Palace window a smashing success

Posted by Jim Daly

Ian Walton/Getty ImagesTony Pulis' Crystal Palace addressed the bulk of their needs during the January window.

The thing about supporting a team like Crystal Palace is that you are so used to things going wrong that when they go right, you are both surprised and then overcome with anxiousness for immediate impending doom.

I now feel like that after a Deadline Day that can only be described as an overwhelming success for the Eagles, as they brought in five players of undoubted quality, including one of England's most sought after young talents. I'm just waiting for it all to backfire and it turn out that Palace didn't in fact sign Tom Ince from Blackpool, but instead a robot made out of cardboard and sticky tape by Paul Ince, who has actually sold his son to Monaco for 20 million pounds and run away to the Riviera.

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But as it stands, Ince joins Celtic midfielder Joe Ledley, Blackburn defender Scott Dann and Wolves keeper Wayne Hennessey in joining the club, as well as winger Jason Punchon who made his loan deal from Southampton permanent. All experienced, quality players who will make the Eagles a stronger outfit as they head into an important few months in the battle against the drop. It was a day of deals that led Palace fans to dub February 1st: "Ince, Punch, First of the month".

It brings an end to a frustrating 31 days for Palace fans when it looked like nothing was happening while relegation rivals like Hull were splashing the cash big time to bring in proven quality. While most Eagles supporters agreed they didn't want to gamble the financial status of the club by doing similar, it was widely acknowledged that SOME players were needed. This last day bounty is more than was expected though.

Steve Parish, head of transfers Iain Moody and Tony Pulis deserve multiple high fives. But where will the new faces fit in?

Hennessey, despite being the most expensive of the signings at three million pounds, is clearly a backup to Julian Speroni. Speroni has been the Palace No.1 for seven years and although he does have his faults, has been in brilliant form this season and would take a thousand men with pickaxes to pry him out of his starting spot on goal. Hennessey is a talented young(ish) keeper and will be a fantastic cover for Speroni if he does get injured. And at 34, Speroni doesn't have long left so "Henners" could be the perfect replacement if and when Speroni hangs up his gloves.

Scott Dann fills that one spot that all Palace fans agreed was a priority, although not quite as much of a priority as was thought a few months ago. When Holloway departed from Selhurst in October, the defence was a mess and first choice centre-backs Danny Gabbidon and Damien Delaney were struggling, but since then they have formed a decent little partnership. However, with Dann nipping at their toes they will have to be even better, which is perfect for Palace.

I'd expect Ledley to go straight into the centre of midfield, especially with Kagisho Dikgacoi struggling with injury, which would push the brilliantly versatile Joel Ward back into defence, probably at left-back. Ledley could be a really important signing for Palace, and of course already has Champions League experience for when the Eagles inevitably climb up the table into the Top 4.

Dikgacoi does of course have top flight experience and I've written in this column before about how much the team miss him when he is absent, but Ledley I feel just has more about him. He's certainly more mobile and is better with the ball at his feet. Will he get as stuck in as Dikgacoi does and cover as much ground? I'm not sure, but having Mile Jedinak in his ear all game next to him I suspect he will do!

Ince, though, is the real jewel in the crown and his signing alone will no doubt make most of the remaining home games this season sell-outs. A lot of goals in recent weeks have come from the flanks and Palace's strength really does come from quick breaks out wide, and Ince is perfect for that. I imagine he will take Yannick Bolasie's place on the right flank, with Puncheon continuing on the left, but Yala has been playing well and will be pushing them both for a spot, which will keep them on their toes.

What these new signings give Palace is greater options and a bit of squad depth, which will be crucial in the final few weeks. It feels like the Eagles have given themselves a brilliant chance now of avoiding the drop, ending the window with five great new signings and sitting in 14th place in the table.

The area a lot of fans were hoping there would also be a new face was up front, but reportedly the club weren't too bothered about that given Glenn Murray's rapid recovery from injury. Last season's top scorer ruptured his knee during the playoffs, but if he is indeed closer to a return than we think, that in itself would be like a new signing.

Unfortunately, Palace fans won't get to see any of the new outfit faces against Arsenal on Sunday as they weren't registered in time, but not many would be expecting anything from that game anyway. A home clash with West Brom the following weekend is really where the season starts and with Ince, Ledley & Co. on the pitch, suddenly things are looking very good indeed for everyone in SE25.


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