Ian Holloway knows he must improve his Crystal Palace squad for the Premier League.
Despite just one win in the last 10 matches of their regular fixture programme, the Eagles did enough to finish in fifth position at the end of the Championship season. This earned them a playoff semi-final clash with Brighton & Hove Albion, which they won over two legs to set up a Wembley date with Gianfranco Zola’s Watford, who ended the campaign in third spot.
The Hornets were slight favourites to clinch promotion to the top-flight on Sunday afternoon, but after a goalless 90 minutes, a penalty from veteran striker Kevin Phillips saw Palace record a memorable 1-0 win. Looking ahead to the challenge which will be presented to the Londoners next term, Holloway accepts he has to improve his squad if they are to avoid a struggle.
“It all starts now for me because the minute we kick off next season we’re on a hiding to nothing,” he said on the BBC website. “We’ve got to make sure we can compete and I want to stay there. How much you spend on your group isn’t always what gives you [success]. It’s what’s inside their hearts and how much they work for you. To me they’re Palace heroes.”
One immediate problem for Holloway will be trying to keep hold of Wilfried Zaha. The 20-year-old was sold to Manchester United during the January transfer window, but Sir Alex Ferguson allowed the youngster to remain at Selhurst Park for the remainder of the season. David Moyes is expected to call upon the forward next term, but the Eagles may ask for another loan.
“I think he [Moyes] would be silly to give me him back. Now we’re up it might be realistic but who knows?” added Holloway. “He (Moyes) will know the task he’s got. Mine will be staying up, his will be winning every week. Good luck to him and good luck to us.”