Premier League Previews: Crystal Palace
What are you most excited about heading into the new season?
We started a ‘Proud and Palace’ podcast last season which was brilliant fun so I’m looking forward to bringing that back. The podcast after Arsenal away was amazing – just utter chaos with drunken Palace fans in the away pub.
In terms of players, Max Meyer didn't have the impact we’d hoped for last season but he’s looked sharp in pre-season. If he hits the level he’s capable of, we might finally have that creative player who can help us unpick teams at home – something we've struggled with for years.
What worries you ahead of the new season?
Our home form is a big worry. Roy couldn't find a way of breaking teams down when they sat back on us at Selhurst last year.
Another, off-pitch worry is the rise of the DFLA and far-right views in football. Palace had to intervene last season when leaflets and banners appeared at Selhurst… as part of a group that promotes equality and diversity in football, it worries me that football, and society, is taking a step backwards in that area.
What have you made of your club’s transfer activity this summer?
Shameful to be honest. Where the £50m for AWB has gone remains a mystery. Even if we pull some good signings out the bag in the last few days of the window, it's happening too late. Roy was furious about it in one of his pre-season press conferences and the fans are too.
James McCarthy is a really good, potentially match-winning, signing. In key games last season we really missed a tough tackler. If fit, he'll be that fierce competitor in the middle of the park.
If we keep Zaha, that’ll be a win in itself, but with the club showing a total lack of ambition elsewhere, you've got to wonder how long we can keep him at the club.
What unpopular opinion do you have about your team going into the season?
If I could guarantee that EITHER Sakho OR Zaha stays fit all season, I'd pick Sakho. Sakho's leadership, bravery, and ability to play the ball out from the back has been sorely missed since he got injured.
Sure, Zaha can single-handedly win you games, but I've seen Sakho put his body on the line for Palace time and time again. With a backline that’s desperately lacking in depth, Sakho gets my 'cotton wool' award for being the player I'd most like to guarantee season-long fitness.
Who would win if your squad had a WWE Royal Rumble style fight?
We've had our fair share of tough players at Palace. Damien Delaney would be in my all time list – the game where he went nose-to-nose with Diego Costa after out shithouse-ing him for 90 minutes was glorious.
From the current squad, my man Sakho has got to be up there. He's got a great mix of fearlessness and being totally cool-headed. We call him ‘The Soldier’ because that's what he called himself when he signed permanently for Palace. I don't think anyone would disagree with him.
Connor Wickham is another absolute unit, but he's so injury-prone people would just target his dodgy knees!
Where do you think your team will realistically finish in the Premier League?
Palace Twitter is talking about relegation, but I think the squad is good enough to avoid that. The team is undoubtedly getting older, slower, and more injury-prone, though, and with AWB gone, it's hard to see us doing better than last year.
I'll put us about 14th. Roy will get us enough points along the way, but it won't be a pretty watch, especially at home.