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      Mitchell on changing the season, building his game & setting club records


      Despite having become Crystal Palace’s youngest-ever player to play 100 Premier League games for the club earlier this season, Tyrick Mitchell remains determined to continually elevate his game.

      This interview originally appeared in the Crystal Palace v Brentford matchday programme. You can shop for programmes by clicking HERE.

      It may well have been the festive season when this interview was conducted, but spirits are seemingly always high around the Crystal Palace training ground – which made Tyrick Mitchell’s choice at the time all the more courageous.

      In the build-up to Christmas and New Year, players’ off-the-field commitments can be at their most frequent. The combination of a busy calendar of player appearances, broadcaster requirements, interviews and pre-match meetings, on this particular occasion, leaves us temporarily short of a room in which to conduct this interview.

      We put the choice to Mitchell as he trails off the training pitch: do we try for one of the smaller offices, or brave the player and staff canteen? He boldly opts for the latter; we brace ourselves.

      The signs are already there that hijinks are on the horizon from the moment a number of Mitchell’s teammates – including an experienced, tough-tackling midfielder, who shall otherwise remain nameless – take a seat at the table directly adjacent to ours.

      To warm things up, our chat opens with an innocuous – somewhat cliché, even, we’ll admit – question about putting points on the board over the festive period. The riposte from next door – before Mitchell can even begin his answer – is swift.

      “Well, yeah! That’s the whole point of football, isn’t it? I don’t remember the last time I tried to get fewer points on the board…”

      Lesson learned, it’s safe to say – spirits remain as high as ever in Copers Cope.

      In many ways, it’s a microcosm of this Palace squad. It would be easy, amidst a dense period of challenging fixtures, for the jokes to dry up and heads to go down.

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      The main thing that can change any season is getting as many points as possible by sticking together

      Tyrick Mitchell

      But this is a close-knit, grounded and spirited team – and one in which Mitchell’s popularity is reflected in the number of visitors, both those with mischievous and well-meaning intent, to our table.

      “I feel like the main aim for us, as a team, is not just to get as many points as possible, but to know that we put everything into getting those points,” arrives Mitchell’s thoughtful reply, post-interruptions.

      “Sometimes you win games, sometimes you lose them, but the main aim is to stick together when it’s difficult.

      “When results are good, that’s easy – but the main thing that can change any season is getting as many points as possible by sticking together.”

      It’s a better reply than perhaps the initial question warranted – but that will come as no surprise to those who know the 24-year-old; a studious, hardworking character in all aspects.

      When we spoke to Mitchell in one of the first matchday programmes of 2023, the full-back targeted a calendar year of further improvement.

      At the turn of the year, we asked him: did he achieve that goal? “Yeah, I think so. Every season you always try to see something that you’ve improved upon.

      “Sometimes in moments you can lose a little bit of confidence, or match fitness, but you also always try to see something that you know you’ve improved upon or got more comfortable with. I definitely feel like, every year that’s gone by, there’s been a part of my game I can look at and say: ‘yeah, even if it’s 1% or 50%, that’s been a building block.’

      “For me, this season’s been up and down so far. I’ve had some good games, and some games where I could have done better, but it hasn’t been too negative or too positive overall. That’s something that I can build on between now and the rest of the season; staying level is the main thing.

      “I think my decision-making’s improved. I’m keeping the ball a lot better, and I’m making more progressive passes. When I pass it forward, I do it thinking of a lot more detail than I have in the past. I’ve played with that detail in my game, and it’s allowed me to get forwards a little bit quicker and start attacks.

      "That’s been big for me.”

      That bigger picture has yielded not only Mitchell’s first assist of the season, for Odsonne Edouard’s opening goal in the 3-2 win over Wolves in September, but also the cinch Player of the Month award – voted for by supporters – for the month of November.

      And then, of course, there was his first professional goal in some two-and-a-half years, when he raced forward in injury-time to clinch victory at Burnley last month. “A lot of football is about confidence. Believing you can do it is just the first block to get over.

