Behind Enemy Lines

Thursday 30 July 2015 10:00

Mark Ritson, Crystal Palace Reporter for the Croydon Advertiser, gives us the lowdown on the Eagles ahead of Saturday's friendly at Craven Cottage.

How impressed were you with Palace last season?

Very impressed – from the moment Alan Pardew arrived. After a disastrous start of having Tony Pulis leave 48 hours before the new season, Neil Warnock steadied the ship initially before results became mixed. Pardew has installed belief, confidence and swagger around the place. The players play for him, they enjoy working with him and he wants the club to move onto the next level. These are exciting times at Selhurst Park.

Do you think things can get even better in 2015/16?

It will be very, very tough. Everyone in the Premier League is improving their squads and splashing the cash. Palace are looking to better 10th from last season and hit the top eight. A tall order but if they get off to a good start, the confidence will be oozing and who knows what might happen. Further big signings are expected before the transfer window closes, too.

The signing of Yohan Cabaye was a real signal of intent wasn't it?

Most definitely. Palace mean serious business and I can see them bringing in more signings on par with Cabaye. The midfield area is packed at the moment, so I can only see further additions coming in defence and attack. As for Cabaye himself, the guy will bring class and shape the way Palace attack sides. He can sit in front of the defence or play ‘in the hole’ behind a lone striker – Pardew has so many options.

What have you made of the rest of their summer transfer dealings?

Goalkeeper Alex McCarthy has been brought in from QPR and possesses big potential, but at present he is the third choice behind Julian Speroni and Wayne Hennessey. The latter has been heavily linked with a move away lately. Patrick Bamford has done it at League One and Championship level, so now he has the chance to push on further. He’s a big, big talent and if he can succeed on loan at Palace, Chelsea will have a superstar on their hands. Initially, I can’t see him starting every match – but if he starts well and scores goals, then Pardew has a welcome selection headache.

Just how much of a difference has Pardew made since he joined?

A massive difference. As I mentioned above, he’s brought a whole new dimension to Palace. You can tell the enthusiasm and confidence has rubbed off on the players and I can see it continuing much further. Pardew has big plans for the club and wants to take them forward, no doubt. If all goes to plan, we could see Palace competing in the Europa League in future years.

Brede Hangeland was a legend during his time at Fulham. How's he fared at Selhurst Park?

Brede, on a personal level, is a delight to work with. He always has time for anyone and is a very honest professional. On the pitch, he proved to be an excellent squad member last season and filled in when required. He had a little run in the side under Warnock, but his quality and experience was noted quickly by Pardew, who offered him a new contract for this season. Brede is also big influence and helps the younger players, too.

The game is just a week before the season starts. Are you expecting a good contest from the two teams?

I expect a good game, for sure. Both sides will step up their performance a week before the new campaign and I would like to see both fielding their strongest line-ups. However, Palace do have another game – their last pre-season friendly – 48 hours later against Dagenham and Redbridge, so Pardew will probably rotate his squad quite a bit.

Tickets for this fixture are priced at just £10 adults and £1 for juniors in all areas of the ground. Supporters are encouraged to purchase in advance, with prices rising to £15 and £5 respectively on matchday.

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