After a summer of relatively few ins and outs, it’s almost time for the season to start once more.
This could be the last season I see at Selhurst, but if it is, I’m sure that it will not disappoint.
Tony Pulis seems to know what he is doing both on and off the pitch.
No doubt there will be some dissenters: “Pulis in! Pulis out!” In out, in out, shake the Pulis all about.
On a more serious note, I think Tony Pulis has made two shrewd acquisitions in Brede Hangeland and Fraizer Campbell.
With a defence that sits deep, Hangeland’s lack of pace and questionable mobility should not cause too many problems should he take Damien Delaney’s spot at centre-half.
It would, however, be an end to the fairytale that the Irishman has been living since he joined Palace two years ago.
In a “dark place” according to Ian Holloway, signing for the Eagles seemed to rejuvenate Delaney who became an integral part of the Championship play-off winning side, and then once again defying the odds, becoming an integral part of the side which retained its Premier League status for the first time ever.
Then comes the old chestnut: “There is no room for sentiment in football.”
Sorry Damo, but it’s every man for themselves, and if Hangeland can improve Palace then he should be first choice.
If that is to be the case, then no doubt there will be a part of me feeling both proud and sad for Delaney, who has arguably made himself a cult hero at Palace; not much unlike a certain previous Irishman by the name of Clinton Morrison.
By all accounts, it would seem that Campbell is an efficient, hard-working forward who happens to have the major asset of being versatile.
Cardiff City fans speak highly of his persona and of his ability on the football pitch, and like Hangeland, he should improve the side, at least in terms of depth.
Regardless, the paltry fee of under £1m should prove to be frugal business from Pulis, Moody and co.
A hat-trick at Forest Green Rovers in a pre-season friendly may not be quite the same as a hat-trick against the likes of Liverpool, but it certainly shows that he knows where the goal is.
One of the commentators in that match noted that “Palace [were] clinical in front of goal.”
Not something you expect to hear about Palace, but with the potential of Dwight Gayle and Campbell to lead the line ahead of Marouane Chamakh or Murray, or indeed Murray to play the front role, being clinical in front of goal could be something we might see a little more often at Selhurst Park this season.
Really? Will Palace be more clinical this season?
Pre-season seemed to go well with the U21 side remaining unbeaten, while the first team’s extreme fitness sessions under Pulis will surely have a positive effect on their performances in the early part of the season.
The decision to take Jake Gray, Jerome Binnom-Williams and Hiram Boateng on tour hints that Pulis is looking to give youth a chance to prove themselves, while it also sends out a positive message to players that if they are good enough, they will get a chance.
Last year I tipped Gayle to do well, and he proved his class with some stunning goals despite limited opportunity, but this year look no further than Gray.
Gary Issott challenged Gray not to come back to the U21 side and remain involved with the first team, should he not obtain a loan move, and the likes of Jerome Thomas are moved on, then the wide man could find himself at least on the bench for a few games this year.
Reminiscent of Dougie Freedman in his style and finishing ability, there’s great potential there.
It is unlikely we will see any of the youngsters heavily involved, but keep an eye on his performances in the development squad.
It promises to be an interesting season for sure. A prediction?
Honestly, it’s tough to call, there are so many variables but I think if the club can bring in a quality left-back and a winger or two – Wilf Zaha I’m looking at you – then a lower mid-table finish is not beyond us.
I’m eagerly anticipating walking up the steps to my seat at Selhurst Park come mid August, nothing beats watching Palace in person.
I'm looking at you...