Saturday, 31 July 2010

Next up from the Acadamy: Zaha and Cadogan

Late last night, as I flicked between my tabs at the top of my Google Chrome browser, checking what is happening on the BBS, Facebook, and Crystal Palace's NewsNow page, Palace were playing Brentford at Griffin Park. Unusually for a pre-season friendly, I am able to listen to commentary on Brentford Player, but the boredom refuses to cease. We are losing, again, to a Brentford side who could have, and should have, in reality, been 4-0 up at the break. We have played a boring 4-4-1-1 formation with Calvin Andrew, bless him, trying his best as the lone striker but failing to do anything that footballers should be able to do. As the whistle blows for half-time I contemplate going down-stairs to play a game of Fifa 10. Or maybe watch some TV. Instead, I decide to carry on listening to the game. Not sure why, I just did.

On came two men who completely turned the game. Alan Lee and Wilfred Zaha replaced Calvin Andrew and Kieron Djilali, and instantly there were chances for Palace, with Zaha soon creating a very good chance but unfortunately couldn't hit the back of the net as the ball soared over.

Mid-way through the second half, after Zaha and another young player, Kieron Cadogan, had tormented the Brentford defence creating chances, a corner met the head of Davis who nodded goalwards before a flick over the keeper by Cadogan secured a draw for Palace.

Cadogan and Zaha have been the highlight of Palace's pre-season this year, and while we need a striker and a defensive midfielder, these two could yet be the revelations of the season. In the recent past we have had  Clinton Morrison, Ben Watson, Tom Soares, Victor Moses, Sean Scannell and Nathaniel Clyne to come through the academy, and one way or another have made us money, especially people such as Clinton Morrison, who indirectly got us promotion. Zaha has given Palace fans like me a sight we have been missing for a long time - a small striker. He is quick and pacey, and isn't afraid to take on defenders, and is such a breath of fresh air.

Cadogan is a young winger who can also play as a striker, and scored 19 times in the reserves last season, something no other player could even come close too, with Pinney behind him hitting the net 9 times. These two, with the correct guidance that I am sure they will get from George Burley, could be the two players Palace rely on most, and I can see them coming on late on in games and scoring vital goals, two years after Cadogan rounded a Coventry City goalkeeper on his debut to salvage a draw. He was frozen out last season after seemingly breaking into the side in the 08/09 season, and hopefully this season he can kick on into what will be an exciting new era.

Cadogan and Zaha will be just like two new signings if they continue this form, and they may just help us push for the play-offs.


Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Palace fans! Don't worry!

So, tonight is Palace's first pre-season friendly, and our first game under new manager George Burley. It is expected that Palace are to play with a squad filled with trialists, and rumours going around on the BBS suggest that the likes of Dean Morgan, Liam Bridcutt, Lewis Price and Mark Randall are to play a part, with many more unknown as of yet. We are rumoured to be about to announce the signing of a goalkeeper, presumably Price, and a Premier League striker before the Chelsea game on Saturday, but how many new players do we actually need?


  1. Julian Speroni
  2. Charlie Mann
So, we have two goalkeepers. Darryl Flahaven was released this summer, but he was never really used anyway during his tenure at SE25, and during the latter stages of last term the inexperienced youth player Mann stepped in on the bench. He was unused, but could be one for the future. But what if Speroni gets injured? Mann isn't ready for the npower Championship yet - he has never played a professional game at any level - so maybe we should loan him out for experience. But that would mean getting in another 'keeper to cover Speroni. And besides, if we really do want to move up in the league and the pyramid, is not having a professional back-up 'keeper really a wise move.

My verdict: Really, we need a back-up keeper. As I mentioned in my opening paragraph, that will probably by Lewis Price, a 25 year old who played about a dozen games in the Premier League with Derby a few years back, and has a very good penalty-saving record.

  1. Nathaniel Clyne
  2. David Wright
  3. Lee Hills
  4. Claude Davis
  5. Adam Barrett
  6. Paddy McCarthy
We currently have just 6 defenders. After the departures of Butterfield, Lawrence, Hill and Ertl last month we looked to be really struggling at the back with just 4 defenders, two of which were still under 20 and one was injured until December at least. However, in David Wright, George Burley has a full back capable of playing on either side, and in Adam Barrett an experienced defender and leader. But, really, we still need at least two defenders.

My verdict: We should aim to try and get two more defenders, ideally one more centre-back, or maybe use Alex Wynter if he is ready for the step up, and a left-back. We were linked with Stephen Jordan but it appears he is off to Pompey, so we will have to keep looking. Should Clyne go, though, we will need to look for another right-back.

  1. Darren Ambrose
  2. Neil Danns
  3. Andy Dorman
  4. Sean Scannell
  5. Alasanne N'Diaye
  6. Kieron Djilali
It is clear we are more-or-less sorted in the attacking midfielders and wingers department - Ambrose got 20 last season, Danns oozes class, we have heard very good things about new midfielders Andy Dorman, and Scannell hopefully can kick on from his stalled growth as a player under Burley, while we have yet to see the true potential that Djilali possesses. However, under Burley, who is known to be good with youngsters, and started of Ambrose's career, all of these should flourish. However, maybe a back-up winger on the left is needed, although Ambrose can play there if Scannell is to occupy the right hand side. That list, though, shows how we are crying out for a defensive midfielder. Whether or not we will actually use one is yet to be seen, but nonetheless we need one in the squad. N'Diaye shows glimpses of class and skill, such as he great build-up play for the second goal at Hillsborough "that day" but as of yet hasn't been consistent, and has often been clumsy and late in his tackling. Derry and Ertl left, and we now have a void in that position.

My verdict: A defensive midfield should be one of our main priorites, followed by a left winger, although Danns can play there. We have been linked with James Harper, and have reportedly had bids turned down for Owen Garvan, who would be a great signing, not sure if a necessary one though.

  1. Alan Lee
  2. Calvin Andrew
  3. Wilfred Zaha
Fans' favourite Alan Lee is now close to having God status at SE25, but like Calvin Andrew he is a ball winning striker, and what Palace need for him to thrive is a small, quick poacher who can run on to his flick ons. This may be Zaha, but we shouldn't be relying on him this season, we need to let him grow.

My verdict: Get a quick finisher to play alongside Lee or Andrew. Clinton Morrison was rumoured, and now has signed for Wednesday, and Simeon Jackson has also been mentioned. Whether a deal for the latter actually comes to fruition or not is still to be seen, but he is the kind of player we need right now if we are to be competitive in this league.

Really, we need a goalkeeper, a centre-back, a left-back, a defensive midfielder, a left-winger, and a striker. 6 players. Obviously, we could have a few back-ups on top, and none are completely necessary right now, but we will need depth and options if we are to make a play-off challenge and sustain it throughout the season.