Crystal Palace’s extra-time win over Watford in the Championship play-off final means we now know the identities of the three clubs promoted to the Premier League.
Crystal Palace’s extra-time win over Watford in the Championship play-off final means we now know the identities of the three clubs promoted to the Premier League. Each will need to strengthen in an attempt to remain in the top flight, with the summer recruitment process one of the most important times of the season for these clubs. After looking at five potential signings for Hull City and Cardiff City, we will assess five potential for Ian Holloway and Palace.
At the end of August, a hopeless Palace sat at the bottom of the Championship after three defeats from three also being dumped out of the Capital One Cup by a 4-1 defeat at the hand of League One Preston. However, a 2-1 win over Sheffield Wednesday on 1st September followed, and nine months later, the Eagles are preparing their squad for life in the Premier League, not League One as that early sticky patch may have suggested. The question since Monday’s play-off triumph has been whether Palace should stick or twist. The club’s owners have suggested they will not risk the club’s future by adopting QPR’s ‘spend, spend, spend’ model and have instead pointed to the measured approach to tailoring their squad for the Premier League made by the likes of Norwich, Swansea and West Bromwich Albion in recent years. Nevertheless, they will need to strengthen. So who will they look at?
Wilfried Zaha (Winger, Manchester United)
Much of Palace’s transfer activity will directly or indirectly involve the winger who came through their ranks and was the hero in their play-off semi-final victory at Brighton. Either they will have to replace their biggest rising star or they will get him back on loan for another year. Ideally, they would have him back. Mixed reports have been circling over whether new Manchester United manager David Moyes would be willing to let his new club’s new £15 million man leave on loan, especially with the poor form of United’s wingers despite their 20latest title win. If a deal for Zaha is not possible, Palace will look at Bristol City’s Albert Adomah, who looks set to leave Ashton Gate for around £1.5million after their relegation. Blackpool pair Tom Ince and Matt Phillips have also been rumoured to interest Ian Holloway who managed them at Blackpool, though they would face stiff competition, especially for Ince with Liverpool interested. Other wingers they could look at are Stephen Hunt who will be available on a free transfer after his Wolves contract expired and David Bentley who finally looks set to end his Tottenham nightmare, though wages could be a stumbling block.
Stephen Dobbie (Forward, Brighton & Hove Albion)
Dobbie has been on loan at Selhurst Park from Brighton since January. It is the third time the 30-year-old has been signed on a temporary basis by Ian Holloway and this time he looks set to make the move permanent. He failed to settle at Brighton after moving to the South Coast from Swansea and is likely to want to test himself in the Premier League after failing to establish himself in the top flight so far despite this being his third promotion via the play-offs in the last four years. Expect a deal to be completed within days.
Charlie Adam (Midfielder, Stoke City)
Adam’s career has faltered since he parted ways with Holloway when he left Blackpool for Liverpool in the summer of 2011. Holloway is a known fan and a move could tempt the Scotsman. He would add quality to Palace’s midfield and Palace fans would hope that their manager would be able to marry his undoubted technical ability with consistent form. It remains to be seen whether new Stoke manager Mark Hughes will want Adam, 27, to be in his plans but there is a chance he will, with his playing style more suited to Adam’s game than that of previous manager Tony Pulis. If he was forced to look elsewhere, Holloway could look at Wigan’s FA Cup hero—who’s cropped up as likely to be on the wanted lists of Cardiff and Hull City on these pages—Ben Watson, who used to play for Palace. Jake Livermore is another name being mentioned and the Tottenham midfielder, 23, is likely to want a move away from White Hart Lane after failing to establish himself in the first team at the age of 23.
Michael Thwaite (Defender, Perth Glory)
The Australian international defender, 30, has interested a number of clubs in England according to his agent, with Middlesbrough, Leicester and Blackpool the other clubs mentioned. But the lure of the Premier League could help Palace, who are likely to watch him playing for Australia in their upcoming games against Iraq, Jordan and Japan. He will also take on Manchester United for the Australian A-League All Stars as part of the Premier League Champions’ pre-season tour in July. Another defender linked with the Eagles is Barcelona’s 22-year-old Marc Bartra. The La Liga giants still see him as a long-term successor to Carles Puyol and could well let him go on loan for first team experience after his nervous display in the Champions League semi-final against Bayern Munich. Palace could well face a battle from West Ham United, though, who have also been strongly credited with an interest. He is in Spain’s squad for the fast-approaching European Under 21 Championship in Israel.
Peter Odemwingie (Striker, West Bromwich Albion)
After bizarrely trying to engineer himself a move to QPR in January, Odemwingie is certain to leave West Brom and Palace are one of the favourites to take the Nigerian international, 31. Despite his antics last season, Odemwingie is a proven goal scorer in the Premier League, with a total of 25 in the previous two seasons and Ian Holloway will be keen to add firepower to his attack. Despite their play-off win, Kevin Phillips’s age means he will not be an option as a regular starter should Palace decide to offer him a contract and Aaron Wilbraham looked short of quality as he deputised for injured top scorer Glenn Murray in the play-offs. Another option is Carlton Cole who is a free agent after leaving West Ham. A number of Premier League clubs are likely to be interested in 29-year-old Cole, but the suggestions are that his preferred option is a move to the MLS in the United States. Palace have also declared their interest in Javier Acuna, the Real Madrid B striker who has spent the season on loan at Spanish Second Division club Girona.