Crystal Palace currently sit on 37 points and some would argue they are probably safe from relegation considering how poor Sheffield Utd and WBA are. Bypassing the 40 point mark will mean those within Selhurst Park will breath easier and from there quite a few decisions will need to be made regarding management and player future.
Roy Hodgson turns 74 this summer and as we speak right now his contract expires too. With so many players contracts expiring it would suggest he is not signing a new deal and the future of the players therefore rest with the new gaffer. Subsequently you would expect the announcement will correspond with the mathematical safety of Palace in the Premier League.
After the last few transfer windows the Selhurst Park faithful do not hold great faith in Dougie Freedman (Sporting Director) but the discussions and contingency plan must be in place. This will be his first appointment since he took the role, Steve Parish will of course have a say but if the new boss does not work the blame will surely lay on Freedman’s lap.
Roy Hodgson has kept the club in the Premier League, the next man needs to follow suit but also rebuild the team and culture as you do not replace a man like Hodgson, you start a new journey. Eddie Howe surely will be linked with the job, the only blot on his copy book is the relegation of Bournemouth last season. Maybe he has already been lined up hence the silence from his end this season to any linked jobs. Most men who are available immediately will have a chequered, disappointing past, for instance Chris Wilder. Both Howe and Wilder have shown they can build a team and would not be bad choices. Their style of play differ but that wouldn’t affect the selection committee at Palace, this is a new start and they are not exactly known for total football, more a functional survival style.
To really excite the fanbase headhunting a new leader will bring the new era in with style, showing everyone its not what is available but what we want! Of course it will cost to bring the new man in but that is more reason to give them a prolonged spell to succeed. A few targets could be:
Liam Rosenior – We all know he is the brains of the outfit at Derby County, Rooney is the figurehead but Liam is pulling the strings. Whenever I hear him talk he is impressive, its fair to say this is unlikely but someone will appoint him and his trajectory will end with him bossing in the top flight.
Scott Parker – How he’s turned around Fulham this season is remarkable, if they ultimately go down offering him a chance to continue managing in the Premier League would be enticing. This would be a project to push on an established side onto the next level.
Steven Gerrard – His end goal is to manage Liverpool but surely taking on a job in the Premier League will help him? It would take a lot to leave Rangers after leading them to the title, the next aim is to win another but the ceiling is low in Scotland.
Graham Potter – His style of football would make the fans happy, you hope he has learned a few lessons since taking over at Brighton regarding sometimes you need substance over style. For the fans nicking Brighton’s manager would be interesting!
Once the manager/head coach future is decided the playing staff will need a urgent review, 16 established players are out of contract this summer. Losing all these men would surely hamper the clubs chances next season, that level of rebuild of the 1st team will involve too much cost and time to bed in. Many of the deals are maybe on the table pending PL survival ensured but as mentioned they could be decided by the new gaffer. Some players are no brainers to release like Benteke, Wickham, Dann & Hennesey but then I would say keeping Cahill, Mitchell, Van Aanholt & Ward are no brainers. The balance of the out of contract crew are good players but hold question marks whether it be their age McArthur & Sakho, injury record Kelly, McCarthy & Clynne or production Townsend & Schlupp. Retaining some of these players will not hamper the squad rebuild it will help new players settle in as funds are limited at Palace so they will not be shopping for experienced pro’s who can hit the ground running.
Youth players have always come through the ranks so a few lads will be pushed through to follow in the steps of Zaha & Wan Bissaka. Names like Sion Spence or Reece Hannam could be on their way to stardom but shopping in the EFL will be a major market. Young British players have cost a hefty premium but due to Brexit this has now intensified. Championship stars like Ivan Toney, Callum Styles and Connor Roberts will not be cheap but play at a level where they are ready for the top flight. Talent from League 1 and 2 will be cheaper but these players will be work in progress and bulk up the squad rather than starting 11.
Two targets for many PL teams currently play on loan at Fulham, Josh Maja & Ademola Lookman, these 2 have been brilliant, this season and have shown they can be difference makers at the top level. With COVID affecting football finances across the world, usually they may have cost a lot more but surely their is potential to strike a prudent deal for one or both.
Selling Zaha is one way to bring in additional funds for the transfer budget or even use him as bait to bring in players plus cash. Arsenal, Spurs & Liverpool have been linked with Palaces star man in the past, obtaining some of their proven talent is a viable option. Zaha is valued £70m+, Arsenal will not pay that but a offer of £35m plus Chambers, Nketiah & Willian could be arranged. Similar transactions could take place with other suitors, Palace lose their talisman but they obtain funds and some proven talent.
Loan players have regularly plied their trade at Selhurst Park but the success rate is low, the quota allowed is a handful each season. Brandon Williams from Man Utd or Callum Hudson Odoi from Chelsea are the type of player they should be looking to loan in.
But ultimately this whole rebuild lands back at Dougie Freedman and his recruitment team. His head will be on the line when the management situation is revealed to all and this next transfer window his team needs to come out hitting some home runs using all means possibly available to them. Quantity and quality is required, the rebuild starts with Dougie and if it fails it will be him who goes.