How far can Pardew take Palace?

Crystal Palace fans may well be dreaming of Europe after their impressive start to the season.

Palace have got off to a great start in the Premier League, but just how far can Alan Pardew take them?

One or two eyebrows were raised when Pardew walked out of Newcastle United to take over a Palace side deep in relegation trouble, but no-one can argue he made the right decision.

Pardew escaped the boiling pot at St James' Park and with Palace sitting pretty in the Champions League places, the Magpies are rooted in the relegation zone.

Palace have kicked on since Pardew took charge, while the Magpies have sunk like a stone and it is no surprise it coincided with the former Eagles player heading back to Selhurst Park as manager. Pardew's win percentage since taking over at Palace last January is a remarkable 61.29 and the improvement is underlined by the fact they only had three wins from their opening 20 Premier League matches and looked destined for the drop under former managers Tony Pulis and Neil Warnock.

However, they won three times as many matches in the second half of the season to finish well away from the relegation places and were even sniffing around a Europa League spot.

Pardew then faced a big summer to build a squad capable of taking the club on to the next level and, backed by co-chairman Steve Parish, he has managed to do that. Crucial to the plan was keeping hold of the star players currently on the books, and again Pardew came up trumps managing to convince both Scott Dann and Yannick Bolasie to pen new deals despite interest from the likes of Everton and Tottenham.

Then he had to recruit wisely and the signing of Yohan Cabaye from Paris Saint-Germain for a club-record fee certainly turned heads and convinced the fans they could be going places.

The Frenchman has been a revelation this season and not only does he have a huge impact on the pitch, but moving forward he will help attract even more quality players to Selhurst Park.

Pardew also has a great knack of getting the very best out of his players, as proven with the way he has handled Wilfried Zaha this season. The talented winger was criticised for his work-rate against Tottenham recently but has since responded with fine performances against Charlton in the League Cup and Watford in the Premier League.

The Eagles boss has the players believing in him and the same can be said of the fans who create a hostile atmosphere for any visiting teams and really do act as the 12th man.

Scoring goals could be one problem, though, and Pardew may be wishing he had not let Glenn Murray join Bournemouth on transfer deadline day. Of the current crop of strikers Dwight Gayle has undoubted potential but needs to score goals consistently, the pressure is on Connor Wickham following his big-money move in the summer, while Fraizer Campbell has struggled.

Marouane Chamakh is also on the books but the fact that Pardew has resorted at times to playing Bolasie as a lone striker highlights the fact that a new frontman is needed.

This season there is no reason why Pardew cannot take Palace to a top-eight finish, with the possibility of a good FA Cup run also on the cards.

However, with further shrewd investment, and if Pardew can find that elusive striker to get him 15 goals a season, there is no reason why they cannot be knocking on the door of a place in Europe, something Palace fans could only dream of 12 months ago.

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