Belfast Telegraph

Ambitious De Boer has major plans after taking reins at Palace

By Jack Lang

Frank de Boer says he wants to turn Crystal Palace into a team that can dominate matches in the Premier League as well as stun the big boys on the counter-attack.

The Eagles pulled their socks up just in time to avoid relegation in 2016-17, with their ability to pull a surprise result out of the hat under Sam Allardyce making up for a disappointing season at home at Selhurst Park.

But former Ajax boss De Boer, who beat off stiff competition to make the Palace job his own, is eyeing a little more control when the new season gets under way.

“I have my own type of coaching and style, but the most important thing is that I want us to play dominant (football) when we can,” said the Dutchman. “That means also trying to be attractive — we have a fantastic, enthusiastic fanbase and they want to see that kind of football.

“You have to be realistic and see what the qualities of the team are. Sometimes you have to play reactive football a little bit more, but I want to play dominant if we can, and if not, we have to be very compact. The quality up front is quite high. Every team nowadays should play two or three systems.

“We are not naive, but we want to also dominate when we don’t have the ball. That’s the key thing we will try to do. If everybody does (their jobs) well, we can achieve that.

“If you don’t want to struggle with relegation, home games are very important. We have to get most of our points at Selhurst Park, with the fanatic fans behind us. It has to be possible.”

De Boer has a reputation for putting faith in youth, and is keen to make use of Palace’s impressive production line, helping to strengthen the local bloodline that runs through the squad via the likes of Wilfried Zaha.

“They are famous for the youth academy and have raised good players,” De Boer continued. “I will give youth the opportunity when they are good enough. I will be interested to see how talented the players are and if they can join the first team. That gives confidence to the academy.

“Ajax is famous for the academy and I had the feeling when I arrived there that young players wanted to leave. Martin Jol (De Boer’s predecessor) didn’t spend much time seeing the youth academy.

“I wanted to bring (the confidence in youth) back and I want that feeling here. It’s important for the DNA of the club — that the fans can see Zaha and know that, ‘This is my hometown boy’.”

De Boer admitted he is delighted to be in the Premier League at last, 12 months after he came close to joining Everton.

“It was quite close (with Everton),” added the 47-year-old. “It depended on Ronald Koeman at that time. First he didn’t want to go and in the end he did. Maybe I was the second pick, I don’t know. Maybe they chose him for experience.

“Every club wants to make the right choice. In the end, we had a talk, Steve (Palace chairman Parish) and I, with my agent. We had a good feeling and the prospect of managing a team in the Premier League. I was excited.

“There are almost no weak teams in the Premier League, so I’m very excited to be manager of this club. When he asked me, I did my homework and tried to get more information about the club... not only about the players but the history of the club.

“A friend congratulated me, saying, ‘You can be very proud, you’re one of 20 managers in the biggest league in the world’. I feel the same way. I’m manager of a fantastic club and looking forward to starting.”

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