Eagles aim to keep flying high – Can Palace avoid the drop?

It could be argued that Crystal Palace face the toughest challenge of any newly-promoted team in recent memory of immediately avoiding the drop.

Doing just that will no doubt be the club’s main aim for the upcoming season.  However, that comes as no real surprise given that around half the teams in the league set out with that in mind.

The idea of relegation will not be dismissed by West Brom, who finished eighth in what was largely an enjoyable campaign for Baggies fans given their reputation for bouncing between the top two divisions.  Despite reaching the lofty heights of the Premier League, they still lost more games than they won and were a full 12 points behind seventh-placed Liverpool.  What’s more, they were only nine points from the 40-point mark generally considered to guarantee a club safety.

Why, then, should the Eagles be worried after a campaign which saw half the league sucked into a relegation battle in the final weeks of the season?  It all comes down to the fact that these clubs have been able to strengthen by spending vast amounts of money on new signings and even changing coaching personnel.  Mauricio Pochettino and Paolo Di Canio were drafted in to manage Southampton and Sunderland respectably whilst the season was in full flow.  Now they, along with Mark Hughes who this summer arrived at Stoke, have a full pre-season to get their ideas across and mould the teams in their own way, with the aim of transforming them from relegation candidates to the top half of the Premier League and beyond.

Having lost arguably their best player in Wilfried Zaha to champions Manchester United, Palace will look to reinvest some of the transfer fee, believe to be around an initial £10 million, in making themselves a legitimate threat to the rest of the top flight.  They have not been around since a one-season hurrah in 2004/05, more recently being placed in administration and battling to avoid the drop to League One.  Coming up as champions, Cardiff will look to keep their momentum going, having finally achieved what they have narrowly missed out on for so long.  Hull, meanwhile, have the advantage of spending a couple of seasons in the promised land of the Premier League from 2008 to 2010, which no doubt benefitted them greatly financially and made them a stronger force to deal with in the Championship.

Crystal Palace are here and they bring their eccentric yet loveable manager Ian Holloway with them.  However, the Bristolian has proved that he is not just a joker, successfully guiding a second club to the top flight.  He was unfortunate not to keep Blackpool there in 2011, going down only on the final day of the season, and led them all the way to the play-off final once again in 2012 before suffering defeat to West Ham.

With both failing to do so the last time they were in this position, don’t be surprised to see Ollie and Palace pull out all the stops to stay in the Premier League.