Patrick Vieira's reign is a step into the unknown for Crystal Palace - but the feel-good factor is ringing around Selhurst Park
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George Burley, Dougie Freedman, Ian Holloway, Keith Millen, Tony Pulis, Neil Warnock, Sam Allardyce, Frank De Boer and Roy Hodgson - Crystal Palace's managerial appointments since the financial austerity of 2010 have lacked offensive futility and excitement. However, there is a new man in Croydon, and Patrick Vieira's keen eye for an idealistic style of football has brought Selhurst Park to its feet once again.

SE25 fell to silence at the news of Hodgson's departure in May, knowing that the wait for a new manager would bear progressively heavier as rumours of managerial elections faded in and out. Who would Chairman Steve Parish appoint? Will he follow their routinely lackadaisical approach and opt for asylum in the hands of assurance, or would he instil an air of opportunism?

Naturally, Palace fans had their expectations set low, but the arrival of a former Premier League winning captain upheld revelry of a complete change in direction at the club.

After all, Selhurst Park has become somewhat of a sanctuary for the timeworn British manager. The last time the club had decided to seek a new brand of football, Frank De Boer became subject to the axe just seven Premier League games into his reign. The Dutchman lasted a mere 77 days, acting almost as if he were the football reincarnation of Louis XIX. 

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So, it is no debate that the rendezvous that took place between Vieira and Parish in June reminisces the period of uncertainty that saw Hodgson come to power in 2017. The Inauguration of Vieira, however, seems more like a beacon of hope rather than that of ambivalence.

The Frenchman, who plied his trade firstly as an energetic character for Manchester City's development team, has adopted a Crystal Palace squad with the foundations of a gripping remodelling.

Ageing players who vacuum the club's wage bill have left, and work has already begun on weaving youth into Vieira's newly found setup. And thanks to the former OGC Nice boss' youthful benevolence, two star names from the tier below have entered the ranks along with the manager.

Within a matter of two weeks, the Eagles captured the attention of the topflight with the shrewd signing of Michael Olise - a creative livewire who looks set to be an Eberechi Eze type acquisition. And barely a week later, Marc Guehi followed Olise into the building.

Both players set the wheel in spin for the transfer window that aims to bring the overall squad age down. While Olise was named Young Player of the Year in the Championship last season, Guehi already has an Under-17 World Cup win to his name.

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  • Positive start to pre-season

Under the new guidance, time revolves around Vieira, and this was none the truer when Palace's first pre-season game, against Portsmouth at St George's Park, was postponed. It was a move made for the new manager to have more time with his new squad.

Nonetheless, the Eagles kicked off their summer training campaign not too long later, with a trip to Walsall's Bescot Stadium. A 1-0 victory over the League Two outfit seems less than resounding on the surface, but how the newly shaped Eagles went about their business was something to behold.

Conventionally abstained to the systematically dull 4-4-2 formation under Hodgson, Vieira was quick to tweak the fluidity in his team's playing style, reverting to a 4-3-3 shape in the hope of a more octane-fuelled brand of football.

One of the noticeable role changes in the midlands was the position shift for Wilfried Zaha. Having persisted as a striker for much of the last season, the Ivorian was seen straddling the left flank, cutting inside to pose a significant threat - a change that saw him profit with the only goal of the day.

Despite the level of the opposition being much lower than what Vieira can expect once the season starts, the new-look Palace moved freely across the turf, moving the ball with a certain level of confidence that can only be identified in the most presiding top division squads.

Jairo Riedewald showed his worth from the outset, dictating the centre of the field, while the players around him were free to roam from positions, resulting in a dominant, possession-based performance.

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Furthermore, the club's academy graduates continued to build on the foundations that the strong first half squad had started. Although there were wholesale changes at the midway interval, the youthful second-half squad refused to vacillate. 

Most notably, Rob Street earned himself an assist when his tireless hounding of the Walsall defence, along with his purposeful combination play with Zaha, carved the goal for the Eagles.

Jesurun Rak-Sakyi also continued to impress the Palace faithful, showing his speed to make a difference. But, while two individuals have been picked as key players, each youthful addition to the second-half held their own. 

  • What awaits Palace in the immediate future?

Well, there's still a lot of work for Vieira to get on with before he makes his competitive Premier League debut as a manager in August against Chelsea

The Frenchman will be thrown into the deep end upon the commencement of the 2021/22 season, being dealt the task of four London derbies on the trot. In addition, Palace's first 10 league opponents include seven of last season's top eight. 

There is little time to ease into a new era, to road-test ideas, to let newcomers adjust to a new division. To combat the harsh realities of the Premier League, Vieira will need to delve into the market once again, along with continuing his evaluation of players that need a new contract.

Players like Nathaniel Clyne and Scott Dann - who both featured in the first pre-season outing - still offer a wealth of maturity and levelheadedness which is void of within the new signings.

Furthermore, the club is still interested in a plethora of attacking options. From Conor Gallagher, Ademola Lookman and Noni Madueke to Eddie Nketiah, Crystal Palace's transfer business is far from over.

It was always going to be a risky decision to replace a manager that had started his professional coaching career in 1976 with a coach that was born in the same year - but there is an unwavering hope weaved into the fabric of Selhurst Park this summer; only time will tell how far the Eagles will dare.