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Can Crystal Palace Make it to the Promised Land?
Charlton, Sheffield Utd, Watford were among the favourites to be promoted at the start of the season (not surprisingly considering their financial advantage of being in the Premier league the season before.
)Surprise packages come in the form of Bristol City, Plymouth and Ipswich (mighty at home, yet to win away.
) Teams who have built over the last few seasons like Burnley, Stoke and Cardiff are progressing nicely.
Last but not least the sides that appear to have stagnated in the Championship and have failed to bounce back are starting to show signs of doing just that.
Wolves led by promotion expert Mick McCarthy.
An Ecclestone backed QPR and a brilliantly fluid West Brom side who are the Arsenal of the Championship.
All of these teams are in the mix for promotion which is what makes this league so intriguing to watch and difficult to predict.
Proof perhaps that money shared more equally makes for a more unpredictable league where relegation strugglers can go away to promotion hopefuls and win.
For obvious reasons this idea wouldn't go down to well in the best league in the world.
One of the teams not mentioned above and in a group of their own is Crystal Palace.
Seemingly cursed to be a Yo-Yo club until the end of time the Eagles have struggled to keep up with the promoted end of the bargain in recent years which eventually resulted in losing Andy Johnson to Everton and Iain Dowie to Charlton.
June 2006 saw Peter Taylor Ex England & England U21s manager given the responsibility to get Palace back up to the Premiership.
His first season was pretty unspectacular leading them to a 12th place finish 10 points off of the promotion places.
Chairman Simon Jordan resisted the temptation to sack Taylor and gave him more time to get things right and push on to at least get a play off position.
This season started off in superb fashion for Taylors side with a 4-1 away win at a Jekyll & Hyde Southampton.
This result however proved to be a rarity and was their only victory in their first 6 league games.
(plus a confidence denting cup defeat to Bristol Rovers.
) They didn't win again until Sheffield Utd visited Selhurst park.
After the 3-2 victory Taylor was asked what would make his job safe.
About 15 wins on the spin! Unsurprisingly this didn't happen, they lost 1 and drew 2 of their next 3 games and after a 1-1 draw against former club Hull the team were booed off and Taylors contract was soon terminated.
The club were hovering precariously over the relegation places and changes were needed.
Much is made of Simon Jordan, he is deemed as arrogant by fans and media alike although hardly one of footballs nice guys (like Taylor which could of eventually been his downfall) he comes across as articulate, hardworking and someone who doesn't stand for any shit.
I mean what over chairman would tell his clubs fans that their next manager would be Neil Warnock? The pair have been friends for many years and on the 11th of October, Warnock (affectionately known as Colin)was appointed as Crystal Palace manager.
The news wasn't popular amongst Palace supporters but his lower league qualities are beyond disrepute leading his previous teams to 6 promotions in a 20 year career.
Warnock stated that "This will be my last job and I can offer a lot.
The chairman Simon Jordan and I are ambitious people who want to achieve.
The players have to want to give everything otherwise you will just get steamrollered.
We have got to have desire, first and foremost, to be able to win anything.
That is what I will be looking for".
Jordan described Warnock's appointment saying "I know I have the right man.
It is the dream ticket.
We both say what we mean and we mean what we say.
" The dream ticket had a nightmarish start 4 draws and 2 defeats in his opening 6 games not exactly what Jordan had in mind.
Warnocks seventh game in charge a 2-1 victory away at relegation favourites Colchester Utd eased the situation and gave the players a much needed boost.
This victory part of 15 league game unbeaten run including a 3-0 win away at Wolves and last weekends 2-0 win at surprise promotion contenders Bristol City.
Rising from 19th to 5th in the table, positivity is once again running through the club.
There have been rumours that the team can emulate Ian Dowies side in 2004 and come from nowhere to gain promotion but it appears that the P word is yet to be uttered at Palaces training ground.
Nobody talks of promotion or the play offs.
We just talk about getting more points on the board and hopefully we can keep the run going.
Warnock has obviously got them working hard and as a team again with Mark Hudson, Ben Watson and Clinton Morrison (joint 2nd league top scorer) the spine of the team being particularly instrumental.
Shaun Derry & Neil Danns have been brought in from Leeds and Birmingham in the January transfer window to add some steel and goal scoring ability (to play alongside ex England U21 and widely admired Watson) The academy are also bearing fruit, players like John Bostock and Victor Moses are names that have been linked to Chelsea and ones that you will likely hear more about in the not to distant future.
Palace still have to face each of the top ten again this season and only at the end of May will we know if this has been a bit of lucky form or the kick start they needed.
Either way the club and the league will be one to watch out for this season and for years to come.