Search

The Selhurst Soapbox: Freedman’s steel has rubbed off on Palace

12:22 12 October 2012

Dougie Freedman as a Crystal Palace player. Photo credit: Steve Morton/EMPICS

Dougie Freedman as a Crystal Palace player. Photo credit: Steve Morton/EMPICS

EMPICS Sport

It was as a player that Dougie Freedman first captured the hearts of Crystal Palace fans. But now as manager of a side on the back of a seven-game unbeaten run, playing attractive attacking football, he is making them fall in love all over again.

About our Blogger

Name: Simon Campbell

Twitter handle: @Si_Campbell_

Regular attendee/Viewer from abroad

Favourite player: Current, Wilf Zaha

Most memorable game: Crystal Palace 5 Brighton 0

Predicted finish: 8th

Freedman was a striker of finesse and unpredictable finesse. Not so perceptible was a steely side to his character that protected him from burly defenders but would also, on occasion, get him into trouble.

It has taken some time but, after a season-and-a-half in charge, he has crafted a Crystal Palace side playing in a manner that recalls something of Freedman the player. There is flair, fast breaks, quick passing and long dribbles. There is also steel.

In recent years Selhurst Park regulars have become used to anti-climatic defeats. Heads would drop at the slightest misfortune, both on and off the pitch. More often than not Palace tended to lose when they went behind, and the crowd would berate them – not anymore.

Before this season you had to go back to 1969 to find the last time Palace overcame a 2-0 deficit, but under Freedman they have done it twice in two weeks. When his Palace side are on the ropes they come out swinging.

"The Crystal Palace glass jaw is a thing of the past"

Simon Campbell

Last Saturday Burnley boss Eddie Howe could have been forgiven for feeling comfortable with his side two goals up after 30 minutes. This barrier did not faze the Palace players though - they struck back with forceful purpose.

What was notable against Burnley was the composure – from the players, from the bench, from the stands – no one was moaning. You could sense the confidence in the players, with hard work and belief, victory was theirs for the taking. And take it they did.

Eighteen months ago Crystal Palace offered the cherubic Howe the chance to be their manager. He opted to leave Bournemouth for the Clarets instead and the Eagles directors turned to Freedman - a decision that appears increasingly foresighted with each passing day.

When the Scot took over at Selhurst Park, Palace were floundering. After advice from fellow Glaswegians Kenny Dalglish and Alex Ferguson, he concentrated on strengthening a porous defence. Once his side were harder to beat he eventually introduced more attacking license.

Crystal Palace manager Dougie Freedman. Photo credit: Adam Davy/EMPICSCrystal Palace manager Dougie Freedman. Photo credit: Adam Davy/EMPICS

While Howe has spent considerable sums assembling an expensive squad, Freedman has worked with relatively meager resources, but by trusting his instincts in the transfer market and adhering to his tactical beliefs, he has slowly built a side with a creditable chance of contesting promotion this season.

Palace’s current situation is all the more remarkable given their dreadful start to the season where they lost their first three league games and were spanked 4-1 by League One Preston in the League Cup.

It takes a strong manager to emerge from such a sequence with the squad, board and supporters still on side. It takes an even stronger one to then take his team on their best run of form in years.

Where once consecutive defeats would have been the catalyst for a season of strife, this Palace side seem galvanised by setbacks. Like their manager, they have their steely side. The Crystal Palace glass jaw is a thing of the past.

Related articles

0 comments

Latest Sport Stories

Mauricio Pochettino. Pic: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

Mauricio Pochettino admits his Tottenham tenure has not started as smoothly as he imagined in the summer, but he insists he has the support of chairman Daniel Levy.

Kyle Walker of Tottenham Hotspur (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Mauricio Pochettino says Kyle Walker has returned to training and could return in December – but the Spurs boss has injury concerns ahead of Sunday’s trip to Hull.

Thu, 09:00
Highgate Harriers' Ryan McKinlay (right) finishes in a dead heat with his good friend Tom Beedell. Pic: Martyn Loach

Highgate Harriers’ Ryan McKinlay made a passionate plea to be allowed to enter a “historically significant race” on Sunday – and he ended up coming joint first after a dead heat with his good friend Tom Beedell.

Thu, 08:00
Alan Clyne of Scotland is the second seed at the London Open squash tournament, which will be held at Cumberland in Hampstead

Cumberland Lawn Tennis Club will host the annual international London Open squash tournament next week, with $20,000 (£12,800) of prize money up for grabs.

Most read sport

Protesters have been warned they are banned from setting up camp at the landmark.

John Cantlie features in the new IS video, in which he talks about a recent failed military attack.

From Britain First’s Facebook posts, you would assume they’d won the Rochester by-election. They didn’t, but they’re claiming it anyway.

At 100 years old, this was Ruby Holt’s first visit to the beach – and the first time she saw the ocean.

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Hampstead & Highgate Express e-edition today E-edition