The big stage. Everyone in football has their interpretation of the big stage, whether it’s first team starter, Premier League appearances or international arena, but Palace’s players are dictating the direction of the club and the interpretation of the big stage.
The international break created an opportunity to re-group the Palace squad in recent seasons, but this break appeared to take on a different identity.
The consistently strong performances of Eberche Eze, Sam Johnstone and Marc Guehi have caught the eye not only of Gareth Southgate but the top teams in the league and even with the club showing greater promise in fulfilling ambitions outlined in pre-season, it’s now a matter of time before the circling suitors land their targets.
You might feel that this is a common cycle at Palace, but this feels different. The pre-season drama of Wilfried Zaha’s departure didn’t reach the fever pitch it may have in previous breaks, mainly due to the strength of the squad and the diminishing reliability of our long serving talisman. The season began with optimism, a series of games that would potentially provide reward for our efforts, the emergence of Odsonne Edouard as potentially our reliable goal source and a squad able to grind out results.
What is different this season? The current squad is the strongest cohort in recent years with strong options across many positions Our expectations as fans are higher than previous seasons and for the first time in a our recent Premier League campaigns, we have had our ambitions raised and publicised by management.
The ambitions create alternative scenarios. There could be perceived pressure on the playing staff, the expectation to reach at top ten finish will be an achievement at the peak of the playing squad’s powers.
The ambitions also provide a shift on the levels expected of Roy Hodgson and his backroom staff. No longer satisfied by the steady survival journey of the seasons past, flirting with the top half and bottom three, the onus will be to keep pushing the top half, securing victories against our nearest competitors.
The biggest challenge will now land at the feet of the club’s backroom team, the hierarchy of Parish and Freedman. Palace’s stars have long been on the radar of the elite. This season they will further accelerate their profiles in the world’s top league and Palace will need to act fast to find the next group of incumbents to maintain this new found ambition at SE25.
With the season very much in it’s embryotic stage, we may assume that this is premature in it’s action. However, with Hodgson’s age very much against us and the financial clout of those teams at the top and on the continent, the Palace recruitment drive will need to act. This is to ensure the likes of Eberechi Eze, Marc Guehi, Cheick Doucoure and Michael Olise are quickly replaced with the caliber of player that not only occupies the position, but enables maintenance of Palace amongst the big stage.
The management of the club continues to be a grey area. Whilst Parish deals with the day-to-day, we sit and wonder where our continued investment lies and is sourced. Social media posts indicate Steve Parish visiting the States, but we can only assume the nature of the trip.
The stakes grow increasingly higher and with this the drop even further when clubs fall.
There is no doubting the astute dealings of our UK management team of Dougie Freedman and Parish has acquired much deserved respect and reputation and now is the time to act and establish Palace as a growing force in the Premier League.
This challenge presents a fine balance, the scales can be tipped easily. Crystal Palace are on the cusp of a big moment in their history. We now look to our trusty backroom staff to take Palace to the big stage and establish ourselves as an attractive prospect both on and off the field.