Crystal Palace have been performing above expectations this season and a lot of the credit has to go to their young manager Dougie Freedman.
The former striker was given the job after George Burley was sacked initially as caretaker but then was given the job permanently in January and brought in his former teammate Tony Popovic and Lennie Lawrence to assist him. He had a pretty successful season last year keeping the team up with a game to spare which seemed unlikely at certain points in the season. Crystal Palace have been dogged with financial problems in the last few years and he has to deal with very little money and also being unable to offer players a good enough contract to keep them at the club.
This season, he has guided the club to a respectable position in the league and are an outside bet to finish in the playoff places and the manager is quietly confident they could just spring a surprise and finish above teams with larger wage bills. This is a remarkable achievement as they were one of the favourites to get relegated and in fairness to the bookies, looking at the squad, they probably should have been down the bottom of the league. One of his greatest qualities is that he gives his players confidence and trusts them to do their jobs and this is why some of the younger players in the squad have performed exceptionally well, Wilfred Zaha in particular. Zaha was linked with a move away from the club but I believe that Freedman convinced him to stay and convinced him that if he plays first team football instead of the odd game in the Premier League he will become a better player. A lot of players allow their heads to be turned but obviously the boss has kept him focused and he is looking better and better every game.
Some of the results this season have been impressive, beating Manchester United 2-1 at Old Trafford in the Carling Cup and drawing 0-0 with league leaders West Ham at Upton Park. These are big results for the team but more importantly for the fans as they can see that this team under Freedman are going places and if they keep the squad together they could be genuine promotion contenders in the next few years.
The board will also be happy with their choice and the run to the Carling Cup semi final, which they were unlucky to lose on penalties, will have helped the club financially and the extra income will have pleased the board as they would not have expected the team to get so far.
Freedman deserves a lot of recognition as he has arguably done more for the team than anyone else has for their club. Yes the teams at the top get all the praise but sometimes you have to look down the table and see that some managers are performing above expectations and these deserve more credit than they get from the media in particular. A 37% win record is good for a manger that is at a team that aren’t expected to perform well and has limited experience.