Opposition View: Crystal Palace

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It’s the start of the season at last as Sunday sees us head to the newly christened 12Bet Stadium to face Ian Holloway’s Crystal Palace. Most Eagles’ fans are still wandering around dazed & starry-eyed after their promotion to the glamorous English Premier League, visits from Stoke and West Ham should sort that out though. Loathe as I am to cross the Thames, I made a short visit to south London for a brief encounter with a Palace regular and I asked him a few questions about this weekend’s game.

So, who are you and why do support Palace?

I’m Mike. I’ve lived in Croydon all my life, so Palace are my local team.  Started going with some mates from school in the late 80s, and we still go as a group.  I’ve been a season ticket holder for 20+ years, can’t say they were all fun, but looking forward to a season in the Prem.

On a scale of vegetable sizes, where a pea is “I’m already looking forward to playing Yeovil next season” and a prize-winning marrow is “I can’t wait to see how Holloway will set us out for Champions League football next year”, how optimistic are you about the new season?

What’s smaller than a pea?.  We have never stayed up in the Premier League. Of course I want to hope, but supporting Palace you have to be realistic.  Last time we stayed up in the top flight our second season we finished 3rd, would be great if we can stay up and have that opportunity to build.  We are never going to be the size of a Tottenham, but if we had a good run in the prem, no reason we could not be a West Ham.

And talking of Holloway, are you a fan or do you think it was time he was taken back to the home?

Very much a fan, he got us through the playoffs brilliantly, and talks like he has bonded with the club, and wants to be here long term.  His one mistake on that front was after we lost 3-0 at Brighton last season trying to make out it was no big deal (it was, how would you feel about a 3-0 defeat at Arsenal?). Still he put that right in the playoffs.  I have to admit a concern about his all out attacking football, and he does only have one tactic which is to put on another striker.  More interesting than under Dougie and the results don’t lie.

Have you ‘a good blend of youth and experience’ in the squad or is it tilted heavily in one direction?

Palace have a great youth system and we have for some years now been a youthful side funding the club by selling off players once they are proven (Zaha for instance). From the rumours of who we are buying I think Holloway is after some experience, and I think we will need it.  I suspect our average team age is pretty high mainly thanks to Kevin Phillips, who at 40 years old gives us all hope (however remote) of one day playing for Palace (as he’s about 2 weeks older than me).

Anyone we should be looking out for on Sunday?

Johnathan Williams, midfielder and Welsh international, 19 years old. He had a lot of injuries last season, but we always looked a different side with him playing.

Goals are a problem for all newly promoted sides. Where are yours going to come from this year?

Obi Wan Kenobi, he’s our only hope.  Really not sure. Last season Glenn Murray got 31 goals but he will be out injured for a while. Kevin Phillips will be good for goals, but won’t play much.  I’m hoping Dwight Gayle at £4.5 million will get a few.

Any thoughts on Spurs? Any players you’re looking forward to seeing?

Has to be Gareth Bale, do you have anyone else worth watching?.

Given the lack of south London sides or teams from towns with two piers in the Premier League, is this your biggest local derby of the season?

All the London sides will be big games, West Ham and Fulham (as we have to be looking for points in those games) will be the main games I suspect.  I don’t want to delude ourselves into thinking most of the London clubs see us as rivals (like Charlton do with us).

Do Palace fans know that Glad All Over was by the Dave Clark Five, the originators of The Tottenham Sound? Why don’t you get a Sound of your own?

I may be getting on but my 1960’s pop knowledge is lacking.  If we did change it would have to be Captain Sensible (hopefully it will be happy talk after the game) or Gabrielle (Dreams of success in the prem) as they are both from Thornton Heath.

And finally, a score prediction please.

1-1 first game of the season I expect both sides won’t want to lose, and will be pretty tight.

Thanks Mike, hope you enjoy the season – just not this Sunday.

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