Palace legend Dougie Freedman has guided the Eagles to safety
By Laurie Fitzgerald
The issue of relegation was decided in the Championship this weekend, as Sheffield United and Scunthorpe succumbed to the drop.
They will join Preston North End in League One next season after Phil Brown’s side were relegated the weekend before.
While there is some surprise at those unable to beat the drop, there should be some praise for one of the teams that avoided it.
Less than 12 months ago, there was a real possibility that Crystal Palace would cease to exist.
The 1st June 2010 was to prove a crucial day in the history of the club; a takeover had to be completed, otherwise the South London side would fold.
Thankfully, a fans consortium in the name of CPFC 2010 came to the rescue, and the club was purchased in the nick of time.
During this period, the last thing that was on the mind of the fans was whether they could survive in the Championship; they just wanted to survive.
But the takeover allowed the supporters to focus on the future and looking forward to football again at Selhurst Park.
Former Scotland manager George Burley was brought in to try and shape a young squad that had seen some of its best players leave.
The likes of Danny Butterfield, Shaun Derry, Clint Hill and Johannes Ertl departed, taking a lot of experience with it.
Fortunately, Palace were able to retain star player Darren Ambrose, as well as key attacking talents such as James Vaughan coming in on loan from Everton.
However, Burley found the going tough, and by the turn of the year the former Ipswich manager was hoping to get the time to turn things round.
That time wasn’t afforded to him, and Burley was sacked on New Year’s Day, with the Eagles second from bottom and in possession of the worst goal difference in the division.
Co-Chairmen Steve Parish and Martin Long decided to turn to a man that has Crystal Palace firmly in his heart.
Dougie Freedman spent a combined total of ten years at the club in two spells at Selhurst Park during his playing days.
Having been assistant manager to Burley, his fellow Scot was given the responsibility to try and keep Palace in the Championship.
The 36 year-old has responded, with six wins and eight draws from his 21 league games in charge.
What was impressive was not just the character shown from the turbulence of the summer to maintaining their Championship status.
It was also the way that the Eagles managed to maintain the breathing space that they had between them and the bottom three.
Recent weeks saw Sheffield United, Preston and Scunthorpe have mini-revivals, including the Irons winning at Selhurst Park.
But this young side has matured quickly, and Freedman seems to have been able to implement the sort of passion that he has for the club into this current crop of players.
Now with safety secured, the club can continue their progression both on and off the pitch.
While it remains to be seen how much progress will be made, one thing is for sure; if the past 12 months are anything to go by, Crystal Palace certainly know how to defy the odds.
So what do you think? Just how well have Crystal Palace done to stay in the Championship this season? Will the Eagles move forward next campaign? Let us know your thoughts.