Last summer saw a complete overhaul of the football side of things at Crystal Palace and it was Arsenal legend Patrick Vieira who was tasked with overseeing it.
One of the biggest jobs he had with his playing staff was making up for the huge amount of first-teamers that he lost without any cash coming in, as seven regular first-team members left at the end of their contracts. One of those to leave was winger Andros Townsend, so the club needed to bring in a replacement wide man.
Vieira opted for young, hungry replacements in the summer to lower the average age of the squad and he settled upon Championship starlet Michael Olise from Reading, sealing an £8m deal for the 19-year-old Frenchman.
Since joining the club, however, Vieira has been protective of his exciting young talent. Olise was handed the number seven shirt, cementing the fact he would have a big role to play in the first-team, and was set to form a formidable front line with Wilfried Zaha and new summer signing Odsonne Edouard.
But as we approach the hectic Christmas schedule and therefore the halfway point of the season, Olise has made just two starts in the Premier League this season. He has made a further nine appearances as a substitute, with both his assists and his sole goal so far coming from the bench.
Veteran forward Jordan Ayew has been the man selected to start on the right wing for the most part, but he has failed to really deliver anything of note this season. In his 14 appearances so far, which consists of 11 starts, the Ghanaian has just one assist. It’s hard to compare their stats this season because of the small sample size on Olise’s side but the most important one is that in 277 minutes of football, Olise has tripled the output of Ayew who’s featured for 889 minutes.
Palace have so far drawn seven league games this season, with only Brighton having shared the points more often. It’s hard to believe that of those seven fixtures having a pacy, tricky winger with an eye for a pass and goal wouldn’t have been the difference between one point or three for the Eagles on at least one occasion. When you consider that Vieira dubbed him “really special” too, there is certainly a big case for his involvement over Ayew in attack.
He has clearly improved already, with his value having improved to £13.5m during his time at Selhurst Park according to Transfermarkt, but he won’t be able to truly develop with drips and drabs of football.
Vieira needs to turn the team’s fortunes around after three consecutive defeats, so it’s time to give the hungry young squad he has built a chance to eat on the pitch.
AND in other news, Why Patrick Vieira must unleash Odsonne Edouard.