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Patrick Vieira embraces many positives of fine first season at Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira applauds the fans after the 1-0 win over Manchester United (Steven Paston/PA)
Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira applauds the fans after the 1-0 win over Manchester United (Steven Paston/PA)

Patrick Vieira is pleased he shut out the noise and was able to answer his critics during a successful first season at Crystal Palace.

The 45-year-old took over at Selhurst Park in July and was tasked with replacing veteran boss Roy Hodgson in addition to rebuilding a squad that had just lost a number of senior professionals.

Despite accepting the role only six weeks before the start of the season, the former Arsenal captain was able to guide Palace to an impressive 12th-placed finish and also lead them to an FA Cup semi-final at Wembley.

“I think it has been really good and I am really happy with the staff and the way we work,” Vieira reflected after a final-day win over Manchester United.

“It has been positive and it is good I did not listen a lot about what people were expecting me to achieve this season. I put my head down and with the rest of the staff we work well and work hard.

“We went through a difficult period but we didn’t change our philosophy because we knew where we wanted to go and even through a difficult period we manage to stick together. Now at the end of the season looking at where we are I am pleased with that.”

A first-half goal by Wilfried Zaha earned Palace a first home win over Manchester United since 1991 and ensured they finished only two points off setting a new club record in the Premier League.

Last summer saw chairman Steve Parish along with sporting director Dougie Freedman bring in a number of new additions – the majority aged 23 or below – and Vieira is thrilled with how they have handled their first full season in England’s top flight.

“Of course it is not easy when you come into a football club and there is a really big turnover,” he said.

“With young players coming through of course there is always going to be a question about if those players will adapt. There is also a question of the young, new manager coming into the Premier League and there is a question mark over whether he can handle the pressure of the game.

“But the support has been fantastic, from the sporting director Dougie to the chairman, we work well.

“We always had a clear idea of where we wanted to go. During the season we knew there would be difficult periods but we always tried to stick together and take the positives so that helped us manage those difficult periods.”

Palace face another pivotal couple of months with loanee Conor Gallagher set to return to Chelsea and decisions to be made over certain players who are out of contract.

Vieira has in recent weeks talked about raising the bar at Palace and warned their rivals they will only get better.

He added: “I think it is all about as a manager, as a coaching staff to keep maintaining the level of the quality of the players and of course with the way we work we expect them to improve.

“We also want to try to bring those couple of players who will help us to be more stronger as a team.

“We have to keep challenging ourselves and we want to be ambitious. After we have to perform to allow ourselves to be in a good part of the table.”

United could have missed out on Europa League football due to their defeat in south London but West Ham’s failure to win at Brighton saw the Red Devils secure sixth spot.

“The best thing that happened today is the season finished,” David De Gea told BBC Sport.

“I want to forget this season and be 100 per cent ready for the next season and be positive.

“It has been horrible, a very bad season in all ways, it has been very tough. It is time to rest and prepare your minds for next season.”

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