A hero returns and helps rebuild a Palace
October 9, 2012 in Championship
I hate Dougie Freedman. OK, that’s not really true but hear me out. In May 2001, his last minute goal for Crystal Palace away at Stockport sent my team (Huddersfield Town) down. I was 14 years old, balling my eyes out and cursing the name Freedman all the way home. 12 years on and Freedman is a Palace legend and since taking over as manager in January 2011, has stabilised and now seemingly mobilised the perennial Championship strugglers.
Freedman looks like a stiff breeze might knock him over, but he has Palace playing fast, attacking football and his young team are sitting pretty in the play-off spots as we head into the international break. They have won their last 4 games, beating 3 of the leagues big guns (Cardiff, Bolton and Wolves) in the process and their win against Burnley this weekend showed that the team have steel as they came from 2-0 down to win a thrilling 4-3.
Crystal Palace has long had a great production line of young talent. Recent exports include Victor Moses and Nathanial Clyne. Since Moses’ departure, the man to step into his shoes as the next big prospect has been Wilfred Zaha. The pacey winger has scouts all over him but for once in Palace’s recent history, they may not have to sell at a knock down price thanks to their stabilised finances. The fact that no one has yet taken a chance on Zaha is perhaps testament to his rawness, but with 4 goals so far this season he could be in line for a January move upwards.
Dougie Freedman has done wonders at Palace and it perhaps goes to show what a club can do for a legendary player and vice versa. Could you imagine Freedman taking any other club so far forward? Not really. Palace has also shown incredible intelligence in partnering Freedman with Lennie Lawrence. The experienced manager has seen most things in his career and being there for Freedman to bounce ideas off must be an invaluable tool.
As much as I used to dislike Freedman back in 2001, I hope Palace do well this season. They have struggled consistently for many seasons and it’s always good to see a decent set of fans getting reward for a few seasons of rubbish. How far can Freedman take Palace? I’m not sure, but if I was a gambling man I’d definitely be looking at the odds on them sneaking a play-off spot this season.