Crystal Palace manager Ian Holloway has been very busy this summer bringing in no fewer than fourteen players into the club. Somewhat of a surprise package in the Championship last season, Holloway clearly felt that new additions were imperative in order to improve his team’s chances of survival. What is notable is Holloway’s decision to strengthen every area of his squad, signing defenders, midfielders and forwards as well as a goalkeeper.
Jason Puncheon – With the departure of Wilfried Zaha, the Eagles were in need of some pace and directness on the wings. Puncheon’s varied career has seen him play in the Premier League for the past three seasons with three different clubs. His loan move to Palace means they are his fourth, and he will be hoping to cement a regular place in Holloway’s side. Last season he managed to score 6 goals and contribute one assist, and it is this type of input that could help Palace to stay up.
Jose Campaña – The former Sevilla midfield joins Palace with a glowing reputation. Campaña captained Spain at the recent Under-20 World Cup and could be a valuable addition for the Eagles. Comfortable in possession, Campaña is typical of Spanish midfielders of the recent era. He has already started two games for Palace and looked at home in their midfield during their 3-1 victory against Sunderland. At only £2 million, the signing of Campaña looks like a very good piece of business by Holloway and his team.
Marouane Chamakh – Another player with Premier League experience, Holloway will want Chamakh to weigh in with his fair share of goals for Palace after netting in his first league start. Chamakh had endured a miserable time at Arsenal and a brief loan spell at West Ham during the second part of last season. During the 2010/11 Premier League season, his first at Arsenal, Chamakh scored seven goals and provided four assists. This was at a time when the player’s confidence was high, and if the Palace management are able to get the best out of him, Chamakh could be a good addition.
Cameron Jerome – Palace moved late on deadline day to secure Jerome on a season-long loan from Stoke City. Jerome made twenty-six appearances last season, and eighteen of these came from off the bench. This explains Jerome’s total of three league goals last season, and the lure of first team football was most likely instrumental in his decision to move to Selhurst Park. Jerome offers Palace something that their other strikers do not, pace. Away from home his directness could become important to Palace playing on the counter.
Barry Bannan – When Bannan broke into the Aston Villa first team three years ago, it looked like he had a bright future at the club. Last season Bannan made eighteen starts for the club, but by the start of pre-season for the upcoming season, it was clear that he no longer figured in manager Paul Lambert’s plans. A proposed move to Blackburn broke down, so Palace swooped to get their man. Bannan has managed six assists in the past three seasons, and he will have to break into a Palace midfield currently manned by Kagisho Dikgaco, Mile Jedinak and Jose Campaña.
Adrian Mariappa – The Jamaican international joins Palace after spending a solitary season at Reading last term. Previously of Watford, Mariappa will bring a much needed quicker option for the Eagles at centre back. He will also bring some leadership to a back line if selected as he was previous Watford captain.
Dwight Gayle – Palace’s most expensive outlay of the summer at £6 million, Gayle has started life at Palace brightly. The forward has started all three of Palace games so far scoring once. Two seasons ago, Gayle was lining up for non-league side Bishop’s Stortford albeit on loan from Dagenham and Redbridge. A season full of goals later, he joined Peterborough and managed thirteen goals in the Championship last term. His signing does represent something of a gamble for Palace at the price, but at twenty-three years of age, a lot of pace and a good touch, Gayle could turn out to be a good addition for Eagles.
Jimmy Kebe – Kebe has long terrorised defences in the Championship with Reading and was given the opportunity to do so in the Premier League last season. In only 16 Premier League appearances last season, Kebe managed five goals. A goal scoring winger can be helpful in any team, so that Holloway has brought in Kebe is not too much of surprise. At a fee of the £2 million, the move could be down to the players desire to play in the Premier league again.
Jerome Thomas – Thomas was signed on a free transfer by Palace early in the transfer window after being released by West Brom. Thomas will find that there is some competition at Palace now after the signings of Kebe, Puncheon, Gayle and existing wingers like Yannick Bolasie already at the club. What Thomas does provide is more experience to a Palace side which before all of these late signings, lacked experience at Premier League level. Currently out injured, Thomas will look to get into the Palace side when he returns.
Jack Hunt – The highly rated full back was signed from Huddersfield on deadline day for £2 million. Hunt has been signed on a four-year deal. This deal could well be one for future as at only twenty-two; Hunt will be behind current Palace right-back Joel Ward. He will want to challenge Ward however as he has made eighty-six league appearances in the past two years at Huddersfield and is used to being a starter.
As well as all these signings, Palace have secured the services of Stephen Dobbie from Brighton. Holloway will be aware of what Dobbie brings after managing him at his previous club Blackpool as well as on a loan spell last season at the Eagles. Elliot Grandin is another signing that has previously worked with Holloway after being signed from Blackpool on a free transfer. Veteran goalkeeper Neil Alexander has joined the club on a free transfer after leaving Rangers in the summer. Alexander will provide goalkeeping cover for Eagles’ stalwart Julian Speroni. Frenchman Florian Marange has been brought in on a free transfer from Bordeaux. The Defender will challenge Dean Moxey and Jonathan Parr for the left back birth. Palace’s final signing of the summer was midfielder Adléne Guedioura from Nottingham Forest. The midfielder is known for his ‘all-action’ midfield style and will bring more depth to Palace’s squad. He also has Premier League experience for Wolves.
So with all of these signings, the question is whether Holloway will be able to get all of these players to gel. Palace now boast a squad with a completely different dynamic. There is definitely a mix of physicality and technique in the additions that they have made. Most of their signings are either top Championship or lower end Premier League players. Whether they will be good enough to keep Palace up remains to be seen, but they are in a decent position with their manager Ian Holloway making some shrewd signings.