Well, it hasn’t exactly been a great year for Crystal Palace. The London club have amounted the lowest points in the Premier League in 2016 out of all the clubs that stayed up last season, and they look set to be in another relegation scrap at the end of the current campaign. But it hasn’t all been doom and gloom, with Palace going on to the FA Cup final last year, but with a man advantage in extra-time they couldn’t capitalise, and Jesse Lingard broke Palace hearts as he volleyed home the winner.
But it’s a new season, and Crystal Palace need to be looking up the table and not behind them. The squad seems to have stagnated, but with Andros Townsend and French goalkeeper Steve Mandanda arriving in the summer, there is enough there to stay well clear of relegation and possibly even finish in the top half. It may be too late for Alan Pardew to salvage the current campaign into a respectable finish, but it’s not for you. If you take over the Eagles on FIFA 17 Career Mode, you will inherit a ‘proper’ football club with die-hard fans who will rally behind the team through thick and thin. There is some quality on the pitch as well, with the likes of Yohan Cabaye, Wilfried Zaha and Christian Benteke, who combined, could fire any side into the top half of the table. So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to take Crystal Palace to the next level.
How you should line-up
With a lot of players in the mid-to-late 70s region, picking the Palace line-up isn’t easy. Formation wise, you should ditch Pardew’s preferred 4-2-3-1 formation for a good old fashioned 4-4-2, to make the most out of your strike power.
There’s no displacing the 84-rated Steve Mandanda in goal, and he has the sometimes shaky defence of Joel Ward, James Tomkins, Scott Dann and Pape Soure in front of him.
In midfield, you should go for new signing Andros Townsend, playmaker Yohan Cabaye, James McArthur and Wilfried Zaha. Things look strong up top with record signing Christian Benteke joining the on loan Loic Remy.
On the bench, you should have Wayne Hennessey, Damien Delaney, Martin Kelly, Mathieu Flamini, Bakary Sako and Connor Wickham.
The Transfer Market
Starting transfer budget: £32 million
Starting wage budget: £152,000
Who should go
With Palace stuttering this year, there are plenty of players who do not make the cut. Ezekiel Fryers has been on the books at Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and now Crystal Palace, and has barely got a look in anywhere. The left back can be sold for around £400,000.
Fraizer Campbell has always been an inconsistent performer in the Premier League, and a move to the Championship can’t be far away. The striker is behind Christian Benteke, Loic Remy and Connor Wickham in the pecking order, and you should perhaps look at buying or loaning in a replacement. The 28-year-old Campbell should go for around £800,000.
The rest of the players you need to sell are the absolute fringe players. Jonathan Benteke, Kwesi Appiah, Oliver O’Dwyer and Corie Andrews all have potentials of 69 or lower, and will never be of Premier League quality. You should be looking to collect around £800,000 for all of them.
What the team needs
After making those recommended sales, your transfer budget still won’t be very impressive at £34 million. It is therefore vital that you perform well in pre-season to take your budget beyond £40 million.
With that, you should be looking to bring in two first team players, with strengthening the defence your first order of business. Joel Ward is one of the most consistent performers at Selhurst Park, but he doesn’t have exceptional skills that make him stand out. Bringing in the experienced Stephan Lichtsteiner would be a massive signing for Palace, with the 83-rated right back offering 88 stamina, 84 sprint speed and 84 aggression. The Swiss international can be bought for just £17 million, with wages of £65,000.
– Pablo Zabaleta – Manchester City, Age 31, OVR 82, POT 82, Cost: £13 million, Wage: £65,000
– Bacary Sagna – Manchester City, Age 33, OVR 82, POT 82, Cost: £9 million, Wage: £43,000
– Antonio Valencia – Manchester United, Age 30, OVR 81, POT 81, Cost: £15 million, Wage: £43,000
– Branislav Ivanovic – Chelsea, Age 31, OVR 80, POT 80, Cost: £8 million, Wage: £43,000
– Dusan Basta – Lazio, Age 31, OVR 80, POT 80, Cost: £10 million, Wage: £43,000
Other than starters Andros Townsend and Wilfried Zaha, there is real lack of quality out wide for Palace, and if one of those two were to get injured you would be in real trouble. There are also very few players who you can bring in off of the bench to change a game, so bringing in another winger is surprisingly important. Stade Rennais left midfielder Paul-George Ntep is one of the coups of the game with 23-year-old available for just £18 million. The French international has a starting overall of 80, but with a potential of 85 and wages of just £11,000. Add to that 91 sprint speed, 91 acceleration and 84 ball control, and you have a player that can frighten and defence.
