Football's fine line between love, hate and sarcasm

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Last season, relegation seemed to be beckoning for the Crystal Palace. After 11 games had passed, the Eagles were sitting at the very bottom of the table with just four points to their name. A 3-1 win early in the season against fellow relegation candidates Sunderland breathed a little life into a club that was deemed certain to get relegated by pundits and fans alike before last season had already started, but they then fell to seven losses in a row after that, and it seemed like it was a sure thing.

By this time, it was clear something had to change to even give Palace a shot at staying up. Tony Pulis took over from Ian Holloway in November 2013 and they never looked back. Pulis took over the side when they were bottom of the table, and just two months later, in a 1-0 win over his former club Stoke City, Pulis would lead them out of the relegation zone and they wouldn't slip back down into it again. For a team supposedly doomed to relegation, they finished the season 11th - above the likes of Swansea City, West Ham United, Sunderland and Fulham. Only Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal, Everton and Manchester United conceded fewer goals than Crystal Palace last season, which shows the togetherness of the side that Pulis has built.

Players like Mile Jedinak, Joel Ward, Dwight Gayle and Jason Puncheon all showed they are worthy of sticking around for another season with their performances last year.


This transfer window has been a frustrating one for Palace fans. There are only two signings of note – Fraizer Campbell and Brede Hangeland.

Hangeland will shore up what is already a tight-knit defensive unit that Pulis has put together. Despite his age, Hangeland is a solid unit that is great in the air, and will be incredibly useful defending set-pieces. As a free transfer as well, this really isn't a bad bit of business.

Campbell spent last year at Cardiff City before moving to London in a £900k deal. While not the worst deal in the world, Palace will have to look for more options in attack before the window closes; Campbell scored just nine goals last season. Admittedly, that is more than the likes of Gayle and Marouane Chamakh, but Palace definitely need more firepower if they are going to improve on their 11th place finish last season.

They have been linked with many players and were close to signing ex-Spurs midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson, but he opted to join Swansea instead. They were also linked with Michael Dawson, but with Hangeland now brought in, it is doubtful he is still an option.

There are no significant transfers going out of the exit door from Palace. Danny Gabbidon is the biggest name they have lost, and losing him shouldn't be too much of a worry.


Being a standout in a team managed by Tony Pulis is a bit tricky; he thrives on making sure the team works as one instead of a bunch of individual players.

Yannick Bolasie certainly has the potential to be that guy. He was one of the most successful dribblers in the Premier League last season; averaging at 2.6 successful dribbles per match, which was in the top five in the league. Campbell has always had the potential to be a great player, but he has never quite hit his stride, and at 26, he cannot blame it on youth anymore. It could potentially be a defining season for the ex-Manchester United man.


The aim for this season would hopefully be to build on a very promising first season for Palace. This is the first time in their history that they have lasted a second season in the Premier League, and they will be wary of falling to 'second season syndrome.' During Pulis' Premier League managerial career, the highest he has finished is 11th, so improving on anything they did last season would be a personal best finish for the Welsh manager. Pulis will be aiming to do much the same again this season as Palace did last season - avoid relegation. It's a slim chance they will go down, but any team who finished in the bottom half last season could have slipped and fallen into the dreaded relegation zone. Pulis will be wary of this and make sure it doesn't happen again. One credit to Pulis is that he has never been relegated in his managerial career.

With Palace on a shoestring budget this season it seems, it will be incredibly hard for them to build on last season's impressive finish. Only two noteworthy signings on top of that - both from teams that were relegated - may not give Palace much hope. A big loss in their opening game against Arsenal could further that worry and send them spiralling.





BB's Quick Q

Is Morgan Schneiderlin right to hand in a transfer request at Southampton?




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