Sunday 24 September 2017

Frank de Boer keen to remain pragmatic at Palace

Frank de Boer oversees his first competitive game as Crystal Palace manager against Huddersfield
Frank de Boer oversees his first competitive game as Crystal Palace manager against Huddersfield

Frank de Boer has denied his plans for Crystal Palace to adopt the popular 3-4-3 formation means they are about to embark on a season of "adventurous and exciting" football.

The expectation since his appointment as manager is that he would attempt to implement the style with which his former club Ajax excelled in the process of winning four Eredivisie titles.

There was also therefore the risk that he would be repeating a mistake made by one of his predecessors, Alan Pardew, 12 months ago, whose pursuit of what he called "street football" led to a relegation battle and eventually the sack.

Much of Chelsea's success under Antonio Conte has owed to the 3-4-3 shape that so many have since tried to emulate, and the prospect of Palace's front three consisting of Wilfried Zaha, Andros Townsend and Christian Benteke would excite.

However De Boer, having swiftly lost his job as Inter Milan manager following a disappointing start to the past season, insists his team will be taking few risks.

They on Saturday host Huddersfield in their opening fixture of the Premier League season, and the Dutchman said: "Everybody says that 3-4-3 can be very adventurous or exciting but you can also say you're playing with five defenders.

"It's how you look at it. If you have the ball it's very offensive; if you don't you're dropping back and it's very defensive. Louis van Gaal at the World Cup (with Holland), he played 3-4-3 or 5-3-2 but they mostly let the opponent get the ball and played in transition with Arjen Robben; Juventus were very offensive.

"It depends how you try to dominate the game; we will try to dominate but we have to be realistic where we came from. We want to be a solid club and there are many good teams in the Premier League so a lot of times we will be pulled back and have the security of five at the back."

Pardew's successor Sam Allardyce abandoned his model to adopt a far more organised, unambitious game that ultimately preserved their Premier League status shortly before his resignation.

De Boer, who in 2012 rejected the chance to manage Liverpool, enters English football as his replacement after the disappointment of Inter, but insists he does not have to prove himself again.

"(I'm not here) to prove people wrong," said the 47-year-old, who remains without the unfit Yohan Cabaye, James McArthur, Bakary Sako and Pape Souare. "I knew with Inter that it was quite a hard job but when a chance comes with a major club in the world I'm going to try, even though I knew it would be very difficult.

"They didn't give me enough time so I have to respect that but I'm still confident in my quality."

Of Souare's imminent return, following a career-threatening car crash in which he broke his thigh and jaw, he added: "He's scheduled to make his first minutes in two weeks and it's unbelievable. I already gave a compliment to all the medical staff and the coaches because everyone doubted if he's going to be able to play again.

"What I saw on Wednesday, how he looked, how he moves around, looks very promising so I'm pleased for him he's able to get on the level that he is."

Press Association

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