Why Crystal Palace are this season's surprise package.

When the Hodgson era at Crystal Palace came to an end in May 2021 there were mixed feelings at Selhurst Park. Eagles fans are generally grateful for the work he did keeping the club in the top division but many found his brand of football – robust defence and break away goals dependent on the talents of club legend Zaha – to be somewhat uninspiring.

There was excitement around the search for a new manager in the summer but at the same time with 10 senior players from an aging squad out of contract, understandable trepidation about how the club could navigate the necessary transition and integrate new players and a new manager in the short time available before the new season.

Selhurst Park Holmesdale Stand

After near misses with Nuno Espirito Santo and Lucien Favre the club settled on Patrick Viera as their new boss in the first week of July, with just over a month to go until their first competitive match of the 2021-22 season against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Viera wasn't the first-choice appointment and a mixed record in his time at the New York City FC and Nice meant nerves weren't entirely settled.

Now, four months on and Palace sit 10 th in the table, just two points off Manchester United in sixth and with and a fully deserved 2-0 away win against Manchester City under their belts. Their brand of attacking, front-foot football has been widely praised and with a favourable run of fixtures ahead of them in November, Palace fans are starting to feel cautiously optimistic about where they may end up whilst the odds on a top half finish have been slashed at most soccer gambling sites online.

So, from the end of the Hodgson era to now, how have Palace turned things around so fast? Here are a few good reasons to consider.

Patrick Viera has proved the doubters wrong.

Summer 2021 was a tough time to be bringing in a new manager – just ask Spurs – and the former Arsenal legend's appointment raised some eyebrows. Some success at Nice had preceded a poor final run of games in charge and there were doubts about his style of play. But not anymore. Palace have gone from a robust defensive low block to football played out in style from the back with swift build up and aggressive pressing without the ball.

After a slow start with losses against Chelsea and draws against Brentford and West Ham, Palace notched up their first home victory in style, 3-0 against Spurs. Since then they have won away at City and at home against Wolves, with late goals conceded in draws with Brighton and Arsenal. But even in those drawn games Palace's style has kept the doubters at bay and the fans are 100% behind their new manager with nearly a third of the season behind them.

The Palace board's role in the club's upwards trajectory should also be noted. They took a risk in appointing Viera and were brave considering the outcome of the last ill-fated attempt to appoint a progressive manager. And their bold moves in the transfer market have been equally successful in turning around an aging squad and bringing young talent at a tricky time.

At the back, two new centre halves are already a formidable and trusted partnership – both Guehi and Anderson have great positional sense, are good tacklers and calm and considered on the ball with a good range of passing that sets the foundations for Palace attacks. In the midfield, loanee Conor Gallagher from Chelsea is fast shaping up to the player of the season with goals, assist and tenacious tackling. Whilst upfront, new signing from the Championship, Michael Olise is pressing for a place in the starting line-up after exciting cameos away against City and at home against Leicester where he scored his first goal for the club.

Integrating these new players into the squad whilst adapting old hands like Joel Ward, Christian Benteke and James Macarthur to the new style of play has been the key to Palace's strong performances this season. And for this, the board, the new manager and the players themselves deserve praise.

Now with tough away fixtures at Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal behind them, the club can look forward to a run of games against struggling Burnley, Villa and Leeds to come in November. After an anxious summer, Crystal Palace fans are starting to settle in and enjoy what could be one of their best seasons for some time.