Dawn of a new era – time for Eagles to soar again

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With the season almost here, its time for a quick look at Crystal Palace's busy summer.

We all know what a struggle it was for the Eagles to sort out all their administrative problems and they came within 30 minutes of going into liquidation! It was a close call and something no Palace fan ever wants to see happen again.

Luckily for us, the CPFC 2010 consortium were there to push through a deal and save the day. Since then, harmony seems to have been restored at the club and it's business as usual in the run up to the new season.

CPFC 2010's first order of business was to find a new manager. Someone who would want to take the hot seat at one of the greatest positions in English football (okay, that's a little biased, but hey, I am a Crystal Palace fan!) and begin a new era at the club. Enter, George Burley!

Burley has a good amount of experience. The former Scotland boss has had spells at Derby County, Hearts and Southampton, but it is for his achievements with Ipswich that he is most well known. In 2000, he took Ipswich from the Championship to the Premier League, and then guided the Tractor Boys to a fifth place finish the following season and to UEFA Cup qualification!

A repeat of that would be welcomed by every Palace fan out there, but I guess we would also settle for a mid-table finish this season! He also did himself no harm in appointing Crystal Palace hero Dougie Freedman as his number two, a move that will go a long way to winning over any doubters that he is the wrong man for the job.

Dougie is a legend at the club and was also Paul Hart's assistant at the end of last season, so let's hope he can have the same positive influence he had on the squad that he did with Hart.

Then we had to sort out our squad. A squad that Neil Warnock had built up with largely Championship quality players, who would always give you 100 per cent but were not the most technical or skilful of players.

A lot of these players were released over the summer, and one can only presume they were deemed surplus to requirements. Clint Hill and Shaun Derry have moved on to Warnock's QPR side, Jonny Ertl has joined Sheffield United, whilst Matty Lawrence, Stern John and Danny Butterfield have all left the Eagles nest.

Those players will forever be etched into Palace's history, as players who helped the club maintain Championship status in their toughest season ever, but if I'm being honest are not the players we need to move to the next level and become genuine play-off or even title contenders. I'm sure the rest of the Palace fans will join me in thanking them for their efforts last season!

On to the current squad and Burley's new signings. With the players mentioned departing, it has left the Eagles with a very small squad, which poses its own problems. Burley has been able to strengthen the squad with numerous free signings, a few of which he has coached at some point in his career.

David Wright, a defender with bags of Championship experience having previously played for Wigan Athletic and most recently Ipswich Town, will provide good back-up for the defence and will provide strength in depth as he can play across the back four.

Next up is Adam Barrett, a man with over 200 appearances for Southend United, and the big strong centre back will provide good competition for Paddy McCarthy and Claude Davis.

Andy Dorman is somewhat of an unknown. The free transfer from St. Mirren is a tricky, attacking midfielder according to Burley, so let's hope he knows something we don't!

Veliche Shumulikoski is another unknown midfielder signed on a free transfer from Preston North End, the little Macedonian will provide steely cover for Niel Danns and Alassane N'Diaye.

Finally there is Lewis Price, who Burley managed as a youngster at Ipswich. The shot stopper has bags of experience as the ex-Ipswich man has been on loan to various teams over the past couple of years, but he will be a good understudy to Julian Speroni.

Next up, is the only signing that will cost us some money, is the imminent arrival of Owen Garvan from Ipswich. The 22 year-old is an exciting midfielder with a lot of quality, and the fact we have been able to attract a player of his standing is very promising.

Whilst our squad does not look the most exciting, it is filled with players who can do a job, and that's what Burley is trying to achieve.

My one big concern is a lack of firepower up front, with Alan Lee and Calvin Andrew our only experienced strikers. Although both are decent athletes, neither are particularly prolific.

We have been linked with loan moves for Nial Ranger and Sam Vokes, and Burley insists he wants to bring in another striker. Let's hope we can bring someone in who can bag 20 goals this season, and with a decent striker we could be a dark horse in the coming season.

Perhaps, the best piece of business as Selhurst Park this summer was the re-signing of Darren Ambrose. With interest from QPR and a deal in place, before the takeover, it looked like he was on his way. But Burley, being the man who gave Ambrose his chance as a young 17 year-old, was able to talk him round and nail him down for another three years.

He is the man who can really give Palace the edge over other teams, and 20 goals last season is proof of this.

Also, Burley has done extremely well to keep hold of Julian Speroni and Nathanial Clyne. Both have been linked with Premier League clubs and so far, he has been able to resist the big money offers. Let's hope he continues to do so as they are real quality players who can take us further.

Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.

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