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How can Crystal Palace improve to end their Premier League struggles?

Friday 18th May 2018

Crystal Palace secured Premier League safety after beating Stoke City 2-1 away from home. The Eagles picked good form at just the right time. Eleven points from fifteen in the last five matches sealed Premier League survival. But that does not change the fact the club has struggled all season to maintain its top-flight status.

After Frank de Boer's dreadful start, the worst was feared. The Dutchman lost the first four league games without his attack producing a single goa. He was quickly fired and replaced with the ever-present Roy Hodgson. Unfortunately, the Englishman lost his first three games in charge in the same manner. The former England manager has been on a salvage mission since. Staying afloat became Palace’ only goal in the league.

But this is not new. Crystal Palace has been a true yo-yo club as far as the Premier League is concerned. The Selhurst Park outfit have enjoyed little or no stability in the top flight despite being a founding member of the Premier League. It’s been back and forth with relegation and promotion. Palace has been relegated five times since the 1992/93 season and placed on administration twice. Several managers have taken turns to make their mark at the club. Some have enjoyed limited success. Most failed to take the club forward.

Ian Holloway did succeed in taking the club back to the top flight in 2013 following an eight-year absence. It’s been a tug of war staying up since. From Tony Pulis to Alan Pardew, Sam Allardyce to Frank de Boer, and now Roy Hodgson, five managers have been in charge during this residency. None has found the position comfortable. It’s been a really hot seat. So hot in fact that De Boer lasted just 77 days on the job. Holloway and Allardyce before him resigned.

The manager is usually the easy target when things are not going well at a club. Most times the problem goes way beyond the manager.  Even a competent gaffer can have poor results if things are not quite right. Chelsea’s season is a case in point. Antonio Conte blew everyone away in his first season at the club but has struggled this season. Pep Guardiola failed to win a single trophy with Manchester City last season. He has proven his worth this time around.

Granted, Palace does not have the kind of money available at the Etihad. Then again, neither does Burnley, whose season was excellent. If run properly, Crystal Palace would have no reason to struggle. The Londoners have a good squad. Wilfried Zaha leads the way. There are other good players as well. Yohan Cabaye, Luka Milivoyevic, Andros Townsend, Mamadou Sakho, and youngsters like Aaron Wan-Bissaka are all good. These are players to build an even stronger squad around.

Across Europe, clubs like Borussia Dortmund, Monaco, Porto, Marseille, Schalke, and Shakhtar Donetsk have all proven that a club can be run on a relatively low budget and still achieve success.

Bring in a top manager, give him enough support and time to build his team by adding more talents, and you will have a stable Premier League team. Or continue to run the club like a dinosaur and watch it sink into the mire a sixth time.

Emmanuel Odey

Emmanuel is a freelance football journalist who lives and breathes the round leather game. He is a contributor on several platforms. You can follow him on Twitter for more.

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