Five Things We Learned From Crystal Palace 1-1 Schalke (Pre-Season)

Written by Robert Sutherland

 Selhurst Schalke

1. Riedewald Gives Back Line an Assurance

Whether with his feet or in the air, there's a quality about Jairo Riedewald that is clear for everyone to see. The defender showed an excellent reading of the game throughout his first home appearance, and on occasions where he was called into action he showed an assuring turn of pace and tenacity. 
You can see the quality in the young defender and his addition to the squad means the back line is significantly improved. Recruiting another defender of a similar quality would be ideal. 


2. Lokilo Shows Growing Quality That will Take Time to Flourish

In just his second pre-season appearance for Palace, Jason Lokilo showed why playing youngsters from the youth set-up requires patience and calmness. Lokilo, who is just 18-years-old, started the game with a timid few touches, but grew in confidence as the minutes passed.
Palace are, in recent terms at least, new to the ideal of giving youth players a proper try. Other than Sullay Kaikai (who, since making his debut for the team against Newcastle United in the League Cup back in September 2014 has barely featured) the last youth player to get consecutive appearances for Palace was Jonny Williams 2011. It's been that long since a player has either been given a chance or has been considered good enough. 
You can't expect youngsters like Lokilo to fit right in from the start. It took Wilfried Zaha time to grow (in stature as well as confidence) and the same patience should be afforded to any youth player the manager deems good enough. To go from playing with fellow youth players to training with and featuring in pre-season games alongside internationals like Christian Benteke, Luka Milivojevic and Zaha must be quite a daunting experience. Lokilo will already feel pressure -- it's important that Palace fans don't add to that. 

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3. Loftus-Cheek Is a Powerhouse Midfielder

When was the last time Palace had a driving force from the centre of midfield? It's been years at least -- but Ruben Loftus-Cheek looks like the kind of player to fit exactly into that mould.
There's a real sense of quality about the player signed on loan from Chelsea. His touch, burst of pace, power and vision were all seen against Schalke. He was tenacious, forward-thinking and looked like a player capable of having a majorly positive influence this season.
Along with Riedewald, he's another improvement to the squad.

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4. This side is a work in progress

There's a problem with the way that the start of the football season doesn't coincide with the end of the transfer window. It leaves an underlying impression that, once the season kicks off, there is nothing that can be changed about the side or how it plays. 
The season may start in less than a week but there's still plenty of time to make additions. While it isn't ideal to start the season with a squad lacking depth, there are still three and a half weeks for Palace to make the signings that will help shape the season. 
What will also become clear, for Palace players and for those who the club wish to sign, is whether they will be involved in the coming season's activities. Players like Chung-yong Lee, Bakary Sako and even Martin Kelly should have some indication as to whether they will feature this season, and will need to decide whether staying at the club is advantageous to their development. The same applies to players Palace are linked with -- if your current manager doesn't want you, it's easier to make the move to a club with one who does. 

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5. We're All a Little Nervous. But That's OK. 

We've got a new manager. A new outlook. New tactics. New players. It gives Palace fans the perfect excuse to be a little bit nervous. The fear is real -- that Palace have another repeat of the drop to the bottom of the table as witnessed under Pardew. That new tactics might also mean a listless approach to organisation. But that nervousness shouldn't have a crippling effect. 
Palace need to grow. To become a side that doesn't just recruit good players but to become one that can play good football with those players. Counter-attacking football is ingrained in our culture but it doesn't mean Palace should limit themselves to play only that way. It's important that, as the playing squad improves in technical ability, so does the football the squad plays. 
It won't always be a smooth process but there have been plenty of signs during pre-season that it won't be a terrible one either.