By Anthony Hay
After nine weeks in charge, Ian Holloway is finally seeing his own image in his Crystal Palace team.
Holloway’s next game in south east London is against Bolton Wanderers, now managed by former Palace favourite Dougie Freedman, who left Selhurst Park for the Reebok Stadium in October.
Holloway has changed little in personnel since Freedman’s departure, but he feels the team is stepping out of the former’s boss’s shadow.
After watching his Eagles push Premier League Stoke City all the way to a 0-0 draw on Saturday, Holloway said: “I’m glad we didn’t lose because I felt my boys didn’t deserve to. It was a practice match in a great competition.
“I played as strong a team as I had available apart from [Julian] Speroni, who I thought needed a rest, and [Lewis] Price had to show me how well he’s doing.
"It is just wonderful to have an opportunity to put a footprint down of how you want to play and then get that through to the whole club.
"I think they are embracing that. If you look at our stats today, we had 66 per cent possession today. When we won games 5-0 we only had 44.
"So they were used to winning it back and then counter-attacking. Now I want them used to the ball and we managed to do that today. But I’m sat there watching my team and it looks like my team now. If that’s after nine weeks then I am really looking forward to the rest of the four years.”
He added: "It was very equal against Stoke. The gulf between the money they have received from staying up, going to Europe and a FA Cup final is fantastic.
"If you look at the strength in-depth, we have got Wilf but then we have got young ones coming in behind him who might push him as well. It is all very exciting.
"If you look at Jonny Williams for example, he lit up the crowd with one turn. It is just beautiful to see. Hopefully they will get used to where I want them to go in my jigsaw and it will get them the ball and success, and they will keep believing in what we are all saying.
"I think Palace are not a bad team at all."
Holloway's Eagles, currently third in the Championship, level on points with fourth-placed Middlesbrough, host Burnley this weekend looking to maintain pressure on Hull City and Cardiff City.