Last season Crystal Palace finished tenth in the Premier League table after prodigal son Alan Pardew returned to take the reins of the club in January.
Pardew took the Eagles from relegation battlers to midtable safety and the fans will be dreaming of their team pushing on to the next level this season.
Alan Pardew is an Eagles hero and icon. He was part of the Palace team that achieved the clubs highest ever top-flight finish in 1990-91 when the Eagles finished third. Last season he managed the Eagles to their highest ever top-flight finish in 23 years.
When Pardew swapped the relative safety of midtable with Newcastle for a relegation battle with his former-club it seemed a strange move at the time. However the desire to leave the Magpies and stop working under Newcastle owner Mike Ashley is believed to have helped influence his decision.
The fact that Pardew enjoyed the best days of his playing career at Selhurst Park also must have had an effect on the decision to return to the capital.
Palace had thrived in the previous campaign under Tony Pulis and was actually playing some good football under the man that had been labelled a long ball merchant.
Pardew has built on that style of play and the new players he has added to the squad suggests he wants to continue to improve the quality of football that the Eagles produce.
Crystal Palace looks to have pulled off one of the coups of the transfer window by signing French international midfielder Yohan Cabaye for a club-record £10million fee.
Pardew managed Cabaye at Newcastle, where he shined and earned a big move to big spending French giants PSG in January 2014. Despite having impressed in the Premier League Cabaye struggled to hold down a regular place for the Parisians and was put up for sale this summer.
At 29-years-old Cabaye may be regarded as a player who carries little sell-on value, but he is also a player that will provide a touch of class to the Eagles central midfield.
I am sure a lot of fans from other clubs in the top-flight would have liked their team to have signed the French midfielder this summer. The signing is definitely a signal of intent from Palace that they are no longer looking down and rather looking up.
The other interesting signing is that of young England under-21 striker Patrick Bamford on-loan from Chelsea. The 21-year-old is highly-rated by his parent club and gained valuable first team experience from a season-long loan spell at Middlesbrough last season.
The youngster made 44 appearances for Boro and scored 19 goals helping the north east outfit to the Championship play-off final, where Aitor Karanka’s team were beaten by Norwich. The previous campaign he had scored 21 goals for MK Dons in League One.
It seems the youngster is now ready to test himself at the highest level and recently scored a 20 minute hat-trick against non-league Bromley in a 6-0 pre-season victory for the Eagles.
Bamford does face a lot of competition to earn a starting place in the Palace team though, with the likes of Glenn Murray, Dwight Gayle, Fraizer Campbell and Marouane Chamakh already in the Palace ranks.
Palace are showing even more ambition and adding to their strike-force having agreed a £9million fee with Sunderland for striker Connor Wickham. The 22-year-old now looks set to travel to London to have a medical ahead of the proposed move.
The Palace hierarchy’s lack of financial support was cited as the reason why Tony Pulis left the club, but it seems that they are backing Alan Pardew in the transfer market. The club have spent around £14million on three players so far, which could rise to £23million with the signing of Wickham.
By Premier League standards the Eagles layout is not big money, but by Palace standards it has to be regarded as ambitious spending from the clubs owners.
Palace could be a very exciting team to watch this season. The additions of Bamford and Cabaye will only make the Palace team stronger. The Eagles already have the likes of Wilfried Zaha, Jason Puncheon and Yannick Bolasie to excite the Selhurst Park faithful. The new additions will only add to that excitement.
However, there is one word of caution in the fact that Yannick Bolasie is being heavily linked with a summer exit, with Tottenham supposedly lurking in the shadows waiting to pounce. It is vital that Eagles attempt to keep hold their mercurial star.
For me Crystal Palace has been quietly building a very exciting and capable squad of players. There is no doubt in my mind that next season the Eagles will continue to surprise teams and with a spot of luck they may just better last season’s tenth place finish in the Premier League.
Can Crystal Palace move forward this season?
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