Barely 72 hours after the 2016-17 Premier League season had come to an end did Sam Allardyce deliver the first bombshell ahead of the new campaign, after confirming his desire to retire from management after just five months at Selhurst Park. The last year had indeed been a tumultuous one for the ex-England manager yet it left Eagles chairman Steve Parish searching for his sixth permanent boss in three years.

With the blank canvass of the off-season, Palace took their merry time and installed Dutchman Frank de Boer at the helm a month later, with his main objective being to instill some stability to a club who have rarely settled since returning to the top flight in 2013. The delayed appointment of De Boer is perhaps reflective of the club's stalling progress in the transfer window which at the time writing has seen just two new faces arrive.

Jairo Riedewald and Ruben Loftus-Cheek may add to an otherwise thin Palace squad, but there is little doubt the retention of Wilfried Zaha is the headline success of the summer. Interest in Christian Benteke and Andros Townsend also appears to have been warned off, much in part down to the arrival of De Boer - who has much to prove in England have been regularly overlooked for other jobs.

Last season

Premier League: 14th
FA Cup: Fourth round
EFL Cup: Third round

Manager - Frank de Boer

The timing of the 47-year-old's arrival in the Premier League is somewhat curious given that he was turned down by the likes of Liverpool, Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur in the midst of winning four league titles with Ajax, and yet comes to England follows his sacking by Inter Milan after just 85 days in charge.

Therefore, there remains several questions over his managerial acumen at elite level. Having won the Champions League as a player, made over a century of caps for his country and played for the likes of Barcelona, Galatasaray and Rangers, he lends Palace with some much-needed super-stardom but whether that comes at the expense of credibility remains to be seen.

Key player - Wilfried Zaha

It may have come seven years after his senior debut, but finally Zaha is producing the kind of form which justified the hype around his move to Manchester United and being awarded an England cap aged 19. He ended last season as one of the stand-out players from the last third of the campaign and was key in keeping Palace from the drop. Signing a new deal was the perfect tonic after the shock exit Allardyce.

Zaha can expected to be given a new lease of life under De Boer and the onus is on him, and Christian Benteke, to turn a side who have appeared stodgy under the likes of Neil Warnock, Tony Pulis and Alladyce into one which can entertain. Only then can he make England regret losing him to the Ivory Coast, like they did in January of this year.


Last season's battle for survival after the exit of Alan Pardew has certainly dampened demands around Selhurst Park, yet the arrival of De Boer will have raised hopes a return to mid-table is possible. New signings have not arrived in the droves that were expected but there will at least be an expectation that the style of football - so derided under previous regimes - can be improved. Furthermore, the victory over eventual champions Chelsea during the twilight of the campaign provides hope they can go to-to-toe with the league big-hitters.

IBT prediction: 12th

There are no guarantees De Boer will replicate the success he had in the Netherlands, and a bedding in process will follow. The lack of depth in key positions has not yet been addressed while any long-term injury to the likes of Zaha, Townsend and Benteke will leave them exposed. Keep that trio fit and a scrap with the other mid-table lurkers beckons, rather than a relegation battle.

Frank de Boer
De Boer arrives in England after being sacked less than three months into his spell at Inter Milan. Getty Images