New era dawns for Crystal Palace F.C – Season Preview 2013/2014

By - Monday 12th August, 2013

With the Premier League season set to kick off this week, we look at how Crystal Palace FC can once again defy the odds and remain a top-flight side

Photo by docteur es sport. Image used under Creative Commons License.

“Lost a number of key players to leave him with a very thin looking squad” (The Daily Mail) “A mid-table finish shouldn’t be beyond them” (BBC Sport) “[Crystal Palace] will be competitive but not challenging for honours towards the top of the table” (Itsroundanditswhite)

The above quotes, taken from last year’s season previews, were hardly an optimistic view of what would become Palace’s best season in nearly a decade. Many bookmakers made them as much as 80/1 to get promoted, yet in late May, when they were still being written off by some, that is exactly what they did. As many headed into the warm London night following playoff victory, the vivid memories of a sea of red and blue balloons, the bellowing of ‘Glad All Over’ and the fireworks which greeted the celebrations soon turned to the exciting, yet tough, question: How are Crystal Palace going to stay in the Barclays Premier League?

The Squad

It’s been a reasonably busy summer for Palace in terms of changes to the playing staff. The departure of England winger Wilfried Zaha to Manchester United had been set in stone for a while, and there have only been a couple of other significant, but not unexpected departures – Alex Marrow returns to Blackburn Rovers, and popular Brazilian Andre Moritz, released by the Eagles, joins up with former manager Dougie Freedman at Bolton Wanderers.

So, who has current manager Ian Holloway brought in to reinforce the squad? Attacking midfielder Stephen Dobbie, who spent the second half of the season on loan at Palace from rivals Brighton, joins permanently; as does Kevin Phillips, the 40-year old striker who struck goal which sent Palace into the top division, and he will be aiming to break the oldest goalscorer record. Two sensible signings, albeit not ones to set the heart racing, are Jerome Thomas, an experienced winger from West Bromwich Albion, and Elliot Grandin, an attacking midfielder from Blackpool.

Watch out for Chamakh; with games and confidence under his belt, he may score the goals which make the difference between relegation and another season in the top flight

However, it is the two most expensive signatures to date which the eyes will be on. The first, Dwight Gayle, is a striker signed from Peterborough United following an electric 2/3 of a season in which 13 goals were scored in 29 league games – a great return for a relegated club. He breaks Palace’s transfer record, with rumours that the transfer is worth anything between £3.5 million to £6.5 million. The second big signing of the summer is José Campaña, the captain of world champions Spain’s under-20 team, who joins for a fee of around £2 million from Sevilla. The midfielder has already shown plenty of ability in pre-season, and should he adapt to life in England well he could become a real asset for Palace.

Another notable signing, Marouane Chamakh, was signed from Arsenal a week before the season began. The Moroccan striker, who arrived in north London with plenty of promise, failed to hit the heights for the Gunners and Palace may be the last chance for him to shine in England. Watch out for Chamakh; with games and confidence under his belt, he may score the goals which make the difference between relegation and another season in the top flight.

Perhaps most crucially will be how Palace copes with the loss of Zaha. Named in the England squad for the friendly with Scotland this week, the Manchester United winger has already impressed in pre-season at Old Trafford. What Palace will miss most is not his goals, or assists, the statistics of which were perhaps under-par for a player of his ability; it will be the space created by the player drawing opposition defenders to him, allowing players such as Glenn Murray the time and space to take full advantage. Murray, too, will be a significant loss, and he is expected to be out until the new year having been injured in the Play-offs.

Do Not Touch: The ultimate prize, but Palace will be setting their sights much lower. Photo by Ade Oshineye. Image used under Creative Commons License.


A mixed bag so far for Palace in the pre-season friendlies, with comfortable wins over Dagenham and Redbridge, Gillingham, Waterford Town and Dulwich Hamlet offset by a 3-0 defeat to League One Crawley and a 1-0 defeat by Italian giants Lazio. However, there have been positive signs so far that the team are gelling well, with Gayle having put away his first goal for the club and promising appearances by the new signings. Against Lazio, Palace were unlucky to concede, and there was real promise shown with some neat passing and cohesion across the team.

Whilst it is difficult, and perhaps ill-advised to read too much into pre-season, the considerable amount of youth team players used as substitutes and the usage of some of last years back-up players in the prototype first team is a slight worry. With just under a week to go until the season starts, it is clear that the squad needs added depth, even if it is to simply cope with injuries, suspensions, and (hopefully) cup runs. This is the price Palace is paying for their late promotion, the drama of the play-offs and the date at Wembley; pre-season has not been as testing as manager Ian Holloway had hoped and there has been frustration over the number of signings made.

First up

On Sunday 18th August, Palace kicks off their campaign against Tottenham Hostpur at Selhurst Park in what will be a sellout crowd, and in front of millions more on TV. Tottenham themselves have had a busy summer, adding the landmark signings of Paulinho and Roberto Soldado. However, it is how they will cope with the potential loss of Welsh talisman Gareth Bale to Real Madrid – for a stomach-churning £100 million (yes, you read that correctly) – which will intrigue many. Spurs were saved on several occasions  last season by a piece of magic from Bale, and the first part of the season, where they may be adapting to the loss of the winger, presents a fantastic opportunity for Palace to inflict the first blow. Palace fans will want to see their team face up to the best players in the world; yet few fans and, least of all, the Palace defence, will be crying into their pillows should Real Madrid complete his signing before the weekend. With question marks over the north Londoners defence (they conceded the most goals in the top eight of the division last season, and have failed to make any additions over the summer), the pacy attack of Palace could take full advantage.

Hold on to your hats, Croydonians. It’s going to be some ride.

Crystal Palace vs. Tottenham Hotspur – Sunday 18th August at Selhurst Park Stadium. Kick-off 1.30pm. Live on Sky Sports 1, BBC London 94.9 and Talksport.

Tom Lickley

Tom Lickley

Contributing a variety of roles to the Citizen since early 2013, Tom now focuses upon regeneration, urbanism and real estate writing. He is a strategic communications consultant specialising in the real estate sector, and counts a number of the world's largest investment and fund management companies amongst his clients.

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