Conor Gallagher was one of our most successful loan warriors last season as he earned plenty of playing time under two (very) different coaches at West Bromwich Albion — both Slaven Bilić and Sam Allardyce relied on the Chelsea youngster in their midfield setup, though ultimately the Baggies would fail to avoid relegation.
But after a brief spell back at the mothership during preseason training, Gallagher headed out once again, this time joining Crystal Palace for the season ahead. And after being ineligible for their first match of the season, a 3-0 defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, the 21-year-old made his debut yesterday, and wasted no time in impressing.
Palace may not have won the game, battling to a 0-0 draw against Brentford, but Gallagher turned a few heads with his all-action performance, one that also forced an in-game tactical switch from Brentford manager Thomas Frank after the youngster had a shot go off both the post and the crossbar in the first-half.
“Defensively, we only gave one big chance away to Gallagher and kept Zaha and Gallagher quiet. We spoke about [Gallagher] at half time because we knew he’s a very good offensive midfielder who likes to find pockets in the half space. We adjusted it at half time and I don’t feel he was a threat in the second half. We got that adjusted.”
-Thomas Frank; source: Football.London
Palace boss Patrick Vieira was much less qualified in his praise, including for the second half, which is certainly nice to see.
“I think Conor had a really good game. I think he was unlucky not to score the chance that he created. He was full of energy on the field.
“The club worked really hard to bring him to Palace, and there was a couple of clubs around him. I was really pleased we convinced him to come to us, he will be an important player for this football club. This was his first game – I think at times he was up and down physically, but overall I think he had a really solid performance and I was really happy in the first and second-half.”
-Patrick Vieira; source: Crystal Palace FC
Vieira’s looking to get his team to play an up-tempo, high-pressing modern game, a fairly significant difference from the last few years under Roy Hodgson. That will take time, but should suit the young Chelsea midfielder perfectly.
Hopefully he can build on this good first impression, and also get back into the goals as he did for Charlton Athletic a couple years ago.