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'Glorious bewilderment'

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IF there is a word to emphasise the overriding emotion of Monday's play-off final, it would be bewilderment. How could a team that was on the verge of relegation and oblivion three years ago suddenly find itself catapulted to one of world football's most prominent competitions? How could a club that only last season finished 17th change so much to become a play-off winning side?

There isn't a single factor that made it happen. The outcome came from hard work and plucky decision-making.

The club's success can, in part, be traced back to the draw at Sheffield Wednesday to secure Championship safety. With that result, CPFC2010 opted to buy the club. With their decision to buy the club came the fans' involvement to help secure the stadium. With that decision to purchase the stadium came security. With security came positivity. And with positivity came a squad capable of winning promotion.

And what a squad it is. Rightly, the headlines will focus on the role that Wilfried Zaha played – but there are players throughout the team that have played their part in securing the incredible feat of winning promotion.

Kevin Phillips didn't just secure promotion with his penalty against Watford; he did it with crucial goals against the same opponents, Middlesbrough, Hull and Peterborough.

Julian Speroni didn't just save the game when he closed down Troy Deeney – he did it with incredible saves throughout the season. Our defensive unit performed admirably when it mattered. Our midfield, led by the indomitable captain Mile Jedinak, played its part in preventing and creating goals.

There should also be pride in the fact that, when compared alongside the outlay of clubs like Leicester City and Brighton, the amount paid by the owners to build this squad wasn't excessive.

In fact, basic calculations suggest the club spent less than £2 million in transfer fees when constructing this team.

With promotion comes the inevitable talk of the club having to spend money to secure safety next season – but as Palace have shown this time round, there is no shame in being frugal and, with the right characters, the unlikely can be achieved.

Whatever happens now, Palace fans can enjoy the summer knowing that promotion has been secured; that the club's future is guaranteed with a huge potential windfall and that the squad's hard work this season has ultimately paid off.

Glorious bewilderment.

Robert Sutherland is editor of the Five Year Plan fanzine

'Glorious bewilderment'


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