Stark shift in pol­icy for Palace

By hir­ing De Boer, Pre­mier League sur­vivors seem to be look­ing at the long term, writes Richard Jolly

The National - News - Sport - - FOOTBALL -

It feels a coup for Crys­tal Palace. They are not ac­cus­tomed to ap­point­ing former In­ter Mi­lan man­agers, or those with four league ti­tles to their name.

Frank de Boer’s ar­rival ap­pears to mark a stark shift in pol­icy and a change of eras. It can be seen as fur­ther ev­i­dence of the Pre­mier League’s pulling power as he bol­sters the list of man­agers em­ployed in grander sur­round­ings abroad who have joined seem­ingly smaller clubs in Eng­land. In his case, an idio­syn­cratic one.

There was a cor­ner of south Lon­don that seemed for­ever Bri­tain. While for­eign man­agers abounded else­where, since re­turn­ing to the top flight in 2013, Palace have been man­aged by Ian Hol­loway, Tony Pulis, Neil Warnock, Alan Pardew, Sam Al­lardyce and the care­taker Keith Millen.

They are not all di­nosaurs, but col­lec­tively they pro­duced a dis­tinct old-school feel, one that was only am­pli­fied by the an­ti­quated na­ture of Sel­hurst Park.

A pro­gres­sive feel has been in­jected now. De Boer brings the Ajax ethos from a club where he won the Uefa Cham­pi­ons League as a stylish de­fender and four Ere­di­visie ti­tles as a pre­co­cious man­ager. His ca­pac­ity to de­velop and im­prove young play­ers is re­flected in Ajax’s prof­itable trans­fer ac­tiv­ity.

The list of those who pro­gressed un­der his guid­ance – Luis Suarez, Jan Ver­tonghen, Toby Alder­weireld, Da­ley Blind, Arka­diusz Mi­lik, Davy Klaassen – may of­fer en­cour­age­ment that Palace will be trans­formed. Their dress­ing rooms have been no­table for the pre­dom­i­nance of se­nior pro­fes­sion­als.

Those in their early twen­ties, such as Wil­fried Zaha, have tended to be out­num­bered.

That is not the Ajax way. Nor, re­ally, is a style of play that has of­ten re­lied upon counter-at­tack­ing at pace, even­tu­ally al­lied with Al­lardyce’s peren­nial fo­cus on de­fen­sive so­lid­ity.

Palace av­er­aged 46.8 per cent pos­ses­sion and a 73.4 per cent pass com­ple­tion rate last sea­son, fig­ures that ranked them 15th and 16th in the divi­sion re­spec­tively. De Boer should change that: while no Louis van Gaal devo­tee, ac­cu­sa­tions of side­ways pass­ing have been lev­elled at both.

Yet ef­fect­ing an at­ti­tu­di­nal switch may not be sim­ple. In one sense, Al­lardyce’s abrupt re­tire­ment was ideal news: he ex­cels at keep­ing teams up but with an ever greater em­pha­sis on im­me­di­acy. If short-ter­mism seems en­trenched at a club with 10 per­ma­nent man­agers since 2010, it was also un­der­stand­able.

Pulis, Pardew and Al­lardyce all in­her­ited sides in rel­e­ga­tion strug­gles. De Boer al­lows Palace to plan for the long term.

It is eas­ier said than done. Sum­mer ap­point­ments tend to be made with fu­tur­is­tic schemes, mid-sea­son ones when am­bi­tious ideas have back­fired.

De Boer’s ill-fated time at In­ter is a case in point, as well as of­fer­ing an il­lus­tra­tion that a fine start is im­por­tant. Now the feel­ing is that Palace have com­par­a­tively lit­tle to spend af­ter Al­lardyce paid out around £35 mil­lion (Dh164m) in Jan­uary for Pa­trick van Aan­holt, Jef­frey Schlupp and Luka Milivo­je­vic. Some in the cur­rent squad scarcely seem De Boer play­ers. Un­like at Ajax, there is no con­veyor belt of young tal­ent pro­duc­tive as Palace’s academy has proved in the past.

It forms part of the in­trigue. Palace is prob­a­bly not De Boer’s ideal club.

In some re­spects, Southamp­ton would have been a bet­ter fit for him. But his ar­rival also in­di­cates that he had few other op­tions. His rep­u­ta­tion was dam­aged in Italy by his 14-game, 85day stint in charge of In­ter.

He had a strong pref­er­ence to work in Eng­land and it is thought he may have even con­sid­ered Cham­pi­onship jobs.

Such is the ap­peal Eng­land ex­erts, but if De Boer’s first task now is to keep Palace out of the sec­ond flight, the big­ger job is to build some­thing sus­tain­able and last­ing in a fash­ion his Bri­tish pre­de­ces­sors did not.

John Phillips / Getty Im­ages

Frank de Boer’s chal­lenge will be to build some­thing sus­tain­able.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.