Football

Should Crystal Palace spend big this summer?

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Parish has already said he won't be spending big. (©GettyImages)
Parish has already said he won't be spending big. (©GettyImages).

Crystal Palace secured promotion to the Premier League, beating Watford in the play-off finals, in a match which went into extra time. 

It was a dream ending to a crazy season for Palace. Palace were easily one of the best teams in the league, but lost their way towards the end and finished fifth, missing out on automatic promotion. 

However, with Wilfried Zaha inspiring wins over Brighton and Hove Albion as well as Watford, they ensured that they made a return to the top flight. But with the England international set to complete his move to Manchester United in the summer, the Eagles have a tough job to survive among the best in the nation. 

As reported by BBC Sport, Palace chairman Steve Parish stated that he would not go all out and spend his newfound riches on new arrivals to strengthen his squad, but would rely on the stars of Wembley who got them there. 

This would look to be a reasonable proposition, with recent promotees Swansea City, Norwich City and Southampton all relying successfully on pretty much the same players who got them promoted. 

Also, a QPR team which spent significant millions in bringing quality players to London, were relegated after just two seasons in the top flight. 

Thus, this could seem the more attractive option. However, one should remember that this cannot be used for generalisation, as is proved by the case of Reading. Having won the Championship last season, Reading failed to build a side capable of competing at the highest level and consequently they were relegated at the first time of asking, whereas fellow promotees West Ham spent big on various players and were rewarded with survival with plenty to spare.

This brings us to the question - which of these methods should Palace follow? Palace have a group of solid performers, but with the departure of Zaha, they will have no marquee players in their squad. Every team which stuck with the same players who got them promoted had a standout player - Swansea had Joe Allen and Scott Sinclair, Norwich had Grant Holt, and Southampton had Morgan Schneiderlin and Ricky Lambert. But without Zaha and the injured Glenn Murray, Palace currently lack a player who has the class to become their talisman over the coming season. 

And a talisman is so desperately needed in the tight fight for survival. None would know this better than Palace, with the team being repeatedly bailed out this season by wonder kid Zaha when the going got tough. Crystal Palace cannot afford to rest on their laurels and need to spend wisely in the coming window if they are to make the grade. 

A quality striker should be their first priority, with last season's Championship top scorer Glenn Murray out injured until November, the team do not have an established goal scorer in their ranks. 

Aaron Wilbraham scored just a single goal last season, and Kevin Phillips is nearing 40 years of age. A cheap, but good striker is imperative for the Eagles, and they need to evaluate their options in the transfer market. 

Players from the relegated teams, such as Reading's Adam le Fondre and Wigan Athletic's Arouna Kone have both proved that they have what it takes to compete at the highest level and could prove to be valuable acquisitions for Palace. 

These players are also likely to suit the shallow pockets of the club, with their respective clubs being in financial distress due to their relegation. Another potential buy should be that of an established campaigner to fill in the huge void that will be left by Zaha. Again, Palace could scour the teams that will be competing in the lower leagues next season. Wigan's Callum McManaman and Reading's Hal Robson-Kanu have impressed this season, and will also come cheap.

Along with replacing the unavailable stars, another issue that needs to be addressed is the lack of depth in the squad. This problem was glaringly evident in Palace's barren run towards the end of this season where they went on a nine match winless streak that cost the team automatic promotion. 

Such lengthy spells of below average football can be ill afforded by a team that is expected to struggle, and to counter this Parish needs to invest in versatile players just to increase the number of options available to the manager.

The single major factor that works in Crystal Palace's favour though, is their manager Ian Holloway. The Englishman almost achieved survival with even lesser resources two seasons ago, when his Blackpool side were relegated on the last day of the season. 

Blackpool's attacking brand of football was well loved in the Premier League, as was their eccentric manager Holloway. And despite the departures of several first team players, Holloway still led them to the Championship play-off final last term where they lost to West Ham. Holloway has again weaved his magic this year on the Crystal Palace team, with their attacking play being greatly praised. Crystal Palace are sure in for a tough ride come next season, but if anyone can lead them through the season unscathed, its Holloway.


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Topics:
Crystal Palace
Swansea City
Football
Premier League
Glenn Murray
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