Well, after a couple of weeks away, I’m back, with further musing on the mighty Crystal Palace.
No, I haven’t been throwing fire extinguishers through windows or whacking colleagues with golf clubs at La Manga, but doing my own version of Four Weddings and Funeral (1 Wedding, 2 stag weekends and a funeral.)
I’m sure you’ve missed me.
So what’s been happening in my absence? Well Palace have signed two defenders for starters. Having kicked off last August panic loaning defenders left, right and centre, literally, the club have started their transfer activity earlier this summer. Joel Ward has signed from debt-ridden, relegated Portsmouth for £400k. He’s not a player that I know too much about, but it’s clear that he has been signed as a direct replacement for Premier League bound Nathaniel Clyne.
He’s been deployed as a utility player in a variety of positions for Pompey, but prefers playing at right back. From his interview on the official CPFC website he states the chance to play at right back was a key motivation. When I asked my Pompey supporting former colleague whether Ward was any good, his response was an emphatic, ‘YES YES YES. I am sure he is a bargain as well.’ Only time will whether this proves to be true, but one thing that is certain is that he will have to be excellent to match the abilities of outgoing Clyne.
Palace announced another signing from the south coast yesterday, with youngster Aaron Martin joining on a season long loan from Premier League new boys Southampton. With Anthony Gardner set to chase a bigger wage at Sheffield Wednesday and a deal for Leicester’s Tunchev apparently falling through due to a failed medical, Martin will be one of potentially two centre back signings this summer.
Whether Dougie Freedman signs another remains to be seen, but he does not seem keen to throw academy graduates straight into the first team in this position, despite an England age group skipper at his disposal, in Ryan Inniss. There are a number of satisfying aspects to both these signings; firstly, striking whilst the iron is hot. Clearly the club did not want to be left thrashing around for scraps like at the end of last summer’s transfer window, and moving swiftly to replace Clyne and Gardner is a good piece of business.
Secondly, both the signings have stated that Freedman ‘sold’ the club to them. Ward in particular had other offers from clubs that could probably have offered higher wages, but Freedman’s powers of persuasion have clearly paid dividends. Martin had this to say: “Dougie seemed to sell the club so well and he seems a really nice person. For what he’s already done (at Palace) he seems to be a great manager to work for and play for. What sold the club to me was that he was such a nice person and he sounded so genuine in everything he said to me. I can’t wait to get started now.”
So what next for Palace? The co-chairman Steve Parish has stated that Palace are looking for more ‘up top’, and are working on some deals.
The rumour mill is in full swing, with names such as former Palace hero Andy Johnson, and more realistically young West Ham forward Sam Baldock being mentioned. Other less inspiring rumours include Marko Futacs, again from Pompey and Aaron Wilbraham of Norwich. What seems more likely, as with most of Freedman’s signings is that no-one in the media has a clue who he’s looking at and he’ll snap someone up from beneath the radar. Only time will tell!
In other news, London Welsh have turned down the chance to ground share at Selhurst, which most Palace fans will view with relief after the unpleasant experiences of having squatters Wimbledon and Charlton in the not too distant past.