      “Then, after that, I like to watch other players in my position who might be considered more attacking. I like to see what positions they put themselves in when the ball’s on their side, and when it’s not. How do these guys get in enough positions to be considered ‘attacking’ – those positions to get assists, goals or crosses into the box?

      “I feel like that’s the main part: understanding where you might need to be when the ball’s in every part of the pitch.”

      For Mitchell during November’s win at Turf Moor, that apparently meant the opposition penalty area. As the left-back’s own goalkeeper that day, Sam Johnstone, joked: “I don’t know what he was doing on the edge of that box!”

      Mitchell smiles – he knew. “We were playing with five at the back at that point, so part of me was thinking that we had a lot more security than we did with four. I could see it was a break and I just thought… well, I don’t really know what I thought – it was just instinct!

      “As soon as I got up there and Ebs passed it to me, I just hoped Ama [Naouirou Ahamada] would leave it. He understands football, we all understand football, so he allowed me to take it – and then, I knew I was going to score.”

      The opportunity to espy such a chance perhaps best encapsulates the detail which Mitchell is working hard to fold into his game this season.

      “You can look at how past players have done it, but the game’s changed a lot,” he explains. “Every team is different and every player is different. You just have to adjust to whatever system your gaffer wants to play.

      “A lot of players in the Prem have a good enough football understanding to be able to perform certain roles. In the beginning, that might take a bit of adjusting, but everyone in this team is good enough to do it.

      “For me, I try to look at players that are playing right now in the Premier League and the other top leagues. Andy Robertson at Liverpool, for example, is one of the most elite ones in my position, but there are a few others as well.

      “I wouldn’t say I try to copy them, but I try to understand their game, and my role as a full-back, a bit more. I want to become as close to elite as I can be.”

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      It’s something you only dream of achieving when you make your first appearance

      Tyrick Mitchell

      It is a timely reminder, given Mitchell’s consistent presence in Palace’s back line for five seasons now, that he remains a young player striving to develop all areas of his game.

      Earlier this season, such continuity led to him becoming Palace’s youngest-ever player to make 100 Premier League appearances for the club, a feat achieved when he lined up against Aston Villa in September.

      At just 24 years and 17 days-old at the time, Mitchell surpassed the record of Wilfried Zaha, who was 24 years and six months-old when he reached a century of Premier League appearances for Palace in 2017.

      “I didn’t know I was going to be the youngest,” Mitchell admits.

      “I knew that I was on course to make 100 Premier League appearances this season, because 100 Premier League games is a milestone I’ve always looked at.

      "It’s something you only dream of achieving when you make your first appearance.”

      Yet where most Academy graduates drift in and out of firstteam involvement following their debut, Mitchell would feature in 81 of Palace’s subsequent 87 Premier League games after his bow against Leicester City in July 2020.

      “I feel like I came in the team with my defending being at a good enough level that I could keep that trust.

      “It’s obviously sometimes been better than others, but I felt like that was the main part of me staying in the team: being someone the gaffer and my teammates could trust, especially as a young player coming in. I enjoy working for my team and helping my teammates.

      “Now, for me, it’s about playing 200 games in the Premier League, then playing 300 games, then 400 games, playing as many games as I can and progressing in each of them.

      “I want each hundred to be a different story.”

      At the time of interview, conversation moved to Mitchell's links to Brentford and his origins in north-west London.

      “At the time Brentford was everything I knew, so I couldn’t really match it to anything. I can see how, as a child, it had a positive effect on me. Being from that area, playing for them was a prideful thing.

      "But now they’re in the Premier League at a new stadium, with a completely new first-team, so it’s different for me – it’s not really emotional.

      “Now, though, I match that energy to being at Palace. I feel like I understand ‘South London and Proud.’”

      A spirit well embodied by both the player, and his teammates on the tables around him. Mitchell is south London’s.

      His journey? The type of which we can, truly, be proud.