Alan Pardew appointed Crystal Palace boss, but what does he need?
Crystal Palace, 13/8 third-favourites with Coral for Premier League relegation, have finally announced Alan Pardew as their new manager.
His appointment at the Eagles on a three-and-a-half-year contract has been anticipated ever since Pardew’s assistant at Newcastle United, John Carver, was placed in caretaker charge on Tyneside.
Coral’s football experts have found themselves wondering what Selhurst Park playing favourite Pardew needs in order to keep Palace up? So, we got our heads together and here’s what we came up with:
A natural left back
Joel Ward’s versatility has been a real asset to a succession of Eagles managers; Dougie Freedman, Ian Holloway, Tony Pulis, Neil Warnock and Keith Millen during two caretaker spells.
Despite encouraging performances that have seen the player linked with the likes of Liverpool, there is no getting away from the fact he is square peg in a round hole when deployed at left back.
Palace have just two senior left-footed players in defence, though; ageing centre half Damien Delaney and Zeki Fryers, who has been nowhere near the first-team picture.
It’s a surprise Joe Ledley hasn’t been asked to do a job out of position in this berth, but the Eagles need him in midfield with influential skipper Mile Jedinak away on international duty with Australia at the Asian Cup.
Pardew must purchase a natural option for this flank of defence. Lille’s Pape Souare is the name linked most strongly with Palace, but he looks set to represent Senegal at the Africa Cup of Nations.
The best case scenario here is the Lions of Teranga bow out in the group stage, but his Eagles debut would not come until a crunch clash at relegation rivals Leicester City on February 7th.
Sign a striker to stop goal drought
No Palace attacker has netted since the 3-1 win over Liverpool on November 23rd. In their last seven Premier League games, the south London side have managed to score just twice, through defender Scott Dann and midfielder James McArthur.
It’s a problem Pardew has already identified, according to Millen. “He said we need to add more to our game to score more goals and win football matches, but it’s a good start for Alan to see us,” the Eagles caretaker told reporters after the 0-0 New Year’s Day draw at Aston Villa.
Pardew had a watching brief from the stands then, but the question is where does he find a striker to help stop the rot? Villa-owned Darren Bent, who spent December on loan at Palace’s bitter rivals Brighton and Hove Albion, was mentioned in dispatches, but is set to spend the rest of the season at Derby County.
Swansea City’s French target man Bafetimbi Gomis is another linked with the Eagles, but a poor return of one Premier League goal in half a season in south Wales, where he has admittedly played second fiddle to Wilfried Bony, is worrying.
Perhaps Glenn Murray, who hit 30 goals in Palace’s promotion season (2012/13) and is back from a loan spell at Reading, can step up as a short-term solution, but Pardew’s predecessors didn’t fancy him.
Eagles top scorer Dwight Gayle may get more of a run in the side under the new boss, but is a similar story to Fraizer Campbell with regard to a lack of consistent performances.
The work-rate of Marouane Chamakh has improved, but goals seem to elude the Moroccan frontman in England. Kevin Doyle’s loan spell from Wolves has ended, while Andy Johnson, the goal-getting hero of Palace’s last Premier League stint (2004/05), appears to be in semi-retirement.
Target wins in matches against teams around Palace
Last season, a relatively low threshold of 34 points was enough to keep a team in the Premier League. Pardew has games against all of the other current bottom seven sides to come this term, and should aim to take maximum points from those encounters.
Add 18 points onto the 17 procured by Palace so far, and that gives them a final total of 35. In years prior to 2013/14, that still isn’t quite enough, so their end of January home game with struggling Everton and a March match-up at Stoke City are also outings where something is needed.
What’s worrying for the Eagles is their winnable contests are spread out, apart from their three fixtures after Easter. Victories at Sunderland, and then at Selhurst against West Brom and Hull gives Pardew some chance of springtime momentum. Palace are odds-on at 4/9 to stay up.