Crystal Palace manager Ian Holloway has praised the fighting spirit of his side to secure a Championship play-off place.When Dougie Freedman left the club for Bolton in November, Holloway took the reigns and, despite their high position in the league, promotion was never thought likely given their struggles in recent seasons.
promotion place but a terrible run of form saw them drop
down the table and even threatened their participation in the play-offs.
"When I first came here came no one said we had to go up," he said. "But we had a
chance because of the way we were playing. Now we are in there
"This is about us having a chance to get the last promotion place to
the Premier League. We almost lost it because the players wanted it so
badly they got nervous. I don't sense that from them now.
"In life you have to grab things out of the fire and be brave and strong enough."
Going into their final game of the season, Palace had not won in nine games, but a 3-2 victory over Peterborough secured fifth position.
Glen Murray ended an eight-game run without scoring in that victory, but they had to rely on the experienced heads of Kevin Phillips and Mile Jedinak to secure the points and set up a play-off semi-final with fierce rivals Brighton.
Despite their poor form, Holloway never lost faith in the ability his side had and insisted he had seen encouraging signs in his side's performances.
"I think we have got stronger over the last couple of weeks because
things had been rosy," he said.
"Then it went wrong and nearly everyone in the
ground, bar me, thought we were going to throw it away.
"The players have achieved something by getting in there. It would
have been disastrous if we'd fallen out, particularly with Bolton and
their old manager Dougie Freedman chasing us. But we are in there."The play-off semi-final gives Palace the chance to return to the Premier League for the first time since 2005, and Holloway knows that beating Brighton to get to the final would be even sweeter for the club's fans.
"What it means to the supporters is immense, they really don't like each other. I understand that now," he added.
"But what I can't do is get caught up in that. I have to focus on their strengths.
"There are four teams in it and no one can tell who is going to win.
The best thing about all of this is we are still in with a chance."
|Champions League Final: Luis Enrique worried about Juve, Italian fan nears end of Berlin bike ride|
|Essien joins Panathinaikos|
|Blatter in profile: A look back on 17 years at the top of world football|
|Demichelis set for international retirement after Copa|
|Football world reacts to Blatter resignation|
|Blackpool turn to McDonald|
|Blatter resignation: How the FIFA scandal unfolded|
|Ancelotti rejects Milan approach|
|Platini: Blatter resignation ´the right decision´|
|Swiss Attorney General: Blatter not under investigation|
|Blatter resignation can inspire FIFA change - Scala|
|Mohsni faces lengthy SFA ban|
|Sepp Blatter: Resignation speech in full|
|Blatter to resign as FIFA president|
|Adkins named Sheffield United manager|
|Juve talks ongoing - Witsel|
|Costa has no intention of leaving Chelsea|
|Ligue 1: Paris Saint-Germain season review - Blanc´s men make history|
|Luis Enrique ´worried´ by Juve|
|Mourinho: Costa happy at Chelsea|
|Mourinho hits out at ´unacceptable´ Loftus-Cheek display|
|Inter an ´option´ for Richards|
|Messi: Off-field relationship with Neymar and Suarez key|
|Remy rifle seals Sydney win for Chelsea|
|Messi could replicate Bilbao goal - Luis Enrique|
|Liverpool mauling a boost in transfer market, says Stoke chairman Coates|
|Adkins: Football can learn a lot from rugby|
|Celtic swoop for City defender Boyata|
|Xavi out to sign off in style at Barca|
|Criscito and Poli leave Italy squad|
|Lacazette plays down ´unfounded´ PSG rumours|
|Lloris: No buy-out clause in Tottenham contract|
|Newcastle released Taylor and Gutierrez in same phone call|
|Alba signs new Barcelona deal|
|Benteke coy on Villa future|
|FIFA denies Valcke involvement in $10million payment|
|Brazil selection never influenced, says technical director|
|Pogba doing ´great things´ and will get better, says Deschamps|
|Bundesliga: Borussia Dortmund season review - Klopp endures rocky farewell|
|Adler ´aged three years´, Labbadia ´extremely proud´ of Hamburg|
|Colombia squad settles in Argentina|
|Balotelli ´a target´ because of Liverpool form - Richards|
|Bosnich: If I´d listened to Terry I would have avoided drugs|
|Luiz Gustavo ruled out of Brazil´s Copa America squad|
|Mexico confirm Copa squad|
|Pogba ´very happy´ at Juve|
|Pogba can be Europe´s greatest - Pirlo|
|Pinedo stays in Argentina, Bolivia captain Raldes in Copa America squad|
|Quinteros cuts Banguera, Hidalgo for Chile showpiece|
|Injured Gonzalez misses Copa America, Venezuela finalise youthful squad|
|Champions League Final: Buffon plays down Juve hopes, Iniesta doubtful|
|Karlsruher 1 Hamburg 2 (2-3 agg): Muller strike ensures survival|
|CONCACAF official Sanz banned by FIFA|
|Gourvennec shuns admirers with Guingamp extension|
|Pastore signs PSG extension|
|Morel swaps Marseille for Lyon|
|Watford sign Austria defender Prodl|
|Monaco confirm Berbatov departure|
|Peru v Mexico: Herrera confident as Copa preparations continue|
|Injury rules Dost out of Netherlands friendlies|
|Koeman must strengthen attack for Europa League challenge - McMenemy|
|Wilshere apologises for Spurs taunts|
|Marchisio: No fear ahead of Barcelona clash|
|Klopp to take break after leaving Dortmund|
|Champions League win would be ´more than extraordinary´ - Allegri|
|Charity calls for education after Leicester ´racist orgy´ claims|
|Taylor agrees Swansea deal|
|Sevilla snare Krohn-Dehli|
|Coloccini hails Gutierrez after ´perfect´ Newcastle finale|
|Benitez excited by Madrid opportunity|
|Sampaoli confirms final Chile squad for Copa America|
|Clement ready to go it alone at Derby|
|Mihajlovic confirms Sampdoria exit|
|Brentford turn to Dijkhuizen|
|Usami, Moto to lead Japan qualifying threat|
|Vieira ´the best bet´ for Newcastle - Bernard|
|´We´ll see what happens with my future´ - De Gea|
|Klinsmann: Guzan will start at Gold Cup|
|Alves wants Barca extension not PSG - Blanc|
|Derby appoint Paul Clement as head coach|
|Karlsruher ´can only win´ - Kauczinski|
|Ronaldinho causes stir with disallowed goal|
|Szczesny plans Arsenal stay|
|Pioli: Lazio deserve Champions League qualification|
|Pablo Aimar makes River Plate return|
|MLS Review: Seattle leave it late against Red Bulls|
|Wenger: Arsenal won´t spend big|
|Police to investigate Rangers-Motherwell fight|
|´I will definitely stay´ at City - Toure|
|Champagne backs Blatter to reform FIFA|
|Honduras 2 El Salvador 0: Penalty, goal and red card to Lozano|
|Mancini wants Icardi to stay|
|Sampdoria set to speak on Mihajlovic future|