– Ricardo Quaresma – Besiktas, Age 32, OVR 83, POT 83, Cost: £18 million, Wage: £65,000
– Danny – Zenit St. Petersburg, Age 32, OVR 81, POT 81, Cost: £15 million, Wage: £50,000
– Salomon Kalou – Hertha Berlin, Age 30, OVR 81, POT 81, Cost: £18 million, Wage: £25,000
– Kevin Mirallas – Everton, Age 28, OVR 81, POT 81, Cost: £19 million, Wage: £58,000
– Jesus Navas – Manchester City, Age 30, OVR 80, POT 80, Cost: £13 million, Wage: £43,000
With a clear divide between the first team and the reserves, there are a few players who need to be sent out on loan to develop their game. Palace youngsters Luke Dreher, Aaron Bissaka, Andre Coker, Ben Wynter and Levi Lumeka all have potentials of 72 or above, with Dreher capable of reaching 78, so these lads need a season or two away from the club to get games under their belts.
A whole host of Crystal Palace players have contracts running out at the end of the season, but you should be renewing six of them.
Martin Kelly, Joe Ledley, Damien Delaney and Wayne Hennessey are great squad players to have, if injuries occur they are reliable men to step in. Luke Dreher is the most talented youngster at the club so it is important that you give him a fresh contract, with Ben Wynter another young talent worth giving a new contract to. Levi Lumeka is on the borderline, so if you do loan him out you should keep an eye on his development to see if he can go beyond his 72 potential.
Ezekiel Fryers, Frasier Campbell, Julian Speroni, Kwesi Appiah, Oliver O’Dwyer and Corie Andrews are all players you should be selling or releasing at the end of the season, but if you are unsure whether to let them go, there is no harm in giving them fresh contracts to raise their transfer price tag.
The managerial objectives at Crystal Palace are a tough ask. Domestic success is the most important, but still only has a medium priority, and you will be asked to finish in a Euro League spot (fifth) and reach the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.
Equally as important is the financial status of the club, and here you will need to increase the worth of the club by 20 percent within three seasons. This can be achieved by bringing in big name signings, as well as maintaining a profit. For brand exposure, you will need to sell out 85 percent of half of the home league games during the season. Here you will need to win regularly and score plenty of goals to keep them entertained.
Lastly, for youth development, all you need to do is bring a midfielder through the youth academy and into the first team squad.
What’s next? Silverware?
It may be hard to believe, but Crystal Palace have no major trophies to their name. They have come close, reaching the FA Cup final twice and finishing third in the league back in 1991, but they have lacked the consistency to threaten the big teams. After three seasons back in the top flight, they need to be getting away from the relegation zone, and that domestic success aim of finishing in the top five shows their ambition. However, I don’t think that any Palace fan would think that would be possible after the year they have had.
Even if you bring in some top players, there is still a long way to go for Palace to finish that high, but there may be a way around it. Last season, they showed that, on their day, they can be a match for anyone, going all the way to the FA Cup final. A cup victory brings about European football, and that seems to be a more realistic target than a top five finish. So how do you go about this? It would be foolish to put all of your eggs in one basket, so be sure to get off to a strong start in the Premier League. If you are still unbeaten by the time the League Cup comes around, you can then afford to throw a couple of regulars in there to see if you can lift that trophy. Remember that the FA Cup and league form is still your priority, so perhaps don’t target the trophy until you get to the semi-finals. Then once you get to January, the FA Cup has to be your sole focus, but make sure that you don’t wear your players out. European football is achievable at Crystal Palace, but you will have to give it everything you’ve got.
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