Despite being in the job for fewer than 300 days, Crystal Palace boss Patrick Vieira has already written his name in a small part of Eagles history after taking the club to just their fifth-ever FA Cup semi-final.
The former French international and Arsenal player won many cups, trophies and titles on the field, including a World Cup, but despite a 2-0 loss to Chelsea on Sunday, he is well aware of the magnitude of leading the team to Wembley in 2022.
So much so, that he ensured the entire first-team squad – and a large number of academy players – were present at the national stadium to experience the event, whatever the result.
“It was an important day for the football club and this is why I wanted every player to be part of that experience,” said Vieira to the South London Press.
“I wanted them to feel how such a big day it was for the football club. The reception from the fans and the love the fans give us after the game – players coming out from that [experience] will really understand the history of this football club, [one] that I had to learn as well.
“I have really been blessed since I was here with the love and support of the people. It’s important for us to understand because this is the value of this football club. We want players to be on the field and to play with passion and this is what fans transmit from the stands. The players had a really good test and understanding about this football club.
“Yes, it was good to have this run in the FA Cup and to have this trip to Wembley, everybody at the football club really enjoyed and it was a very special moment, but players know that is the kind of moment they want so we have to build from that to try and get there as much as we can.”
Vieira was also pleased to hear from the South London Press about how fans of the SE25 club had expressed how proud they were of the club to reach the last four of the oldest football competition in England in amongst the billionaire and multiple-title and cup-winning clubs of Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool.
“It’s good for players to hear that because sometimes our emotions are based on winning or losing,” he responded. “When you make people proud it gives you that momentum that you need to go back again, so that’s why it’s important for us to bounce back and to keep fighting and to keep trying to win football matches.
“I want us to be like the boxer who stays proud – he gets a knock but he’s still working, going forward. Yes, we lost that game and we wanted to go to the final, but I want the players to go higher, to keep going, to keep wanting to defend well, to keep working together on this kind of team spirit that we managed to build.
“There is still a lot that we can do to be stronger as a team. I want us to build from what we have been doing in the last couple of months. For me, it’s about ‘okay we lost a game, but we stand up and we go again’.
“Let’s go again. Let’s go to Newcastle [on Wednesday] with our values, with what we want to achieve and try to win the game. Everything’s not going to be perfect, but let’s try to do it.”
INSET PICTURE: KEITH GILLARD
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