A look at our day one opposition, Crystal Palace
ASIDE FROM a stunning Carling Cup smash-and-grab at Old Trafford, the 2011-12 season was particularly forgettable for Crystal Palace. After the troubles of the previous couple of years though, that was probably all most Eagles’ fans wanted in reality.
Seventeenth in the Championship was an improvement on the previous term and the South Londoner’s were never in danger of being relegated, all in all, a good first full campaign in charge for club legend, Dougie Freedman.
The new season will be the Scot’s second full campaign in charge at Selhurst Park and with a tweak here and there, the former Eagles’ number one can quite rightly expect an improvement on last term’s stability. The loss of Nathaniel Clyne and Darren Ambrose will be felt greatly, but improvement and fine-tuning of the squad is definitely afoot.
Strengths: The core of the side will remain the same.
Goalkeeper Julian Speroni is incredibly reliable and has been with the club for eight years now. Skipper Paddy McCarthy has been at the heart of the defence for a good number of years, whilst Glenn Murray, Owen Garvan and David Wright are all thoroughly experienced heads among the youngsters.
Weakness’ A lack of depth.
A problem which hinders so many second-tier sides, the Eagles’ first-team squad consists of 22 names; two of which are goalkeepers and a further four are nothing more than youngsters. You would imagine Freedman will look to supplement the side with loanees once again this season.
Best business so far: Aaron Wilbraham on a free transfer.
The former MK Dons and Norwich City veteran will never be a prolific scorer, but the 6’3 forward will always be a nuisance and will invariably lay on goals for those around him. Wilbraham proved his worth to the Canaries last season as he made a handful of appearances toward the end of the campaign, scoring against Fulham to join an exclusive club of players to have scored in all four divisions of the Football League.
Star man: Goalkeeper Speroni is as reliable as they come.
Despite arriving in 2004, it took until the departure of eccentric Hungarian Gabor Kiraly for Speroni to step into the number one jersey in 2007. Since then the Argentinian has excelled, making over 230 appearances for the South London outfit. Great reactions and superb agility are just two of the former Dundee stopper’s many strengths.
In: Aaron Wilbraham (Norwich City) free transfer, Joel Ward (Portsmouth) undsic & Aaron Martin (Southampton) loan.
Out: Darren Ambrose (Birmingham City) undisc, Nathaniel Clyne (Southampton) £2.5m, Antonio Pedroza (Morelia) undisc.
wfc123: A slight improvement on last season but another season of mid-table obscurity for Freedman and co.
chrisgwfc: Can see them struggling to make an impact this season. Have made some decent signings in Ward and Wilbraham but have lost a lot of key players in Scannell, Ambrose and Clyne. May do enough to survive but finish in the bottom half.