The superb victory against Brighton to secure a play-off final place showed just how far Ian Holloway has come as a manager since his last stint in the top flight with Blackpool.
Holloway takes his Crystal Palace side into the final against Watford, probably as the slight underdogs but that’s not something that will bother their boss as the season comes down to just one match at Wembley.
The performance at Brighton gave us all a little insight as to why Holloway needs to be back managing in the Premier League and why he can get any team he’s in charge of to stay there.
Tactically he seems to be getting his teams to play football in a far shrewder manner than before.
That could be to do with the relegation heartbreak he suffered with Blackpool, which could have had the ability of making him tense up to eradicate the chance of errors from his team.
It’s not a negative thing at all because that 2-0 win at Brighton showed just how effective those tactics can be, especially going into a game where your support has been so clearly restricted by the opposition.
Brighton probably expected Palace to roll over under the pressure but that is not something Holloway allows from his teams.
He also seems to have enhanced the way he develops his players and demands complete respect from them.
The best example of that is Wilfried Zaha, on loan from Manchester United having secured a big money move to Old Trafford last January.
Several Palace fans, and Holloway too, may have been a little worried that would go to his head because Zaha is a big character despite his age and someone who seems to know just how talented he is.
He’s played his heart out for Holloway and regardless of that move, he’s carried himself admirably, other than that incident at Leeds, and as though he is committed to Palace for a very long time.
That respect is important heading into the final because Holloway needs every single player to go into that game looking to sweat blood for him.
It’s not coincidence that he could take Palace up the same way he took Blackpool into the Premier League and it’s all resonated from his last spell in the top division.
He’s now a lot wiser to some of the tricks and tactics which are used by Premier League sides, which gives Palace a better chance of withstanding those tactics and they can be very confident he will develop and enhance the side a lot more effectively than Blackpool’s single season in the division.
Can Palace pull it off? Does the Premier League need Holloway back?
image: © OliverN5