I’ve gone through a range of emotions since it was revealed that Sean Scannell would be departing SE25. As the first whispers circulated Twitter’s online rumour mill it was difficult not to take the news to heart. I felt sadness, disappointment and even a hint of anger but once the dust had settled, there was an overwhelming sense of relief.
Scannell existed very much at the core of Crystal Palace and like many of the Eagles faithful (including myself), he was born and raised in Croydon. There are few greater sensations as a football fan than watching a local lad rise from the streets to the starting eleven and it was this sentiment that helped him establish an immediate rapport with the supporters. At 17 he made his debut against Sheffield Wednesday, grabbing the headlines with a delicious last-minute lob that exposed a wealth of potential. He had the world at his feet but perhaps spent too long looking up at the stars along with the rest of us.
Sadly, his pace and trickery were surpassed by the likes of Victor Moses and more recently Wilfried Zaha. As Scannell found his opportunities limited on the wing, it became apparent that he was trying to reinvent himself as a supporting striker. After practically living in the gym and a developing a new direct style of play, Selhurst Park was finally watching a man, not a boy and once again the expectation soared skywards. However, as Palace continued to struggle on the pitch few managers were brave enough to opt for two upfront and despite his new lean physique, Scannell was often found suffocating in the bosom of the Championship’s burly centre-backs. As this recent season drew to a disappointing finale, perhaps the time was right for Scannell to realise his potential elsewhere.
At just 21 years of age Scannell has his entire career ahead of him, which maybe the reason so many Eagles fans were surprised to see him leave on a permanent basis. Having flirted with the first-team for nearly five seasons perhaps his presence in the squad served only as an obstacle for the array of talent waiting patiently in the now infamous youth academy. Young starlets Jonny Williams and Kyle de Silva both made exciting debuts last season, which highlight just two examples of promising talent eager to fill a prominent role in the team.
It’s well documented that in 2010 Palace came within a whisker of disappearing into the football abyss but thanks to the guidance, investment and devotion of the new owners, the club appear to be rising like a phoenix from the flames. Fan favourite Dougie Freedman has already shown his credentials as a promising manager, which has allowed a greater sense of patience and understanding from the fans during a topsy-turvy season. His decision to let Scannell go is testament to the belief that sometimes you have to take one step backwards in order to take two steps forward.
Chairman Steve Parish has already insisted that the undisclosed transfer fee will be reinvested back into the playing squad, with the Eagles perhaps eyeing up that playoff light at the end of another long Championship tunnel. Replacement names have included the likes of Ross McCormack, which would certainly represent an improvement in terms of quality and experience. Freedman has spoken of his admiration for the Leeds United striker but cooled speculation a potential move, however it’s somewhat refreshing for Palace be linked with player that evokes the same excitement as his outgoing counterpart.
The response to Scannell’s exit has been overwhelming, thanks largely to the fact so many people are desperate to pay thanks for his efforts as an Eagle. Despite his poultry 12 goals in 137 appearances, his work rate and desire were never in question. He embodies that rare breed of footballer who possess the ability to raise fans from their seats when in possession and has helped bring a real sense of community and pride back to the club.
It’s not often in modern football that fans will sincerely wish success for a departing player but in this instance, I can only hope that Huddersfield have big plans for Big Scanz.
Join me on Twitter @theunusedsub where I’ve been reading up on Palace’s new signing Aaron ‘Wilbrahimovic’