What is a Sporting Director and how can one help Crystal Palace?

Written by Naveed Khan

Dougie Freedman has today been appointed as Crystal Palace's Sporting Director. But what does that mean for the club and Frank de Boer? Here's Naveed Khan with some insight. 

DougieFreedman 551058

1995, 2000, 2005, 2010 (twice) and now 2017 – the years in which Dougie Freedman has either joined Crystal Palace or taken up a new role within the club. He is now the club’s Sporting Director the idea being to work alongside the Chairman, the Recruitment Team and the Manager.

It’s the fourth time Palace have ventured down this road. The first time was in 1995, when the club appointed Steve Coppell as Technical Director, with Ray Lewington and Peter Nicholas in charge of first team affairs (ironically the structure under which Freedman was first signed as a player by Palace). Coppell left for Manchester City in 1996 and was not replaced. A second attempt was made in 2005 when Bob Dowie was appointed and then again in 2014 with Iain Moody taking up the role.

Embed from Getty Images

While none of those has lasted long, it is a position that three of the last four owners have tried to utilise. Steve Parish has said it is a role he’s long wanted to fill; perhaps the right candidate was not available or the managers at the time did not want to be undermined. But having worked with a Sporting Director at Ajax and Inter Milan, Frank De Boer will be aware of the benefits and pitfalls and how it impacts on his role as manager.

The timing has caught some by surprise – the season having started, signings being awaited and a manager still waiting for his first win. Is it a PR stunt? Is he a contingency should De Boer leave?

Embed from Getty Images

On the face of it, the appointment of a Sporting Director is a progressive one. It gives the chance for appropriate focus to be given to the club’s infrastructure. It allows the manager to focus more on first team affairs while someone with an in-depth working knowledge of football able to conduct the administrative function as opposed to the Chairman. It also adds weight to Tim Coe’s team as player recruitment models evolve.

The days of hearing about players, going to watch them play and evaluating them are close to becoming a thing of the past. Now, agencies are able to feed data directly into the systems of clubs and recruitment teams crunch numbers and use this as a first port of call in player evaluation. It makes sense that joining that team is somebody who has played the game, scouted, coached and managed.

A Sporting Director with a playing and coaching pedigree is able to balance the needs of the manager as well as delve into the analytics which have a degree of emphasis placed upon them this season.

Embed from Getty Images

(Oliver Burke played under Dougie Freedman at Nottingham Forest and is now being linked with a move to Palace from RB Leipzig) 

Further, should the appointment be long-term, it allows for continuity behind the scenes, a development of strategy and implementation of longer term plans not contingent on the retention of any particular manager. In turn, it should allow for more wrinkle-free managerial appointments and the idea that the club has a blueprint and a manager is hired to see that through as opposed to each coming with his own ideas.

Whether Freedman is the right appointment, only time will tell. There is potential for some sentimental fans re-writing his time as manager and longing for him to be appointed as manager if results do not pick up. While he signed some value as manager at Palace, he did not replicate this at Bolton or Forest so there will be lingering doubts. However, given his century of goals for the team, his efforts to keep the club ticking in the build up to CPFC2010 taking over, his work as both Assistant Manager and Manager it is clear there is a bond between him and the club. At the very least, given he’s saved us three times, he deserves a chance to prove himself.

VIDEO: Frank de Boer opens up about first few weeks in Palace job

Written by Robert Sutherland

Frank de Boer is enjoying being back in club football at Crystal Palace after eight months out of a job.

The Dutchman won multiple titles in his first job at Ajax but then lasted just three months at Inter at the start of last season, getting the boot in November.

But he is back in work at Palace and watched his first game as Eagles boss at Maidstone United on Saturday.

And he enjoyed being back in the dugout, saying: "Yeah very good [to be back].

"People [at Palace] are very helpful; a lot of quality not only in the team but also in the staff so we are very pleased.

"It’s always nice. The games are always the nicest ones of course training is also nice but in the end it’s all about the games." 

Watch De Boer talk about this and more in the video below.


Jason Pucheon will continue as Palace captain under De Boer

Written by Robert Sutherland

Frank de Boer has confirmed that Jason Puncheon will continue as club captain.

Punch was handed the armband by Sam Allardyce last season and the Eagles immedieatly started winning games.

He's a local lad who loves being the skipper of the team he grew up round the corner from. He told the FYP Podcast in April: "I just always try to be me and when I cross that white line as far as I'm concerned all I want to do is achieve a win and if I can help everyone around me - and I might not have the best game myself - if I've done that and they have [played well] then I've done my job.

"It's emotional. It's a special moment for me, being at my hometown club. I've sat in those stands before, I've walked these roads when there's big games going on, so to sit there and be able to do it myself, I take great pride in in it."

Talking about Puncheon’s new role, De Boer said to Palace's official website: “He has to be an example for the team and understand the philosophy of what we want, and he can be that not just for the first-team players but also for the youngsters and that’s very important.

“At the beginning I had a look around and got to know everyone better but I had my information that he would be the best captain and he has proven that in the past three weeks. Therefore, for me there was no discussion; he is our captain.

“He knows the responsibility and what that means, and he has to be an example of what Crystal Palace is.”

Puncheon always knew he would play for Palace one day and finally returned to the team he played youth football for in August 2013, first on loan from Southampton and then in a permanent deal a few months later.

Puncheon added: “It’s a proud moment but the important thing for me is transferring what we want to be as a football club from the management and coaching staff to the players, whether they are senior players or youngsters.”

Listen to Punch on the FYP Pod here


Frank de Boer gave the kids a chance vs Maidstone and they took it

Written by FYP Fanzine

Frank de Boer won his first game as Palace manager in a 3-1 pre-season friendly win at Maidstone.

He promised to give the club's youngsters a chance and did just that, asking U23 boss Ricahrd Shaw to put out a young team.

The kids did him proud and came away comfortable winners, although it was Jordon Mutch, the only first team squad man who played, who grabbed a brace.

Youngster Jacob Berkeley grabbed the third after Joe Piggot had equalised for Maidstone. The likes of Levi Lumeka, Jason Lokilo, Andre Coker, Kian Flanagan and Tyler Brown all impressed for the young Eagles.

De Boer was pleased with what he saw and is planning more opportunities for the kids.

He told the Croydon Advertiser: "I think it was very good. The fist half I think was the most important for a good start. I saw some very good things I think Richard [Shaw, U23 boss] did a very good job to get them in the shape that you want to see.

"So I’m very happy with the performance today and looking forward to some of the [young] players joining in with first team training and getting that experience

"We already had some inside information on who they are but you want to see them in a game and I think they confirmed what has been said, that there are some good talented players and in the future maybe hopefully be first-team players.

"It’s what the club want and it’s what I want. First you look to the academy and then out from there.

"If there is no talent right now on that specific spot then you look further but we were always going to look to the academy to give them a chance.

"They did some very good things that we want to see. We spoke about what we want but they have already shown a lot of progress.

"Of course there are details and things where they can get better but for the first time they have played this [way] it’s a very good compliment for the boys."