It’s been a month since Frank de Boer arrived at Crystal Palace with his particular version of total football in tow and ready to make its mark in English football. Outwardly, very little has happened since then apart from the inevitable bedding in period for the new manager and his coaching staff but here we are, with all of three weeks left before we step back into Premier League football again.
The Premier League Asia trophy has been the main date in the Crystal Palace calendar and one that, on a corporate level at the very least can be considered a success. Few footballing conclusions should be drawn from our exploits in Asia however, all the cliches about pre-season work are there for a reason. de Boer made it clear that we travelled to Hong Kong with the intention of winning the trophy, anything other mindset would have been counter-productive, but ultimately he will have had his mind on much wider goals.
We saw that with the experimentation that went on both against Liverpool and West Brom. A move to a 3-4-3 or variation on that basic formation will be no easy task, for a couple of reasons. For a start it’s a fairly new idea for the players, this is unlikely to be a system they’ve spent too long working on in their careers and so there’ll inevitably be a period of adjustment while de Boer and his staff coach not just the formation, but the decision making and mindset that accompanies it.
You also need the personnel to fit the system. Townsend at right wing back was certainly not a long term thought and I’m sure de Boer will be as unconvinced as I was about a back three that consists of two right backs and Damien Delaney. When Dann and Tomkins are up to speed we’ll be in a better place but don’t be surprised to see our summer business strengthening the bottom end of the pitch as opposed to the top as a result.
Though we didn’t come away with the trophy, or even make it to the final, one takeaway was the continued brilliance of Wilfried Zaha. It was difficult to heap enough praise onto him last season, in what was an abysmal period under Pardew he stood up and delivered and continued to demonstrate his mercurial talent to mesmerising effect even after the teams fortunes improved. Thankfully for Crystal Palace fans, if the Asia trophy is anything to go by, that looks as if it’s carried on into this season and I’m excited to see the heights he can hit this time round
Since the conclusion of the competition we’ve seen the completion of our first permanent deal. We had to wait a little while, with many ‘will he, won’t he’ questions circling but in Jairo Riedewald we have an excellent acquisition. The deal for Jairo reminds me of Milivojevic’s signature back in January in many ways. For a very reasonable price in today’s market we have brought in a player that has both quality and potential, but due to the insular Premier League-centric world in which many of us live one who, like Luka, is a relative unknown..
At 20 he is far from the finished product, but in a world in which Kyle Walker and Ross Barkley are worth £50 million this could prove to be another shrewd match, both financially and with respect to his football philosophy. If we are to fully adopt a more aggressive, possession based philosophy we must have players who can play football and with all the respect in the world, Damien Delaney and his raking diagonals are not the answer. Jairo is surely a step in the right direction.