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Interviews

David Wright: Palace was a brilliant club to play for

31 December 2019

Now Under-23s Coach at Norwich City, David Wright was once plying his trade in the heart of defence for Crystal Palace during the decade’s earlier years.

With the Eagles visiting Carrow Road on Wednesday night in the Premier League, canaries.co.uk caught up with David to get his memories on representing the club.

“All good memories. It was a brilliant club to play for,” he said. “When I first came into the club, I think they just came out of administration, with Steve Parish just taking over. The dressing room was a real mish mash of different kinds of players, we had a very young dressing room.

“After a few months, Dougie Freedman took charge, and after that I think between him and Steve Parish, they transformed the club. They ended up getting into the Premier League. The fans were absolutely brilliant. After Freedman transformed the dressing room, it was one of the best I’ve ever been in, maybe even the best.”

Asked to elaborate on the key ingredients to such unity in the dressing room, Wright said there was good diversity among the group.

“I think it was the type of players that Dougie bought into the dressing room; Paddy McCarthy, Mile Jedinak, Anthony Gardner, Glenn Murray, and Wilfried Zaha and Julian Speroni were already in the dressing room,” he said.

“Freedman bought in some excellent senior players, with the likes of Nathaniel Clyne and Zaha coming through at the time. Young, hungry players. It was backed up by the supporters. The supporters were absolutely brilliant. I think it was a great mix of everything, I believe that gave the club the foundation to kick on and get promoted to the Premier League.”

It was initially George Burley, whom Wright had played under at City’s rivals Ipswich Town, who brought the defender to Selhurst Park, becoming Burley’s first signing at the club.

“George Burley signed me up, but I think the real big turning point was when Freedman took-over and bought in Tony Popovic and Lennie Lawrence. I think with them three working together, I thought the club then made major strides into where it is today.”

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Asked whether Burley’s quick passing game had an influence on Wright’s approach to managing Norwich City’s academy side today, he said he took on board lessons from all the coaches he played under.

“I think my coaching methods were already influenced in terms of how I want the game to be played. I think that was the education I had from nine to 23 from Dario Gradi and Steve Holland at Crewe.

“I think for such a big period of my life and my education growing up, to work with them it was always going to be the case that they made that much of an impact on me that I was always going to play the game the way I play.

“I think from every coach and manager you work with; you take bits from them and keep evolving. Even from today, I watch Daniel [Farke], hearing things he does and obviously with the coaching staff I work with now. I think your philosophy is constantly evolving.”

What was also evolving was Wright’s disciplinary record at Palace, as he went from receiving eight yellow cards in the 2010-11 season to none in the 2011-12 season. That was more down to his team’s style than his personal development, however.

“I think maybe the year after under George was very difficult, we were a very young team,” he added. “We did a lot of defending, because we were under the cosh quite a bit. If you’re constantly defending, you’ll end up making poor decisions or decisions for the team, like a tactical foul.

“I think once the team had been transformed into what it was, defending for the majority of the game then became us taking the games to the opposition. I think it’s a mix of that really, I don’t think throughout my career I was ever someone who got a lot of yellow cards. I think eight was the most I ever got in a season. I think that had a lot to do with the unfortunate place the team was at during the time.”


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