TEAM PREVIEW: Crystal Palace – Mark Bright excited for the new season

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It’s easy for the wheels to come off when a new manager arrives but Crystal Palace went strength to strength under Alan Pardew. He got the best out of a terrific attack including Wilfried Zaha and the superb Yannick Bolasie, whilst Glenn Murray was in great form after injury. Now with some solid signings they’re ready to push on even further.

Last Season: Premier League (10th)

Manager: Alan Pardew

 

Squad

GKs: Julian Speroni, Alex McCarthy, Wayne Hennessey, Chris Kettings
DFs: Joel Ward, Adrian Mariappa, Brede Hangeland, Paddy McCarthy, Scott Dann, Zeki Fryers, Pape Souare, Damien Delaney, Martin Kelly
MFs: Yohan Cabaye, Yannick Bolasie, Wilfried Zaha, Mile Jedinak, James McArthur, Jonny Williams, Jordon Mutch, Lee Chung-yong, Barry Bannan, Joe Ledley, Sullay Kakai, Jason Puncheon
FWs: Patrick Bamford, Fraizer Campbell, Dwight Gayle, Glenn Murray, Marouane Chamakh, Kwesi Appiah

 

Transfers

In: Yohan Cabaye (PSG), Alex McCarthy (QPR), Patrick Bamford (Chelsea – Loan)

Out: Shola Ameobi (Released), Michael Chambers (Welling United), Kyle De Silva (Notts County), Stephen Dobbie (Released), Mandela Egbo (Gladbach), Owen Garvan (Released), Jahmal Howlett-Mundle (Hearts), Lewis Price (Sheffield Wednesday), Peter Ramage (Released), Ghassimu Sow (Released), Jerome Thomas (Released), Jack Hunt (Sheffield Wednesday – Loan), Hiram Boateng (Plymouth Argyle – Loan), Ryan Inniss (Port Vale – Loan)

 

First Six: Norwich City (A), Arsenal (H), Aston Villa (H), Chelsea (A), Manchester City (H), Tottenham Hotspur (A)

Likely Lineup: (4-3-3) Speroni – Ward, Kelly, Dann, Souare – Cabaye, Jedinak, McArthur – Zaha, Murray, Bolasie

 

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A word from…Mark Bright

On his time at the club I had a great time there, it really ignited my career after getting away from Leicester, I can still remember now meeting Steve Coppell at a service station and he told me he’d brought a young exciting player from the non-league and he was the most exciting youngsters he’d ever worked with. That spoke volumes given he’d just retired from Manchester United, he wanted to pair us up and said I had a bit more experience and I could guide him for a bit.

That player was of course Ian Wright, he liked the idea of pairing us up, thinking the press would use the ‘Wright & Bright’ headlines but that was my first ever meeting with Steve and you look back and think what great foresight it was that he was thinking about us as strike partners.

On the FA Cup success The manager had to piece together his squad, get rid of some of the older players and bring in some younger players. We’d all been rejected by clubs or told we weren’t good enough so the manager thought we had some anger in us, some real drive.

The play-offs were amazing, we’d lost some key players, Geoff Thomas and one or two others weren’t in the team, we lost 3-1 in the 1st leg of the final but came back and got ourselves promoted. We spent a lot of that season around the bottom of the league so to get to the FA Cup final a year later was amazing. We were more nervous for the semi-finals because you know it might be your only chance, United and Liverpool would always be there again and it was the pinnacle for us at that time.

Then we finished 3rd in the first division, Steve Parish said that could never happen again, back then a smaller team could have a great run and get in the top three but now it’s virtually impossible with all the money the top teams have, it was an amazing three seasons for Crystal Palace.

On Steve Coppell He was just 29, we used to go up to Old Trafford on the coach and he got a great reception whenever we went back there, those fans don’t forget their special players.

Some people didn’t get him but he was very dry, it was the new era of press conferences and Steve didn’t always cover himself in glory when doing interviews! But to players he is still a key figure, we still go to him for advice, we still talk to him, he was a very special person for the whole team.

With him being so young, he told me he was learning from us just as much as we were learning from him. He earned our trust by telling us immediately what we were going to do, that we would be strong, we’d be physical, he knew what he wanted. We all learnt a lot off Steve, I still speak to him, he gave you advice on life and not just football.

On the current team I think Southampton and Swansea are the teams everybody looks at, they’re well run clubs and they’re good in the transfer market too.

They grow slowly every season and before that Fulham were the benchmark, a small club solidly run and they set the standard by getting to the Europa League final. It shows what can be done with a long-term plan, Palace did great to survive under Tony Pulis after promotion and now Alan [Pardew] has come in and taken them a little higher up.

Steve Parish always said the club had to be in the Premier League to keep growing, spend wisely, build slowly, that included the stadium, the training ground, the squad, everything. The fans can see that the four owners are trying their best to provide them with the best stadium they can, an exciting young team and giving them Premier League football. That’s what the aim is and has always been, so to sign Yohan Cabaye is great, nobody would have expected that three years ago when he was at Newcastle.

Yannick [Bolasie] and Wilf [Zaha] provide excitement, it’s like a skills competition for them at times so the manager has to reign them in a little bit but the fans love them. Glenn Murray has been a mainstay, young Patrick [Bamford] has come in from Chelsea after a few good loan spells and now he’s in London so Chelsea can watch him whenever they want.

We can’t afford to get many wrong in terms of spending big money, United or City can afford to get one or two wrong but if Cabaye doesn’t work out for us that’s a huge deal for the club. Everyone expects him to be successful but not every move works out, it was a long drawn out deal, our Chief Executive said that was the longest it had ever taken to get a deal over the line!

 

The Offside Rule Podcast Prediction: One big marquee signing has seriously strengthened Palace in the middle and they’ve kept hold of the likes of Dann, Bolasie and co. If they do pull off a deal for a big name striker, they’ll be a force to be reckoned with and a tough opponent for the best teams.

Key Player: Yannick Bolasie – He’s an easy name to point to but Bolasie really was sensational last season, tearing apart even the best of defenders as Palace beat the likes of Liverpool and Man City under Pardew. If he stays, which it seems he will, he’s the spark to Palace’s attack.

One to Watch: Patrick Bamford – Whilst he may not be Palace’s only attacking signing of the summer, Bamford has plenty of talent and after being voted the Championship’s player of the season, he now has a chance to prove himself on the big stage. An intriguing season ahead for the 21-year-old.

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