After guiding Crystal Palace back into the Premier League, Ian Holloway had a huge job on his hands.
The ex-Blackpool boss would have to embark on the Eagles’ return to top-flight football without his star man Wilfried Zaha, who left for Manchester United, as well as his 31-goal striker Glenn Murray, who suffered a serious knee injury in the Championship playoffs.
One particular gamble which Holloway made in an attempt to alleviate this crisis was his decision to sign Dwight Gayle from Peterborough.
Why was it a gamble? Well, the forward has been playing non-league football shortly before he joined Peterborough, rising from the lower regions of England’s footballing divisions to the very top in just 12 months.
For £4.5m – which made him Palace’s club-record signing at the time – it was a risky move from Holloway, but one that definitely paid off.
Gayle made 74 appearances for the south Londoners, scoring an impressive 25 goals which works out at an average of slightly better than a goal every three games. The London-born forward also put his name up in lights with two goals against Liverpool in the now famous 3-3 draw which ruined the Reds’ title hopes.
Aside from his healthy goal record in SE25, the signing of Gayle was also a brilliant one from a financial sense.
When Alan Pardew decided that he no longer needed the striker, Newcastle swooped in to sign him for £10m, meaning that Palace made a cool £5.5m profit on the man who was signed, scored a fair amount of goals, and then improved the Eagles’ bank balance when leaving.
In total, each of Gayle’s goals only cost Palace £180k, and he proved to be a fine investment and also well worth the gamble.
Coming from non-league to the Premier League in such a short space of time is surely tough, although the striker did well to vindicate Holloway’s throw of the dice.
In other news, Dougie Freedman is wrong to be put off by this valuation on a player who “makes the game look easy”…