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Thursday, 29 June, 2000, 10:37 GMT
Coppell pulls off Palace miracle
As impressive a job as Alan Curbishley has done in returning Charlton to the top flight, it does not compare with Steve Coppell's accomplishments at Selhurst Park.
Admittedly, a league finish of 15th does not usually merit a mention in manager of the year dispatches, but when it is achieved in the circumstances that Coppell has had to work under it becomes nothing short of miraculous.
Relying on a rag-tag collection of homegrown talent, journeymen and on-loan youngsters, Coppell kept Palace out of the relegation quagmire all season, when many pundits were predicting they would be down by Christmas, and out of business by the New Year.
Without a new signing in two years, youngsters Hayden Mullins and Clinton Morrison took on the burden of keeping Palace afloat, although veterans Andy Linighan - who was voted the player of the year - and Dean Austin did their bit too.
The Eagles' dwindling playing staff - Coppell's cause was not helped by the sale of his more marketable players as and when bills had to be paid - were also assisted by on-loan talent, most notably left-back Ashley Cole, who returned to Arsenal at end of the season.
But any roll of honour would be incomplete without a mention for the Palace fans.
Faced with the threat of losing their team due to the incompetence and greed of others, the Palace faithful have not only continued to support their team come rain or shine, but they have also put their money where their mouths are to the tune of £2.5m - an amazing figure for what is essentially a glorified whip round.
So if Coppell, the players and the fans are the heroes, who are the villains?
Step forward Ron Noades, Juventus, Mark Goldberg, Terry Venables. The list goes on. The million dollar (or however much the club actually owes) question now is where do Palace go from here.
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