Ever since Damien Delaney stepped through the door at Crystal Palace he has been a vital component of the Eagles side. But the side that Alan Pardew is currently assembling is, in my view, one the best we have had since the era of Mark Bright and Ian Wright – and with the hunt for defensive personnel continuing, I ask whether our fan favourite will continue to have a role this season?
When Palace gained promotion on that marvellous day back at Wembley on May 27 2013, the thought of Delaney becoming a Premiership level defender scared me. I really thought he would struggle when coming up against the likes of Luis Suarez and Sergio Aguero. But in our first season back in the ‘promised land’ he surprised me with his assured, and confident performances, and he has become one of the first names on the team-sheet. But being 34 and entering the final stages of his career, is it time Palace look for a replacement? Or do they stick with a trusted ally?
Form would suggest Palace have nothing to worry about, Delaney played 32 times last season which is a great achievement, and his displays showed that he can still cut it in the ever-evolving and faster moving Premier League. ‘Class is permanent, form is temporary,’ is this true of Delaney? I wouldn’t so much put Delaney in the bracket of ‘classy’ – but he is certainly what I call an ‘old-fashioned, no nonsense’ defender who gets the job done.
Form is a funny old thing, players can be on fire one moment and then the rest of the season they can be totally lacklustre. Palace have been lucky that Delaney has been consistent throughout his time in South London. But with this Palace side threatening to do something quite remarkable in the coming years, can Pardew rely on a defender who is entering the twilight of his career? He was given a one-year contract extension at the beginning of this summer by the club, so Pardew obviously feels he needs a character like Delaney around the squad. But with the rumours linking the club to Swansea’s Ashley Williams it does look as though Pardew is planning for the future.
If I was pushed to give an answer at this moment in time; I would like to see another younger, fresher centre-back arrive at the club – someone to compliment Scott Dann; Williams would be the ideal candidate, but, whether that will materialise is another story. On the other hand, Delaney has evolved into a solid and reliable centre-half, but I just feel fresh blood is needed to take Palace’s defensive line in another direction.
Right now though, he is certainly not someone who I would let go, his experience could be a real get out jail card for some of the younger members of our squad. Add to this that he has already scored a goal in the opening weekends 1-3 win over a Norwich – and it seems Delaney is someone who knows the team is getting younger and more exciting, so is stepping up his game in timely fashion to make sure he keeps his starting berth.