Eagles must keep vultures at bay

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Crystal Palace face a fight to hold on to their young heroes of Old Trafford in tough economic times

Even as they toasted the fairytale on Wednesday night, Manchester United vanquished at their feet and Old Trafford's complimentary champagne in their hands, Crystal Palace's recent history is such that it was inevitable that the thoughts of those tasked with safeguarding the club's future should soon turn to finance.

After all, for a team rescued from the clutches of administration less than 18 months ago, a 2-1 victory over Sir Alex Ferguson's side to claim a place in the Carling Cup semi-finals against fellow Championship outfit Cardiff does not just offer the prospect of a trip to Wembley. In success lies security, and with Glenn Murray's goal in extra time, Dougie Freedman's team may just have won it.

"This victory is going to put a lot of money in the bank for us," said the 37-year-old, in his inaugural managerial job, a man who travelled north intending to quiz Ferguson how to inculcate a culture of hunger in his squad. "It is difficult in these tough economic times, but this might make me hold on to one or two players in January. I want to keep this team together because I have worked very hard over the last 18 months with young players." His chief executive, Phil Alexander, said: "I don't know how much this is worth financially to us exactly, but will it make the difference if the clubs come after our talent in January? Absolutely."

That, of course, is the bittersweet masochism of unexpected cup success. With every sweep of iridescence from Wilfried Zaha, every thrusting run from Sean Scannell, every assured tackle from Nathaniel Clyne, their value increased, their appeal exploded.

Palace's troubled recent past, combined with their nurturing nature, has seen the club entrust their future to the youth of their south London home. Gary Issott's academy has allowed young players, the likes of Clyne, Zaha and Jonathan Williams to develop away from the limelight, securing first-team football at a young age. "It is better for them to be here," Issott told The Independent before the game. "Our first team is of a higher standard than a Premier League's reserve team." His conviction was borne out at Old Trafford.

It is a mutually beneficial arrangement. In exchange, Palace have a constant supply of players aware of the style that is required from them once they do reach the first team. They can, according to Issott, protect the club's identity. The danger of victory against United was that, with the vultures hovering, the virtuous circle would be broken, the money too good to turn down, Palace's identity lost as its exponents depart for diverse destinations.

Instead, as Darren Ambrose observed, such an experience will serve to stiffen his young team-mates' resolve. "I hope the funds keep this team together," he said. "We have some fantastic players, and this did not faze them at all. It will stand them in good stead."

Not just for if chairman Steve Parish – who rescued the club he has supported all his life in August 2010 – should be granted his wish of a final against Liverpool, of course, but for further, more distant challenges.

"We could have made more money out of [Manchester] City or Liverpool [in the semi-final] but it would be amazing to get to Wembley," he said. "Kenny [Dalglish] was Liverpool's manager when we beat them 4-3 [in the 1990 FA Cup semi]. You never know. That would be a fairytale." That part is already secure. Their fantastical present safe, Palace can start dreaming about the future.

Gary Neville said Darren Ambrose scored the best goal against United at Old Trafford in 20 years. We choose our top 10 in the gallery above

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Rafa Benitez Real Madrid unveiling: New manager full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

Benitez full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

There were tears in the former Liverpool manager’s eyes as he was unveiled as Real Madrid coach. But the Spaniard knows he must make tough decisions if he is to succeed
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?