Crystal Palace achieved what many had dismissed as impossible when recovering from a run of only one win in eleven games to come through the play-off gauntlet and take their place at England’s top table once more.
Fans in south west London had been gradually preparing themselves for such a feat in the early stages of the campaign when the Eagles were perched at the table’s summit but dreams of automatic elevation went as soon as they came.
Palace sleepwalked for the final weeks of the regular season but no manager can claim to be more at home in the most inhospitable of sporting challenges than manager Ian Holloway.
The unbridled boss won his second Playoff showdown from four appearances, but once again the layers are certain that the fate of Blackpool three years ago awaits the Selhurst residents.
They have been promptly installed as the favourites to finish bottom at 13/5 and have been dismissed at odds of 1/2 to be relegated straight back to the Championship.
For all the plaudits that Palace will rightly receive, the accusation that they have had an unhealthy reliance on Wilfried Zaha, especially since the injury to leading goalscorer Glenn Murray, is also not without substance.
Zaha is Old Trafford bound and despite ambitious claims that the star winger could be loaned out again by Man United for next season, punters investing in the club’s performance next term should assume no deal will be done.
As appears with the other two teams to enter the top division next term Palace will need to bolster their squad. However, observers of Holloway’s reign at the Tangerines will have seen the faith shown in the players that gave them the dilemma of whether to strengthen in a stronger league. Nothing from the manager or the chairman, Steve Parish, suggests their approach in the upcoming transfer market will be any different.
High profile example of mismanagement at clubs newly promoted has made the same mistakes more difficult to make and Parish won’t succumb to temptation. Whether that rational ethos is compatible with survival is another question.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publication