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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

After the Hurly - Burley

Nobes considers Crystal Palace's appointment of the experienced George Burley as their new manager.

New boss George Burley has an impressive track record at Championship level

It was a managerial appointment many Crystal Palace feared they'd never see. The London club so nearly went out of business, with only a last gasp takeover earlier this month from the CPFC 2010 Consortium saving the Eagles from extinction.

The buyout from the group, headed by fans Steven Parish and Martin Long, brought to a close a tumultuous few months for Palace. They entered administration in January - incurring a ten point penalty in the process.

That saw them drop from just outside the Championship play-off positions into a relegation fight. A few weeks later they lost the services of experienced manager Neil Warnock, who left the club to take over at QPR.

In the end, their relegation battle went to the final day where a dramatic 2-2 draw at Sheffield Wednesday ensured it was the Yorkshire team, and not them, who made the drop into League One.

Boss Paul Hart, who had managed to keep the club safe, immediately left after the game at Hillsborough. A further 29 other employees at the club followed him out of the door as costs were cut.

Now though, with their future secure, they can look forward to the future and a fight for promotion, not against extinction. These Eagles are daring to dream again.

The appointment of Burley is sure to encourage them even further - particularly with his appointment of club legend Dougie Freedman as his assistant.

Burley has been out of work since losing his position as manager of Scotland last year.

His failure to lead the Tartan Army even into the top two of their World Cup 2010 qualification group was deemed unsatisfactory by the Scottish Football Association.

Although things didn't work out for him at international level, his record in the Championship is the envy of most managers.

Hopes are high for better times ahead at Palace's Selhurst Park next term

He took Ipswich to four top six finishes - guiding them into the Premier League as play-off winners in 2000. There they finished 5th in their first season - qualifying for the UEFA Cup and earning Burley the Manager of the Season award.

He has also taken both of his other Championship teams into the play-offs. With Derby in 2005 he lost out in the semis to Preston and in 2007 his Southampton side were losers over two legs to, ironically, his former club Derby.

With a track record of getting his teams to compete at the right end, Palace fans will be optimistic that he can achieve the same kind of results at Selhurst Palace.

At both Pride Park and St Mary's he was used to working on a budget as former Premier League teams cut their cloth according to their new lower status in the football pyramid.

He will not be daunted, therefore, by the restrictions at a club determined to not get themselves in a similar financial mess as to the one they have just escaped from.

The 54-year-old is also an attractive choice because of his commitment to playing the game the right way. Burley has always got his teams playing attractive, attacking, passing football.

It is the kind of style which will encourage more supporters through the turnstiles - which can provide a financial boost to Palace.

It is also a style which, for all his cult hero status at the club, Warnock and his penchant for a more direct method of play, was never able to bring to South London.

The way he turned around a Derby side who had struggled towards the wrong end of the division before finishing 4th the next term will also encourage them that time need not be a barrier to success.

However, after the recent turmoil, achieving instant success will still be tough even for a man of Burley's experience and pedigree.

Successful or not, Palace fans will just be relieved they can focus on matters on the pitch once again.

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