The New Season Is Here – The Story of The Summer (Part II)
In part two of the recap of the summer I go through the departures and arrivals at Selhurst Park during the summer and look forward to the first game.
Making space for new arrivals
With the season finished and Big Sam having left the building the club set about releasing some players.
Of the players released were some notable squad players in Fraizer Campbell, Zeki Fryers, Mathieu Flamini and Joe Ledley.
Other notable players released were Kewsi Appiah and Jonathan Benteke, brother of Christian plus 6 development squad players.
Of course we also lost our two loan players in Loic Remy and Mamadou Sakho, the latter being the star of the last 3 months of the season.
On 11th July, Steve Mandanda finally left the club to resign for Marseilles in a move that has been in the making since November, just 4 months after joining us.
As with other subjects in this article, there are a lot of coals that are best left undisturbed however I want to say one thing.
No matter what the problem was with Mandanda, the fact he was a professional footballer on a rumoured £80k a week and playing for a team fighting for their Premier League survival it is if nothing else totally unprofessional the way in which he conducted himself while he was with the club.
You can say what you like about Big Sam, and plenty have in the past, but he is no mug. Sammy Lee is no mug. The rest of the backroom team are no mugs. They would not have a player like Mandanda in the squad and not use him in some way if he was acting in a professional manner.
I can’t write more than I have without opening myself to possible legal action but suffice to say I am disgusted in his attitude. It is one thing to turn up in physically and go through the motions to pick up your wages at the end of the week and it is another to turn up in person, train like you care and give your all for your employers.
New arrivals at the Palace
At the time of writing we have made three signings ahead of our first game of the season.
We have signed Ruben Loftus-Cheek on loan from Chelsea, Jaïro Riedewald from Ajax for £8m and Timothy Fosu-Mensah on loan from Manchester United.
So far so good and the players we’ve signed are all good prospects though I am not sure they should be thought of as being players we should depend on for the whole season. They are good prospects but are also young players.
Don’t get me wrong, if they are good enough then they are old enough. I just think they might not be the correct players to bring in and expect to be the backbone of our team.
With the holes we have in the squad I would expect us to sign at least 4 players before the transfer window shuts. We need a goalkeeper, striker, right wing-back and a winger.
The problem area we have will be in signing a striker. We play with one striker so whoever we sign either has to be better than Christian Benteke or accept he will be playing second fiddle to Benteke. Playing second fiddle means sitting on the bench a lot of the time.
This would indicate to me that we will sign a young striker who won’t expect to be a starter.
We still have some other players that we need to move on but as there is a distinct lack of money we will rely on youth players, which was one of Frank de Boer’s selling points when he got the job.
While we need to move on players like Jordan Mutch we won’t have the money to adequately replace them with better players.
And that also brings me to what I think might be our biggest problem this season. Bringing in the development players. I fully back the need to bring through players and I don’t think we should throw money around but do we have the talent there to bring through?
In recent years we have not given youth players enough of a chance for one reason or another. Big Sam couldn’t do it because when you are in a relegation fight you don’t throw youth players in. As for Pardew’s era, that is probably his biggest failing, the lack of bringing through youth players.
Loans are less risky but not cost free
I need to point something out. A lot of fans on social media seem to think loan players are cost free. They are not, they cost a lot of money!
Take the loan signing of Thomas Ince back when Tony Pulis signed him in January 2014. When we signed him from Blackpool we paid £1m to sign him plus wages!
In recent years we’ve seen Chelsea make a business out of loaning 50 odd players out a season. It helps bring in a lot of revenue and helps to fund new players with regards to Financial Fair Play.
So signing a player on loan is less risky than paying a massive fee, as we saw last season with Loic Remy, but they also take money from the transfer budget.
I can think Mamadou Sakho cost us £3m plus wages so possibly £5m in total. Money well spent and as with our two loan signings we’ve made this summer, probably players we couldn’t dream of signing on a permanent basis.
And here we are
We look forward to our first game of the season on Saturday when we welcome newly promoted Huddersfield to Selhurst Park.
With their visit they bring with them former Palace players Thomas Ince and Mark Hudson, who has recently announced his retirement from playing and has taken up a coaching position.
I think it will be a tough game. They have a fast paced ‘up and at them’ style whereas we will be adapting to a new style of play which is a little slower possession based.
They will be up for it and fancy getting a result. We are there for the taking and while my heart wants to think we’ll win 2-1 my instinct is leading me to think we’ll lose 1-2.
I haven’t been fantastically impressed with us pre-season and though I don’t count those performances as an indication of how good we will play I felt we were a little toothless even if we had a lot of possession.
As usual, I’m hoping for the best but expecting the worst.