By Christian Radnedge
Crystal Palace are enjoying their status as Premier League underdogs and are aiming to finish in the top 10 for the first time in almost seven years under new manager Patrick Vieira, the club’s American co-owner Josh Harris said on Wednesday.
Harris, who along with compatriot David Blitzer joined Palace chairman Steve Parish with a general partnership stake in the club in 2015, added that they had to be more strategic in the transfer market to compete with their moneyed rivals.
“There’s a lot of money exchanged for different players … whereas in the U.S. leagues those are highly regulated, they are very restricted,” Harris, who also owns NBA team the Philadelphia 76ers and NHL franchise the New Jersey Devils, said at the Leaders Week sports conference.
“The NFL, the NBA, the NHL and the MLB all go to great lengths to make sure that everyone has the same shot to win, meaning there are limits to what you can spend on players.
“In the Premier League those limits are a lot looser, so you have teams that spend a lot more on players…
“We (Palace) are scrappy and on the move and in mid-table, hopefully moving towards the top 10. So for us it’s fun, it’s enjoyable,” added Harris, with Palace sitting in 14th spot.
“We like that underdog (spirit) but being on the rise. But we have to be a bit more agile, a bit more fleet of foot – those are the differences.”
Palace last finished in the top 10 in 2015 under Alan Pardew. They have flirted with relegation since but have always managed to ensure their safety come the end of the season.
French World Cup-winner Vieira’s appointment in the close season was meant to herald a new dawn of exciting football at Selhurst Park, especially with a focus on youth such as newly signed teenage winger Michel Olise and French striker Odsonne Edouard, after clearing out several older players.
They recovered from a winless opening three Premier League games to secure an impressive 3-0 home victory over Tottenham Hotspur last month and fought back to draw 2-2 with Leicester City at the weekend.
However, Harris knows that the threat of relegation means any changes carry a huge amount of risk.
“Relegation certainly forces you to be focused on the immediate outcome of the team all the time,” he said.
“Obviously, we’ve got very young (players) at Palace and it’s working for us and Patrick Vieira has been a really great choice, we’re very lucky to have him.
“But when you make changes in the Premier League, it’s very important (to get that right) because of relegation.”