After popping up with a goal at Carrow Road, Crystal Palace vice-captain Damien Delaney has every right to be over the moon with the first weekend of the new league season.
Selected to start in the centre of defence next to Scott Dann, the Irishman oversaw a stoic performance from his teammates, digging in impressively under heavy second half pressure to come away with all three points.
Whilst it would have been easy to fold, Delaney was quick to reference the fighting spirit amongst the squad, which has been in place from the moment we made the step up to the Premier League in August of 2013.
“That is what we are about, and have been for a couple of seasons, putting bodies on the line, getting blocks and really digging in when the going gets tough.
If we can keep those traits and with the quality we have added, hopefully it can be a good year for us.
With guys like Cabaye, who are going to be important when we are at home and see a little bit more of the ball. With him, and Punch (Jason Puncheon), Wilf (Zaha), Yannick (Bolasie), Connor Wickham and Muzza (Glenn Murray), the attacking talent is there.
“We are looking forward to it and it is our job at the back to give them a platform to go and win it, so that we are not 2-0 down and having to climb mountains.”
This has been the change we were looking for, without losing the plus points that we have, if we can add to it then hopefully it will be a better season.”
There has been a great deal of talk this summer over whether or not it is time to move Damien away from the first-team picture and replace him with a younger man, but if last weeeknd’s efforts prove anything, it’s that the former Ipswich man still has the fire in his belly to be a success.
Of course, he could be stand to make some improvements to his game on a technical level, but the big man does possess attributes that you will struggle to replicate elsewhere. Hugely respected in the dressing room by both the players and the coaching staff, Delaney is a man that Alan Pardew can rely on when the going gets tough, which contrary to popular belief, is often one of the hardest qualities to come across in any squad.
Well aware of his own limitations, Damien plays the game as if each outing could be his last, lapping up every second of the experience whilst still offering the team the level of defensive nous necessary to provide a platform for success, as shown against Alex Neill’s Canaries just a few days ago.
He may not have been everyone’s choice of starting defender prior to last weekend, but the Irishman hasn’t got this far in the game by paying attention to the opinions of others, he’s hardly likely to start now.