Firstly can I wish you all a very Happy 2017, let’s hope we can give you something to enjoy in the coming year starting with this evening.
Tonight sees Swansea City make the trip from south Wales to south London, and I would like to welcome their directors, management, players and fans here.
Much has changed since we were last in SE25, and I would like to of course welcome Sam Allardyce to Crystal Palace Football Club and wish him every success in his new role. Tonight is his first home game as our manager, and I am looking forward to him experiencing a real Selhurst Park welcome.
We had to make a tough decision just before Christmas and asked Alan Pardew to step down as manager. It was a difficult thing to do as in his two years in the position Alan has helped the club make some big strides forward on and off the field, and always had the best of intentions for his beloved Eagles that he served so well as a player and manager. As a crowd your support in the stadium has been unwavering in spite of results and we will need everything that we have in the next few months.
It’s never an easy decision to change managers and whilst the league results over the past year have been disappointing, the outcomes of both the 2014/15 and 2015/16 seasons were exceptional, with Premier League football secured and an FA Cup final appearance, and that along with bringing some excellent players to the football club should be seen as Alan’s legacy.
Certainly there were no lack of candidates willing to take on the task and it’s another measure of where we have got to that so many people wanted to come and manage here. Sam was however the standout candidate as his achievements in the game are vast. He has left nearly all his clubs in a higher league position than he found them and he’s never been relegated from the Premier League despite finding himself in tough situations.
These factors made him our first-choice candidate and the conversations between us were very good. Getting Sam in so soon after losing the manager I think gives us the best possible chance of changing our current set of results and hopefully climbing the league.
It also meant that he was able to take his position in the dugout for the Watford game on Boxing Day, and despite only having a short amount of time to work with his new squad, I felt you could see a difference in the approach to the game. It was a real shame we didn’t hold on for the first win in Sam’s reign after a dominant first half performance.
The next few months will be big for both us and Swansea but I truly believe that we have the quality on the pitch and on the sidelines to pull ourselves away from danger. With your backing from the stands united behind the players and the management, I feel that the new year will bring good things for Crystal Palace Football Club.