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05/06: Preview: Crystal Palace
Opposition opinion
by Mike Angell of The Holmesdale Online

What happened last season?
Having finished 1 point away from safety I can't help thinking we threw away our best chance of staying in the Premier League since we first got there.

Initially, having sneaked our way into the Play-Offs after being 4th from bottom we were just glad to be there and expected a few thrashings and the odd good day out. We hoped we'd stay up but suddenly waking up to the fact that Thierry Henry would be gracing Selhurst Park with his International team mates and the prospects didn't look too good.

Our biggest disappointment was not signing a real class player. We missed a creative midfielder and a partner for AJ. Rumours abounded all summer about players being 'nearly over the line' and despite bringing in an array of foreign talent none proved to be the big star we desperately hoped for.

Once the league table took shape we started to think we had a good chance - the bottom six all looked of a similar strength and with AJ being bustled over for a (deserved) penalty week after week we saw ourselves sitting proudly in 4th from bottom - our dream position ("A man has to know his limitations" as Clint Eastwood used to say).

Heroic draws against Arsenal and Moan U and a particularly satisfying 3-0 tonking of Spurs were among the highlights of what was proving to be a better season than any of us dared hope for.

As the season drew to a close the teams we thought might get dragged down (Fulham, Blackburn and Birmingham) all pulled clear and it was going to be one out of four who survived. We blew our chance to cement that spot with our consecutive home draws against relegation rivals Norwich and Southampton. The Southampton game was a particularly bitter pill, having stolen a fairytale 'winner' the whole team went into a daze and the Saints netted a last-minute equaliser.

The final day was the stuff of dreams for the neutral - the 4th from bottom spot changing hands so that at one stage or another each of the teams were safe. Unfortunately our wannabee rivals Charlton managed an equaliser with eight minutes to spare as we drew 2-2 to send West Brom to the safety spot and our dream was over.

What's going to happen next season?
So far we've lost a few of the foreign signings and Wayne Routledge but the nucleus of last season's squad is there. The youngsters should have gained a lot of confidence from their time in the Premiership and if AJ stays the goals will flow.

As always with Palace you expect the worst and hope for the best - this season most fans are as optimistic as they have been for a fair few seasons. We have a good squad and a good manager. Season ticket sales are not bad and there will be an expectant buzz in the air come August.

Automatic promotion has to be our goal and looking at the other squads there is no one to be scared of. Anything outside of the playoffs will be a disappointment but the top two is a very realistic goal.

Soundbites(from assorted census correspondents)

"I love brie and grapes."

"think we covered everything I want to say in the gravy question"

"Chorleton and the wheelies was the best bar none!"

"Andy johnson isn't going anywhere but if he does, I never liked him anyway"

"Whales are not mammals, they are fat f**kers!"