For any club that has suffered from decades of under investment and also have been in administration as recently as 6 years ago, promotion to the Premier League is a difficult task.
For many, achieving promotion is the hard part but that isn’t the case. Staying in the Premier League and becoming established is even harder because, as Caitlyn Jenner has discovered, transitioning is problematic, uncomfortable and produces a lot of unhappy people.
As we enter our 4th consecutive Premier League campaign we are beginning to hear sounds of discontent from Selhurst Park about players who are unhappy with their contracts. The players in question were said to be Wilfred Zaha, Jason Puncheon and Yannick Bolasie.
It is unclear when the sounds of discontent began or what sparked them but it is interesting to note that of the three players mentioned the only one who is due to leave is the one with no previous connections to the club. Why might this be?
Wilfred Zaha has been with Palace since he was a youth player, apart from a gap year in Manchester, and is probably not only grateful that the club rescued him but feel indebted to the chairman with whom he has a good relationship.
Jason Puncheon watched the team as a boy and his mother still lives in the area. While he may not feel as connected to the club as Zaha, because he has played elsewhere, he probably feels a certain level of gratitude to Palace for rescuing his career by signing him from Southampton.
So what about Yannick Bolasie? He seemingly has no connection to the club at all having been born in France and grown up in north-west London. Like Puncheon, he played for a couple of other clubs before sighing for Palace in his early twenties.
Has their close ties to Palace made Zaha and Puncheon think again about their contract dispute with the club? Was it mainly driven by Bolasie’s dissatisfaction and desire to move? Was this the problem in the tail end of last season?
Whatever the situation were both players to leave the club in the circumstances in which Bolasie is due to leave it would be something they would find it difficult to live with because of their links to the community.
But the problem doesn’t end with those three. Out of our current squad we have 7 players who were with the club when we were promoted are: Julian Speroni, Joel Ward, Damien Delaney, Mile Jedinak, Jonny Williams, Yannick Bolasie & Wilfred Zaha.
When a club is promoted their players are still on Championship wages. The problem comes when you want to sign players to improve the squad. This usually this involves buying players from Premier League teams who, if you are lucky, will still be trying to establish themselves or have just been relegated and won’t cost too much money.
Players in our current squad who fall into this bracket include: Jason Puncheon, Jordan Mutch Joe Ledley, Zeki Fryers, Martin Kelly and Frazier Campbell.
You might even try to poach shining lights from the Championship, such as: Scott Dann, Bakary Sako, Wayne Hennessey or Chun-Yung Lee.
This policy can only get you so far and can be a little hit and miss. We have seen that a gem can be uncovered, such as Scott Dann, but also players who don’t work out, such as Frazier Campbell.
So, what can you do? You can go all in and buy established international players such as Yohan Cabaye, Pape Souare and Andros Townsend. Job done, no problem! No, BIG problem!
For example, it is rumoured that Yohan Cabaye is earning about £70k whereas Joe Ledley is on £25k. Andros Townsend is on £70k and Yannick Bolasie is on £25k.
So, how do you tell Bolasie that he can’t earn as much as Townsend when he has played more Premier League games and has more international caps? It is a slippery road to resentment, chips on shoulders and dressing room arguments.
This is the main reason why promoted clubs buy from the Championship to try and keep a wage structure. Last season when Emmanuel Adebayor signed for 5 months and was reported to be on £100k a week, albeit most of it paid for by Tottenham, could anyone justify why he was earning £100k and Connor Wickham about £35k instead?
No, and would Wickham be justified in being pissed off? Especially as he score more goals and ran more in games. There has been no suggestion that Wickham was upset with his contract but you can see how easily these things spiral out of control.
We are in uncharted territory and we need to make decisions such as, does Bolasie deserve to be paid as much as Townsend? I guess, judging by his imminent transfer, the answer is no!