Palace, being a newly promoted side, have done everything in their power to consolidate their Premier League status by bringing in a huge amount of players and due to their extremely bad habit of first season relegation, I’ll be considering whether this drastic intake of players at Selhurst Park is exactly what the doctor ordered.
I’d first like cast my opinion on the signing of Dwight Gayle from Peterborough, as not only is Gayle very young and inexperienced at a high level, but for his relative unknown status he still commanded a hefty transfer fee of £8.5 million. Before I say anything completely ignorant I’d like to cover my own back by saying that despite my self-professed knowledge of football I am guilty of not following the Championship to any great extent and therefore do not know too much about Dwight Gayle. However, I do know that when considering a trio of factors such as his age, lack of experience at a high level, and the club he moved to; he was a very expensive and very risky signing for Crystal Palace as not only will his transfer fee pile huge pressure onto his young shoulders, but the sum paid for him may become problematic should Crystal Palace find themselves back in the Championship next year. Saying this, it is clear he must have talent and I am sure he will take huge satisfaction in proving people like me that he was worth every penny spent on him and if this is the case, Dwight Gayle could very well be an impressive coup for these Premier League minnows. Yet I still have my doubts that he was worth shelling out on, mainly based on the fact that a player of his supposed potential did not have more prestigious admirers and has found himself at a team with a very precarious position in England’s top flight.
The second part of Crystal Palace’s transfer activity I’d like to focus on is their huge intake of players that have already had a crack at Premier League. The likes of Jason Puncheon, Marouane Chamakh and Barry Bannan should be recognisable, or at least ring a bell to anyone who follows the Barclays Premier League, and it is the very fact you should have heard of them that forms the basis of my argument. Each of these players bring with them ample amounts of experience in this league, or at least a vast amount more than their new teammates and although I agree that none of these players ever set the top flight of English football on fire, I must emphasise it is not their ability (or even lack of it) to score shed-loads of goals or play defence splitting passes that makes them great additions to the Crystal Palace squad. For example, Marouane Chamakh has scored goals for Arsenal – although on a far from regular basis – in the domestic league and in Europe, and made 67 appearances for the club whilst doing it. Furthermore, Jason Puncheon, who has impressed against even some of the most formidable forces of Premier League football, is a player who found himself to be an integral part of Nigel Adkin’s Southampton side, before the both sudden and surprising appointment of his successor, Mauricio Pochettino, whilst another player in Barry Bannan, who despite never amassing a huge global fan base, has shown glimpses during his time at Villa that there is a degree of ability inside him, especially in that trusty (or not so) left foot of his. But anyway, no matter how poor you think these players are, these are just three of many with Premier League experience and I believe that despite their obvious shortfalls they will not only add some quality to the squad but more significantly should not be phased by the relentless physical and mental demands of the top flight which could prove vital should Palace continue their descent towards the drop and give them the competitive edge over other potential strugglers.
All in all, already finding his side 4 points from safety it’s clear Ian Holloway is facing an incredibly uphill struggle if he wants to break Crystal Palace’s Premier League voodoo and survive at least one season at the highest level. However, I think with the vast number of signings made he has given them a better chance than in previous years. Some of his signings are a mystery to me in terms of whether they will live up to their value, or even better it, but the most important part of this window for Crystal Palace is the fact that they have managed to capture the signature of Premier League experienced players. By bringing in people, whether on loan or on a permanent deal, that have played at the highest level for a number of years I feel Ian Holloway has done some very astute business this summer and may have given Palace, despite their very poor start, the fighting chance they have been so desperately waiting for.
Don’t worry Ian, fifth time lucky…