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 Posted by Jim Daly
Aug 17, 2014

Eagles can still soar after Pulis

Brede Hangeland celebrates scoring on his debut but Crystal Palace could not hold on to their lead away at Arsenal on the opening day of the season.

"Who needs a manager?" the Palace fans sung while 1-0 up at Arsenal, showing that even in the toughest of times they can still find space for humour.

It's been a stressful and depressing week for Eagles supporters. Just when it looked like the club were finally making that step up to become an established Premier League team, the rug was pulled from under everyone's' feet as manager Tony Pulis walked out.

- Report: Arsenal 2-1 Crystal Palace
- Mangan: Arsenal looked rusty
- Millen: Let me continue

Pulis was the reason Palace finished 11th last season -- the club's third highest finish in the top flight, ever. He was the reason most pundits were expecting another similar finish this time around. Now he's gone, Palace are one of the favourites to go down.

Not only that but the Welshman walked out just 48 hours before the new season started and with that, any serenity Eagles fans had before the start of the campaign well and truly went out the window.

But when it came to the big kick off, it wasn't so bad. Arsenal stuttered to start with and Palace held strong. Virtually the same team as last season -- with a couple of upgrades in Brede Hangeland and Fraizer Campbell -- set themselves up in a similar way to Pulis last term.

Mile Jedinak was the best player, again. He nipped in to nick the ball off Alexis Sanchez and Aaron Ramsey numerous times and actually found his teammates with his passing, something he needed to work on over the summer.

The big Aussie even seems to have grown since his last time out for Palace; I swear he gets taller and beefier each time I see him play.

Hangeland was also impressive making his competitive debut and put Keith Millen's men 1-0 up but he'll be disappointed with Arsenal's equaliser. It was he who lost Laurent Koscielny as the Frenchman nodded in at the near post.

In the end, the visitors' hard work was in vain as Ramsey prodded home in the 91st minute but the fans were amazing as usual. Whenever the team concede a goal they up the singing levels and launch into a massive rendition of the famous "we love you" song that has become their calling card. It's impressive and so typical of the nature of the club to never give up or lie down.

Fans have become used to a change in the managerial hot seat. Since Steve Parish and his CPFC2010 consortium took over the club they have hired and fired four managers in four years. So accustomed are the Eagles fans to having a new face so regularly, they sing "South London's Red and Blue Army" instead of a having a manager's name in there like most other teams. Whoever is next may take some time to earn having their name in there.

Defeat is frustrating and wraps up a terrible, but there are positives. Jedinak was once again immense, the new signings look good and the team still have that bullishness about them that Pulis instilled so religiously into the players .

If that's his lasting legacy then it's not all bad and I have a sneaky suspicion the team will have enough to avoid relegation again. If only to prove to Pulis he was wrong to leave in the way he did.

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