The year 2015 has been a fantastic one for Alan Pardew’s Crystal Palace side. The mighty Eagles go into 2016 currently in fifth place and have adopted signs of a well established top-flight side. Talk of European football has been quietly mentioned as the season goes on and it’s starting to look more and more achievable.
Since the appointment of Alan ‘Pardiola’ Pardew back in January 2015, the club’s fortunes have turned around massively.
When the former Crystal Palace player took over at the club where he made 128 appearances, many people thought it was an unworthy job. They were cemented in the relegation zone on goal difference, three points off the foot of the table and staring at life back in the Championship.
Something needed to change quickly…… luckily it did.
Since then the 54-year-old has proved doubters wrong and has excelled in his first year as manager. It’s clear to see he loves the club and was welcomed with both arms. After his switch from the North East to South East London, the chairman, manager and team haven’t looked back.
Following a strong surge of results and a new lease of life, Pardew guided the team to an unlikely top-half finish at the end of the 2014/15 season. Tenth spot was the club’s highest league position since the old Division 1 took on the name of the Premier League.
Recently, American businessmen Josh Harris and David Blitzer completed their deal to take over a large stake of Palace in December. The pair have already agreed to invest £50million in an attempt to increase the club’s facilities. These range from redeveloping and improving Selhurst Park to updating the training ground, as well as long-term plans to potentially build a hotel at the stadium.
It’s good to see investors finally seeing a bright future for the club; remember it was only five years ago that Palace were in administration, fighting extinction and battling relegation from the Championship.
Something to really shout about this year has been Palace’s away record. The Eagles accumulated a total 36 points on their travels after 18 top-flight away matches; only Arsenal secured more points on their travels.
After the 0-0 draw away at Bournemouth last time out, the Eagles’ away record for 2015 stands tall at 11 wins, three draws and only four defeats – at Southampton, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Leicester City respectively.
Special performances that spring to mind are away wins at Liverpool, Stoke and an impressive 2-1 win at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge, a result which was only Mourinho’s second home league defeat in 100 matches as Blues boss.
Results at Selhurst Park however haven’t been the best and this is something Pardew and his players need to look at going into the second half of the season. Last term, fans at Selhurst Park only watched their team win six out of 19 home league games and saw 10 home defeats, the most of any team in the Premier League.
This season, however, has seen an improvement with only four defeats in 10 home games so far. The players are putting in much better performances and are finding it easier to dominate possession and the opposition at home, something which has been a struggle in the past. But, if the club are to push for Europe, their home record will need to be just as good as it is away.
It’s safe to say it’s good times to be a Palace fan at the moment. This year has been an extraordinary one for the Eagles and I’m sure I’m not the only one who would say it. I just hope Pardew and the players can use this first half of the season as a platform to build on in 2016. A few injuries to key players such as Yannick Bolasie, Bakary Sako and Connor Wickham will really test the character in the dressing room and the depth of the squad. January is going to be a big month and hopefully the players can bring the results in.
Who would have thought Crystal Palace would be sitting in fifth place after 19 league games – I certainly didn’t!