Belfast Telegraph

Jason Puncheon wants to break the cycle of Crystal Palace relegation battles

Crystal Palace captain Jason Puncheon has vowed he and his team-mates will avoid next season's battle against relegation.

The midfielder's contribution has been vital to their vastly-improved form since January which led to them finally preserving their Premier League status in Sunday's 4-0 defeat of Hull.

He has been wearing the armband for much of Sam Allardyce's reign as manager, which began in December shortly after Alan Pardew's dismissal.

It was under Pardew that their results became so poor, and largely after he had attempted to overhaul his team pursuing what he described as "street football" - twice last summer breaking their transfer record recruiting Andros Townsend and Christian Benteke.

In each of Palace's four Premier League seasons since their promotion in 2013 they have been threatened by relegation.

Puncheon has hinted they had lost their identity under Pardew - a former Palace player - but he has become determined that will no longer be the case.

"I have great belief that we will not be in this position next season," said the midfielder, 30.

"But we cannot get carried away and not forget that we are Crystal Palace and what got us into this position in the Premier League in the first place. Which is great character, belief and desire.

"And not get carried away thinking we are this magical thing that we are not. We have to build on this now and look forward to next season.

"It is two different seasons (within 2016/17). The first half was poor; the second half you would say was brilliant. We all know we should not have been in this position in the second to last game, but we were."

Sunday's result ensured Hull became the third team, after Sunderland and Middlesbrough, to be relegated.

Since Marco Silva's appointment as manager in January they had appeared capable of securing an unlikely escape from the bottom three, but after their demotion was confirmed Shaun Maloney said: "It's really disappointing for the club.

"It was a tough last 10 or 15 minutes, when the third (Palace goal) went in. It's not a good day.

"It felt like we were still capable of getting back into it until pretty much the third goal in the second half. By then the game was dead, and the disappointment set in."

In a statement released on the club's official website on Monday afternoon, Hull's vice-chairman Ehab Allam said: "Despite my disappointment at suffering relegation, I cannot praise Marco Silva and his staff enough for the job they have done.

"Although we have ultimately fallen short in our goal to remain in the Premier League, the improvement seen in the team under Marco's leadership has been clear for all to see.

"Going forward, I will provide more frequent communication to supporters over the summer as we all rebuild for the challenge ahead."

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