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Patrick Vieira: Crystal Palace are ambitious but players need time to adjust

Crystal Palace v Watford – Pre Season Friendly – Selhurst Park
(Image credit: Ashley Western)

Patrick Vieira has promised Crystal Palace will be ambitious under his management but urged a degree of patience with his new-look team.

The Eagles begin a new era away to Champions League winners Chelsea on Saturday, with a number of changes occurring at Selhurst Park during the summer.

Roy Hodgson stepped down after four years at the helm and nine first-teamers departed, including the likes of Gary Cahill, Scott Dann, Patrick Van Aanholt and Andros Townsend, while a raft of new additions have arrived in the shape of defenders Marc Guehi and Joachim Andersen as well as Michael Olise.

Vieira, who was only appointed at the start of July, said: “Of course those players need time and as a manager to put my ideas in place may take longer, but we are quite ambitious and want to perform and compete at this level.

“We are really in a positive way the fact we started the pre-season in a good way, with the way we played those games, and we managed to get a couple of wins that give us confidence, but we know at the same time it will be equally challenging. We will be ready to compete and we want to compete.

“I think this football club has some values. When you look at the way the team conducts itself in the last couple of years, fighting to stay in the Premier League, commitment and hard work is part of the DNA and that is something we have to keep.

“But it will be important for me to try to implement the vision that I have of the game. We have some exciting young players in our football club and it will be important for me to manage and make them play at the level I know they can do, which will help us play some good football.”

While plenty has changed at Selhurst Park, one constant is Wilfried Zaha, who remains despite regularly being heavily linked with a move in recent seasons and in spite of openly stating his ambition to play in the Champions League.

Vieira has been impressed with the Eagles talisman and also confirmed the attacker would continue to stand tall in his fight against racism whilst players and staff take the knee before Premier League games this campaign.

Zaha said back in March, before a match with West Brom, that “kneeling has just become a part of the pre-match routine” and called for “stronger actions” against those who racially abuse.

“Wilf has been fantastic. He has been a leader, like I was expecting. A leader on and off the field, I believe he is one of the best players in the league and we are fortunate to have a player like that in our squad,” Vieira said.

“We talk about it and the friendly game we play he decided to stand up. I fully respect his decision. Personally I will take the knee like the players and it is good to see the Premier League supporting the fight against discrimination and to have their support, it shows everybody is trying to fight against any kind of discrimination.

“I support that myself and Wilf standing doesn’t mean he doesn’t support it, it just means he has a different way of expressing himself and that is something I understand as well.”

Shaun Derry will support Vieira this season after the club announced on Friday the ex-midfielder would step up from his role as Under-23 manager to become first-team coach at Selhurst Park. Paddy McCarthy, another former player, will also be promoted from Under-18 boss to fill the void left by Derry.

It has been a busy week in SE25, with American businessman John Textor confirmed as a new member of the board on Wednesday after making a “substantial minority investment” that has already gone towards the club’s academy redevelopment and helped with the £50million outlay on transfers.

Vieira still wants signings “up front and in the midfield” but confessed Palace would not move away from their usual stance.

The 45-year-old insisted:” I think it is really good news for the football club but the way Palace have been working the last couple of years, they have always been responsible with the way they manage the football club and nothing will change. Obviously we will try to improve the squad but nothing will be crazy.”

Palace will be without Chelsea loanee Conor Gallagher (ineligible), captain Luka Milivojevic (personal reasons), Michael Olise (back), Nathan Ferguson and Ebere Eze (both Achilles) for the clash at Stamford Bridge.