Burley surely the right man for Palace
This summer has already seen some surprisingly sensible managerial appointments in the Championship. Aidy Boothroyd’s record at Colchester United, following a downturn in his initially prosperous fortunes at Watford, made him an obvious choice to replace Chris Coleman at Coventry City.
Likewise, Hull City will be hoping Nigel Pearson can instil the same winning habit that he created upon his appointment at Leicester City following relegation. With regard to Pearson’s replacement at the Walkers Stadium, the money appears to be on Swansea City boss Paulo Sousa, whose passing football impressed many Leicester fans, as well as chairman Milan Mandaric, last season.
But perhaps the most inspired off-field signing of all so far this summer is the new man at the helm of Crystal Palace. There are, in fact, a few new faces in situ at Selhurst Park after the CPFC2010 consortium succeeded in assuming control of the club.
Their choice as new manager was George Burley and the Scot’s credentials could barely be more well-suited to the Eagles. Burley, like Neil Warnock and Paul Hart before him, knows the division inside-out but not in a bad way. Some managers do the rounds at a certain level without ever impressing but Burley has consistently put together decent Championship teams and can expect to achieve the same feat at Palace.
It is Burley’s past with Championship clubs that made him such a perfect fit for the club’s new owners. Not just his creditable overall record, but specifically two long-standing factors.
In his previous positions, Burley has been partially responsible for bringing through a wealth of young talent. These days, you would see Tom Huddlestone, Gareth Bale and Theo Walcott contesting a North London derby but they were also all nurtured by Burley during his spells at Derby County and Southampton in the Championship.
Palace’s youth academy is flourishing with plenty of talent recruited from the streets of South London and beyond. Victor Moses is the most high-profile recent graduate, having left last season for Wigan Athletic, but they have also blooded the likes of Nathaniel Clyne, Sean Scannell and Lee Hills.
Clyne is one of two key players Burley is currently attempting to convince that their futures lie at Selhurst Park. The promising young right-back has been linked with the likes of Aston Villa this summer but he may be tempted to stay with Palace given Burley’s track record for making the most of potential.
The other player Burley is desperately clinging onto, for now, is Darren Ambrose. In the days before he oversaw the development of Huddlestone, Bale and Walcott, Burley’s time at Ipswich coincided with the introduction of several excellent youngsters, one of whom was Ambrose.
This historic connection may be enough to convince Palace’s star man to reject the advances of other Championship clubs and attempt to replicate his excellent form of last season. Ambrose is Palace’s answer to similarly talismanic midfielders who hauled their teams to promotion through their goalscoring achievements, specifically Newcastle’s Kevin Nolan, West Bromwich Albion’s Graham Dorrans and Blackpool’s Charlie Adam.
Happily now able to disregard the ten-point penalty that almost relegated them, Palace were a play-off chasing team and can do the same again this term despite the loss of Shaun Derry to Warnock’s Queen’s Park Rangers and Johnny Ertl to Sheffield United.
If Burley can keep Ambrose and re-fit the midfield behind him, as well as continuing his tradition of developing young talent, Palace could go into the last day of the forthcoming season with a far more positive aim than mere survival.