Crystal Palace are a club who have always taken our south London roots seriously; a fact that new boss Frank de Boer must buy into completely if he truly wants to make a success of his stay in SE25.
Although it can sometimes seem as though we’re trapped in an echo-chamber of self-congratulation, the feelings Palace fans have for south London are and always have been a huge part of what makes our football club unique. Despite the regular digs from opposing fans, our supporters are all bred to see our location as a badge of honour rather than a drawback. The sense of ownership fostered by the official tag-line “South London is Ours” says it all. There might be plenty who look down their nose at the area but to us, it’s home.
The above piece, written by George Elek, taps into that sense of identity as something closely aligned with the feelings experienced by fans of Frank de Boer’s first club Ajax, arguing rather beautifully, that if the Dutchman truly hopes to build a lasting legacy at Selhurst Park, he’ll be forced to buy into the local culture, alongside his quest for results from week to week.
Whilst the Ajax academy has been famed for producing all manner of outrageously talented footballers over the years, Palace too have a history of bringing through youngsters that make a sizeable mark in the professional game. With Wilfried Zaha currently the poster boy for those bubbling away under the surface of the first-team, there is hope amongst fans and board members alike that de Boer can bring that production line back to life over the course of his three-year contract; integrating them in a way which takes measured risks in the hope of creating a youth culture which flourishes against the odds.
Having watched the likes of Nathaniel Clyne, Victor Moses, Jonny Williams and the aforementioned Zaha all burst onto the scene in the days before Palace made it back to English football’s top table, the true test for de Boer will be whether or not he can blood the latest batch within the cutthroat environment of the Premier League. It’s a bold plan but one that is essential if Palace are intent on standing out from the crowd for years to come.