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How triple Premier League winner Vieira is shaping his attacking revolution


Excitement is mounting ahead of Patrick Vieira’s Crystal Palace debut in the dugout.

In just over a week, Patrick Vieira will lead as the Eagles’ head coach for the first time, taking on European Champions Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

The club overhaul has been the South Londoners’ largest since they were promoted in 2013. Fortune favours the bold, and Palace’s recruitment plans this summer have been courageous.

Palace have allowed several stalwarts of the club’s most successful period in Premier League history to run down their contracts and depart on free transfers – Mamadou Sakho, Andros Townsend, Patrick van Aanholt and Scott Dann, to name a handful of the 10 senior players who have left.

Losing Gary Cahill, who Palace attempted to keep but couldn’t find common ground with the ex-England international on new terms, will be a blow to the club.

The experienced 35-year-old showed that he could still operate in the Premier League last season, bringing leadership and expertise to the side. Cahill has won it all in his illustrious career and added a wealth of experience that cannot be easily replaced.

Patrick Vieira’s refurbished side still has a vast depth of Premier League knowledge to call upon during his first management stint in the English top-flight.

James McArthur, Joel Ward, Wilfried Zaha, Cheikhou Kouyate, James Tomkins and Christian Benteke have all played over 100 games for the club and understand the importance of reaching the desirable 40-point mark before daring to dream of greater ambitions. And with the sheer number of bodies out of the door, this summer presented the perfect opportunity for the hierarchy to revamp the squad, playing style and ethos of Crystal Palace.

One fatal flaw that led to Frank de Boer’s quick demise came from the lack of investment when trying to change the style of play.

After the winter window in 2017, which saw Palace invest heavily in Luka Milivojevic, Patrick van Aanholt, Jeffrey Schlupp and Mamadou Sakho on loan to secure survival under Sam Allardyce, there was little cash to spend for the Dutch manager in the window.

De Boer made one permanent signing, Jairo Riedewald, and loaned in the duo of Timothy Fosu-Mensah and midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek. There was little time for the player to switch to a swashbuckling side that could play a three at the back formation with ease – it’s different this time around.

The Eagles have now switched to a more sustainable approach.

The arrival last year of Eberechi Eze, who thrived under Roy Hodgson, was crucial in the Eagles securing their ninth consecutive season in the top-flight. It proved to Palace’s hierarchy this method could be the crux of their rebuild – buying players with huge potential, developing them and then selling them for a profit.

The summer rejuvenation has allowed sporting director Dougie Freedman to build a team well-equipped for Vieira’s ideology.

The Eagles swooped for Michael Olise, 19, who won last season’s Championship Young Player of the Year with Reading.

Adding two centre-backs – Joachim Andersen and Marc Guehi – who are both accomplished and skilled in the style of play Vieira would like to deploy at Palace, gives the French coach a solid foundation ahead of his inaugural campaign.

And Palace finally ended their 16-month long pursuit of Conor Gallagher by bringing the combative Chelsea midfielder in on a season-long loan.

Vieira’s powers of persuasion have been crucial this summer. Every new arrival has acknowledged the influence the three-time Premier League winner has had in their decision to join his revolution at Selhurst Park.

Albeit it’s pre-season, the opening games have been an alluring snapshot of life under the French World Cup winner.

The players have had freedom to express themselves, and the injection of academy products, who have taken their opportunities, is an inspiring sight.

At times under Hodgson, who was criticised during the latter stages of his time at Palace for being overly cautious, the side’s attacking prowess was suffocated in return for a rigid defensive shape that would settle for a point rather than three.

It looks like Vieira’s Palace will play on the front foot, look to keep the ball and attack with an emphasis on relentlessly closing down the opposition at any opportunity.

The future is bright, but it’s important to remember that the players will make mistakes while adapting to their new surroundings. Whatever happens this season at Crystal Palace, though, it certainly won’t be dull.

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