Crystal Palace V Cardiff at Selhurst Park : Match Preview

06 December 2013 03:01
Crystal Palace V Cardiff - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Fighting spirit the key for Pulis

Crystal Palace have found life back at the top table tough, but manager Tony Pulis has promised they will be "fighting for every crumb" in order to stay there.

After an eight-year absence, the south Londoners' Premier League return has hardly been the most enjoyable experience to date.

Ian Holloway left just months after leading the Eagles up via the Championship play-offs, having overseen losses in all but one of the opening eight matches despite bringing in 14 new players.

It took a month for ex-Stoke manager Pulis to finally be named successor, but there are at last some positive signs.

Palace moved off the bottom after their midweek victory against West Ham in Pulis' first home match in charge and now welcome fellow promoted side Cardiff to Selhurst Park.

Malky Mackay's side sit 15th in the standings after a decent start to the season, but the fact they have won the same number of matches as Palace highlights how tight it is down at the bottom.

"If we don't win games, we mustn't lose games," Pulis said. "That is what Cardiff have done, they have got four more draws than us. It is getting every point.

"When I first got promoted, I can remember talking to a very experienced Premier League manager who said to me goal difference is vital.

"It is an extra point at the end of the season, that is how tight it is in the Premiership at the end of the season. Teams have gone down and been relegated because of goal difference, never mind that single point.

"So you are fighting for every crumb on the table. We're sat at the top table and we're at the bottom of that, but we're sat at it.

"You have to work for everything and make sure that everything works for you."

Pulis, who has no injury worries ahead of the weekend's clash, was quick to praise the work done by counterpart Mackay in south Wales and rejected the notion it was extra important to beat another promoted outfit.

The match will, though, have added significance for sporting director Iain Moody, facing his former club for the first time since his peculiar recent exit.

A key part of Mackay's backroom team at Watford and then Cardiff, the head of recruitment was controversially ousted from his position in October and replaced by 23-year-old Kazakh Alisher Apsalyamov.

It was a surprise move by owner Vincent Tan and one Palace swiftly made the most of, appointing Moody as their sporting director.

"Iain is good," Pulis said. "I did not know him until I joined the football club, but he is good.

"He is in Europe watching a game on Thursday, so hopefully he will bring me some good players."

It was all Pulis had to say on the matter, although he freely admitted that Moody will have a busy time ahead of him when the January transfer window opens.

Peter Crouch at former club Stoke is said to be one of Pulis' targets as he looks to beef up a frontline that has impressed the Welshman so far.

Cameron Jerome, another of his former players at the Britannia Stadium, has impressed in his two matches at the helm, as has Marouane Chamakh.

It has been a difficult few years for the Morocco international after a move to Arsenal soon went sour.

Chamakh struggled for form at the Emirates Stadium and also on loan at West Ham, against whom he netted the winner on Tuesday evening.

"He has been fantastic in the two games we've played," Pulis said. "We watched him at Bordeaux when he had that very, very good season before Arsenal took him and he looked a top player.

"He did well initially at Arsenal, but he has just lost his way and people do that.

"I've only been here and watched the team in three games and three games don't determine whether he is going to be the right one or wrong one for us.

"He has got to keep doing what he is doing, and if he does that then brilliant."

Cardiff boss Malky Mackay has heaped praise on Moody as he prepares to face his former head of recruitment, but believes it is Pulis who will have the biggest influence on Crystal Palace's battle against relegation.

Moody is now sporting director at Palace, having left his role as Cardiff's head of recruitment in October under controversial circumstances.

Moody helped Mackay bring 25 players in to Cardiff during a little over two years together in south Wales, before he was replaced by Kazakh Alisher Apsalyamov.

Mackay has nothing but kind words for Moody, and expects him to make a difference in the long term, but with just the January transfer window ahead, the Scot says it will be new manager Pulis who plays the biggest part if Palace are to survive.

Mackay said: "Iain is a good man and over a period of time will bring a structure to a recruitment department and a common sense approach.

"He ran the recruitment department of the football club here and ran it very well. He spoke to agents and football clubs about players and contracts and had scouts working for him which all filtered into him and then filtered into me.

"It was a good structure and I am sure that is what he will do there."

But when asked if Moody's expertise could help keep Palace in the Premier League for next term, he said: "Tony Pulis is going to be the biggest influence on whether Palace stay up or not.

"Tony is a very experienced manager and someone that does a lot of hard work with his team.

"But it will take him time to mould Palace in the way he wants it."

Palace's win over West Ham on Tuesday moved them off the bottom of the table and raised hopes that the Eagles can recover from a dreadful start to the season to avoid a rapid return to the Championship.

Cardiff are currently four points clear of the Londoners after their draw with Stoke, and Mackay expects a difficult test against a side given a sudden injection of confidence.

"It's another tough away game," said Mackay. "I get the fact that fans see the Arsenal and Manchester United games as exciting and also there is thought that we were probably not expected to get anything from those games.

"There is a hope we will get something from these other games. I just take it in cold hard facts of how we approach the game.

"Palace have got a new manager and that always brings that little bit of momentum and impetus as far as a group of players are concerned as was shown on Tuesday night.

"But they were never a club that were that far detached. I've watched some of the games they've played on TV and they have not been that much worse than anyone else.

"If you are in this league you are here on merit. There are some funny results that will be thrown up throughout the season."

Source: PA