Holloway admits Crystal Palace face tough Premier League future

Crystal Palace manager Ian Holloway has told BBC Sport that it will be a tough challenge to keep the Eagles in the Premier League next season.

Despite being relegation favourites at the start of the Championship season, the London club have been in the top six since mid-September, and sealed their return to the top flight on Monday with a play-off final victory over Watford when 39-year-old Kevin Phillips came off the bench to smash home the winning penalty in the 1-0 victory at Wembley Stadium.

Holloway said: “It all starts now for me because the minute we kick-off next season, we’re on a hiding to nothing. We’ve got to make sure we can compete and I want to stay there.

The 50-year-old walked out on Blackpool in November to succeed Dougie Freedman, who left for Bolton Wanderers, and went on to earn his second promotion through the play-offs in four years.

Palace will return to the elite after eight seasons in the second tier of English football, and will aim to follow the likes of Stoke, West Brom and Swansea in becoming a stable club. In each of their four previous Premier League campaigns (1993, 1995, 1998 and 2005), Palace have been sent straight back down.

Holloway also indicated there won’t be massive changes in his playing squad, saying: “How much you spend on your group isn’t always what gives you (success). It’s what’s inside their hearts and how much they work for you. To me they’re Palace heroes.

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