. Freedman’s also shown plenty of faith in youngsters and appears to be a talented man-manager.

So why has Freedman gone to Bolton?

Yes, Bolton are a bigger club than Palace (though I’m sure many Palace fans would disagree with me), Freedman will probably get more funds to work with at Bolton than he received at Palace and I think it’s fair to say that the Bolton squad, on paper at least, looks stronger than Palace’s.

But I can’t be the only one struggling to understand the timing of Freedman’s departure. He’s left just when his carefully moulded team’s clicked and began turning heads. It’s like spending two years building a model aeroplane then throwing it away before even playing with it.

Freedman has the materials at his disposal at Bolton to get promoted this season and to accomplish more in the long-term than he ever could at Palace.

Having said that, wouldn’t it have looked better on his CV had he taken his carefully nurtured Palace squad into the Premier League? In my opinion promotion with Palace this season, or even a top-6 finish would have triggered job offers from Premier League clubs.

I understand why Crystal Palace fans would be slightly confused by Freedman’s departure but I sincerely hope they remember his enormous contribution to their club over the years. Fans will greet his move with sadness and anger but in the long run I hope they can forgive him because despite his questionable decision to leave Selhurst Park, he’s done enough to merit a warm welcome when he returns there in January.

And who’s to say with the right appointment, Palace’s new manager can’t carry on Freedman’s good work?