It’s all change at Selhurst Park this summer as Patrick Vieira embarks on a maiden managerial position in the Premier League after succeeding Roy Hodgson at Crystal Palace (2/5 To Stay Up).
The former Arsenal captain has already managed New York City and Nice in the MLS and Ligue 1 respectively, to varying degrees of success, having begun his coaching career with a youth development role at Manchester City.
After Palace failed to land Nuno Espirito Santo and Lucien Favre, chairman Steve Parish offered the job to the 45-year-old.
He certainly has his work cut out as Hodgson worked wonders with an ageing squad that had no great depth.
Vieira’s Eagles career begins with a hugely difficult trip to Chelsea on August 14 (Chelsea 1/4, draw 9/2, Palace 9/1 – Match Betting).
Hopes for the new season
Given Vieira’s limited experience at the highest level, he would probably snap your hand off if offered 17th.
It was destined to be a big job for any manager that came in, simply because of how many players were out of contract.
Ten senior players have exited the club as Vieira is tasked with building a younger side.
Any team in transition would accept consolidating their current status, so anything other than relegation for Palace (7/4 To Be Relegated) would probably represent a success.
Arrivals and Departures
Michael Olise – undisclosed from Reading
Remi Matthews – free from Sunderland
Marc Guehi – undisclosed from Chelsea
Gary Cahill – released
Nathaniel Clyne – released
Scott Dann – released
Stephen Henderson – released
Wayne Hennessey – released (later joined Burnley)
James McCarthy – released
Mamadou Sakho – released
Andros Townsend – released (later joined Everton)
Patrick van Aanholt – released
Connor Wickham – released
Who else but Wilfried Zaha? The academy winger has been Palace’s talisman for a number of years and even though he has made no secret of his desire to join a club higher up the ladder, he still continues to perform.
Last season, he enjoyed his most productive goalscoring season, netting 11 goals in 30 top-flight appearances.
The onus on him to perform this season has been heightened by the fact Ebere Eze – an impressive creative performer last season – will miss a large chunk of the upcoming campaign due to an Achilles injury he sustained in a training session in May.
Zaha’s improved final delivery has also benefitted striker Christian Benteke – one of the few out-of-contract players who committed to a new deal.
Put simply, if opposing teams keep Zaha quiet, then Palace don’t have much creativity in reserve.
Vieira is expected to implement a more expansive, possession-based style of play compared with the more physical and defence-orientated system favoured by Hodgson.
With Nice, his teams averaged 54% possession across his two seasons in charge, bettered only by PSG and Lyon.
He favours the use of a 4-3-3 formation which should suit Zaha, Benteke, and new arrival Michael Olise from Reading.
However, he is also not afraid to switch to a back-three and the arrival of the cultured Marc Guehi from Chelsea – who showed so much promise in the Championship with Swansea – will help him in that regard.
Palace tried and failed with the expansive play route with Frank de Boer’s dire four-game stint in charge in 2016 – they will be desperate for history not to repeat itself.
Last season – 14th.