The new season has arrived. How would you assess pre-season?
Pre-season is always trying to put some ideas in place, and try to understand players and players try to understand how the manager wants them to express themselves on the field. In that way I think it was quite positive.
What’s the team news?
We all know about the long term injuries. But so far, everybody’s feeling good and ready to start the season.
Scott Dann’s departure was announced yesterday. That means Dan and Gary Cahill aren’t back for the new season. You’ve signed new defenders but is it a slight concern of a lack of experience at the back?
Not really. We made some new signing at the back, and they are young. Yes they are quite talented, but I believe they have what it takes to perform in the Premier League. We lost some players with experience; I think those players did really well for the football club in the last couple of years. The new ones who arrived, I believe they are ready to compete at this level.
One area you may lack in the squad is depth, are you expecting any more signings?
When you look at the squad we are maybe a little bit more light on on numbers, and we are working hard to improve the squad [with] the window are still open. We will try to bring players that can improve our squad.
Is there a particular position you’re looking at? Any you’d really love?
I think where we are maybe a little bit more short is up front and in the midfield, I think it would be good to reinforce those positions.
New investment in the club this week, have you spoken to the chairman about it? Any chance you’ll get to spend any of that?
I think it is really good news, obviously. But you know when you look at the way they’ve been working in the last couple of years, they’ve always been responsible on the way they manage this football club, and nothing will change. Obviously, we will try to improve the squad, but nothing will be crazy.
There have been a lot of changes this summer, and the players will probably need time. Is that the key here?
Those players need time. As a manager, of course, to make my ideas in place will take longer. But we are quite ambitious: we want to perform, we want to compete at this level. I think that we will in a positive way. The fact that we started the pre-season quite in a good way, by the way we played those games, and managed to get a couple of wins which will give us confidence. But we know at the same time it will be really challenging, but we will be ready to compete and we want to compete.
It looks like you won’t be facing Romelu Lukaku tomorrow, but how do you assess Chelsea?
Yeah, it’s going to be a challenging game, obviously, because of what they’ve been doing in the last couple of months. They won the Champions League, winning the [Super Cup].
We are looking forward to it. I think you will have to play those kinds of teams because you know the Premier League is really competitive. There are some strong teams, and we will have to play them. Obviously, starting with Chelsea will not make it easy, but we have our belief, we have our self-confidence as well as a football club, as a team, and we’re gonna give ourselves the best chance to go there and compete against them.
You know well from your time at Arsenal about a big rivalry with Spurs, and of course you know about Crystal Palace’s rivalry with Brighton…
Of course! I think for fans and players it is exciting to play this kind of derby. Obviously I’m looking forward to it. But, you know, there’s so many games in the Premier League that are really important, and we have to try to perform well, allow ourselves to win football matches.
And when you play your derby, you want to win it for the football club, for the fans; and we will try to do it, obviously.
How are you feeling in south London? Have you settled in well?
Yes, quite well. I’m surrounded by really good people who helped me to adjust myself really quickly. It’s been fantastic since the first day.
Would you say it’s your biggest managerial challenge so far?
Yes it is. It’s in a different way from when I was in New York or at Nice. It will be tough, but I believe that I’m in the right club to do what I love: coaching. I’m ready for it.
You know Thomas Tuchel from your time managing in Ligue 1, yet to beat him. How tough is it to face a Thomas Tuchel team?
He is one of the great managers around the Premier League – in Europe. He’s got a really strong team around him and Chelsea are playing well, playing really good football.
Obviously, it’s going to be a challenging game for us. And like I said previously: we are up for it. We’re gonna give ourselves the best chance to perform, and we will see at the end. But we are believing in ourselves and with the difficulty of course that we will face, we are going to be up for it.
Tuchel said he idolised you as a player. Do you have a good relationship with him? Have you spoken to him since arriving in the Premier League?
Yeah, we met at the Premier League managers’ meeting and obviously from the time in Ligue 1 in France we spoke together. But he’s got a really good career as a manager so far so I think he’s a great inspiration of course for those managers like myself.
Are you aware of your great record as a player against Chelsea in the Premier League?
No, not at all because that’s not important anymore! Haha.
What does it mean to you to be leading the team out as a Premier League manager?
It’s going to be really, really exciting. It’s something that I always wanted to do. That will be the case tomorrow, and I’m really excited about it.
What’s it like been working with Wilfried Zaha, and how has he been this season?
He has been fantastic. He has been a leader, like I was expecting. The leader on and off the field. He is, I believe, one of the best players in this league. And we’re fortunate to have a player like that in our squad.
We’ve just seen that Shaun Derry has been added to your first-team coaching staff. What has he brought to your backroom team and given to the team?
I really wanted to have somebody who knows the football club up and down, and Shaun’s been here for quite a long time as a player, as a coach. He knows the players from the Academy as well, and nobody will talk about the club better than Shaun. So to have him as part of my staff is something that I was looking forward to. And it’s been great to have him next to me.
Joachim Andersen – will he be fit enough to be in the squad tomorrow?
We’re going to do our last training, this afternoon, and he will be part of the squad for the first game, yes.
Luka Milivojevic, will he be taking part?
No, Luka is not. He’s not going to be with us for the game against Chelsea. He’s been missing the last couple of days of training for personal reasons.
What’s the sort of timescale with Michael Olise? There’s a lot of excitement around him.
He’s feeling better. And I think in the next two weeks, he will be starting doing some work on the field.
As a player you were competitive and an aggressor, tough to beat with flair. Are you hoping Crystal Palace will be a bit like yourself?
I think when you look at the way this team conduct themselves in the last couple of years, and fighting, staying in the Premier League. So this commitment and hard work as part of the DNA of the football club and that is something that we have to keep.
And 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 to make them play at a level that I know they can do, and obviously that will help us to play some good football.
Premier League clubs will continue to take the knee. Have you spoken to Wilf about it? Will he continue to stand?
Yeah, we talked about it and the friendly game that we played, he decided to stand up and I obviously respect his decision. Personally, I will take the knee like the players and it’s good to see the Premier League supporting that fight against discrimination
To have the support of the Premier League, I think it’s something that everybody tries to fight against any kind of discrimination. And, I will support it myself. And obviously, Wilf standing doesn’t mean that he doesn’t support that. He just has a different way of expressing himself, and this is something I understand.
Arsene Wenger used to scout in Africa – you have relationships with academies. Something you will try to do at Palace?
There is no doubt that there is talent in Africa. I believe as well that Dougie [Freedman] and the recruitment department are doing a really good job for Palace with some ideas we will share and see if there is something we can do in Africa.
But I strongly believe that there is a good organisation in this club to identify players from Africa and in Europe.
Source by Football London