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From The Stands: Valencia

5 August 2016


By Simon Mills

Here we go again, just a few days before the roller coaster hurtles us back off on another exciting, thrilling, terrifying ride of another season and boy did I miss it! Before we get there though, we face a Spanish giant at Selhurst and I’m sure I’m not the only one praying for another signing or two.

First, I’d like to welcome Steve Mandanda, Andros Townsend and James Tomkins to the club! Three excellent signings who, I am sure, will fit in beautifully at Palace. I haven’t heard a single supporter who wasn’t pleased by their arrivals and they certainly add some real quality to the squad.

Steve Mandanda comes with a big reputation in France, where the 4 times Ligue 1 goalkeeper of the year joined from Marseille last month. It’s fair to say that most fans felt we needed someone special between the sticks, despite an impressive summer for Welshman Wayne Hennessey. Stevie certainly ticks that box and the heartbroken reaction of Olympique’s support is evident in itself as to the quality our newest Frenchman brings to the club.

Andros is a player I am very excited about, as I have been eager to see him come to SE25 for some time. An England international, who most felt should have gone to the Euros this summer, we are all well aware of his lethal left foot, but he can also offer us many pinpoint deliveries and provided we have the right man/men on the end of them, I can see many assists coming from his crosses this season.

Finally (at least for now, I hope!), James Tomkins joins us from West Ham and again, his pedigree is demonstrated by the numerous displays of Hammers fans I have seen who are truly disappointed by his departure. As much as I love both Scotty Dann and Damien Delaney, I have made no secret of my desire for a new centre back so seeing a player with James’ ability come in is more than welcome.

We have certainly been working hard to strengthen the team (and squad). There is a feeling we aren’t too far away from having something very special here and provided we can get ourselves a quality striker or two, as Alan Pardew has suggested this week, then we could be looking forward to very encouraging times at Selhurst Park this season. In a social media/instant news kind of world, we as supporters, in the meantime, need to try to relax a little and let these deals play out with the faith that those in charge are doing what they need to in the best interests of the club.

What we can discuss and debate with good heart is the upcoming visit of Los Che on Saturday. It’s been a while since we had a friendly at Selhurst, let alone up against a huge club like Valencia and I’m hoping for a great game where we can see our new stars make their debuts. Facing some great competition at home just a week before the season starts usually gives a better reflection of the team compared to most pre-season friendly run outs and I’m hoping for an entertaining display full of the pride and passion we have come to expect.

It certainly won’t be an easy game should we come up against the Spanish club’s best and brightest. Euro 2016 winner Nani is just one of an array of stars we could encounter, including; Paco Alcacer, Rodrigo, Diego Alves, Daniel Parejo, Aymen Abdennour, Joao Cancelo and Zakaria Bakkali just to name a few! It is a testament to the strength of the Spanish La Liga that a squad bloated with talent finished 12th last season.

It will be great to get back to that place we all love so much (even if it could do with a bit of a facelift!) - even with a month’s worth of European football to help stem the summer boredom, it still feels like an age since the traditional last-day gaze around the stadium. Another season awaits, but before that, let’s try to enjoy one last relaxed day out to watch the boys in red and blue (or should that be blue and red now?!) before the pressure cooker of the Premier League starts the following week.

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