1. The club managed some decent results against some of the division’s elite teams.
Winning 2-1 at Stamford Bridge early on in the season and defeating Jose Mourinho’s men who rarely tasted defeat at home was a big statement for both clubs in late August. Bakary Sako netted his second goal for the club and Joel Ward’s winner ensured Mourinho lost his 100th home game in charge of the Blues.
A 2-1 win away at Anfield was also during the first half of the season when the Eagles were flying and we lived up to our bogey team credentials against Liverpool, as Jurgen Klopp suffered his first league loss at the hands of Alan Pardew. It was the third consecutive league win against the Merseyside outfit and Scott Dann’s header late on against his boyhood club secured all three points at Anfield for the second straight season.
Most recently, a 1-1 draw away at Arsenal was a surprising result. The match last month came at a time when Palace were really struggling in the league and travelling to the Emirates couldn’t have come at a worse moment in the season. But, somehow, the players coped well with the Gunners’ waves of attack after attack and Yannick Bolasie’s late strike earned a well deserved point at Arsene Wenger’s side.
Another notable draw was the 0-0 with Manchester United and the Red Devils were lucky to escape Selhurst Park with a point because if it wasn’t for goalkeeper David De Gea between the sticks for the visitors, and a little more decisive finishing amongst the Palace players, it would have almost definitely been a win for Pardew’s men.
2. Pardew is the right man to take Crystal Palace forward
Alan Pardew got some stick towards the end of his managerial tenure in the north east when he was in charge of Newcastle United, but it’s clear to see he boasts a great managerial record. The man who has been tipped by a number of people to succeed Roy Hodgson as the next England manager – I hope that doesn’t happen because he is really taking Crystal Palace to new levels – guided the Tyne-Wear club to a Europa League finish.
After Tony Pulis’ abrupt resignation two days before the start of the 14/15 season, Neil Warnock was placed in charge for his second managerial stint at the club. He eventually received the sack on Boxing Day after a dismal run of performances left the club languishing in the relegation zone. Up stepped Alan Pardew – the club tried very hard to sign their former player who was employed at Newcastle at the time and paid the compensation fees to obtain his services.
From January through to May, Pardew guided the club to their best ever Premier League finish in 10th place after a strong run of performances steered the club well away from relegation. It was a remarkable turnaround for my boyhood club who almost definitely looked destined for the Championship. It wasn’t that long ago the club were in administration and fighting for their very existence in football.
Next season will be the club’s fourth consecutive one in the top flight and the managerial changes have been quite frequent since their promotion in 2013. A total of four managers in just over a year-and-a-half is an alarming rate, however things seem to have calmed down and it looks like we have a solid managerial appointment in ‘Pardiola’.
Although it wasn’t the greatest end to the season this term, Pardew kept the side in the top-flight with a 15th-placed finish and guided them to their first FA Cup final in 26 years, which coincidentally was also against Manchester United when Pardew was a player for the south London club.
3. Mile Jedinak must not leave
The captain of the club, who has made over 150 appearances since he first joined in 2011, was rumoured to be off in the January transfer window after his first team chances were proving very limited following the purchase of France international Yohan Cabaye and the amazing form of James McArthur. He found himself regularly on the bench and Stoke City showed a great interest in him towards the end of the transfer window, but a number of injuries in the squad presented the Aussie with a chance to get his feet grounded again.
Since then, the club captain has cemented his place in the starting XI and he continues to show much strength and character in his game play and this is highlighted in his captaincy not only of his club, but also the Australian national team. You only skipper a side into a World Cup competition if you have strong leadership skills, a great mind-set and the ability to pull the team together when they really need it.
I really hope he stays and doesn’t leave in the summer transfer window. His experience and professionalism is something which is needed in every side, with competition from Cabaye and McArthur it will be difficult, but he is the club captain. You can’t get rid of the captain, he understands Palace, he knows what it’s all about and most importantly he plays every week like a captain.