Glasner exclusive: Mid-season move was tough – but squad has surprised us

Oliver Glasner knew he was taking a risk replacing Roy Hodgson in February. Not only were Crystal Palace hovering just five points above the Premier League relegation zone but the manager had never previously taken charge of a club mid-season.

“It was the first time we did it so it was tough,” the Austrian admits to Sky Sports in an exclusive interview as he looks back on the decision to move to Selhurst Park just over two months ago.

“In an ideal world, no club would change its manager during the season and no manager would start during the season, but we don’t live in an ideal world. You have some challenges and then you have to take decisions.

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“We were thinking a lot about it and said, ‘OK, we have to be careful’. It was the challenge to implement parts of the game and how we want to play in tactical, physical and mental behaviour, but not to overload the players. This is still the challenge but we are all together.”

Glasner need not have worried. After collecting 15 points from their 10 games under their new manager, Palace have long since secured survival – helped in no small part by a statement win at Anfield.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Crystal Palace’s win against Liverpool in the Premier League

“You always need both parts – the one who sends the message and the one who receives the message,” said Glasner. “Both parts did it really well otherwise we couldn’t have cleared staying in the Premier League five games before the end of the season, or had some of these great performances.”


Glasner may admit to caution about taking charge without a pre-season but his appeal to Palace was obvious. After a near 20-year playing career – nearly all of which was spent with Austrian side SV Ried – his first significant managerial success came when he guided LASK Linz into the Austrian Bundesliga in 2017.

A move to Germany followed, which saw Glasner take Wolfsburg into the Champions League, before beating West Ham and Rangers en route to winning the Europa League with Eintracht Frankfurt in 2022.

Oliver GLASNER (coach Eintracht Frankfurt) poses with trophy, cup, trophy, football Europa League, final Eintracht Frankfurt - Glasgow Rangers 5-4 iE on May 18th, 2022 in Seville / Estadio Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Photo by: Frank Hoermann / SVEN SIMON/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images
Glasner won the Europa League with Eintracht Frankfurt in 2022

After previously being linked to teams such as Tottenham and Bayern Munich, Glasner’s arrival felt like a coup for Palace – and his methods have quickly translated to the Premier League.

Interestingly, the 49-year-old is unfazed about the challenge presented by coaching in England for the first time, saying: “There’s no big differences. You always have to deal with humans. The language is maybe different but in Frankfurt we had 16 different nationalities.

“We always look first at the human. Of course, we talk about football, train football and what we want to do, but there’s not so much difference.

“I really enjoy it. I enjoy the Premier League, I enjoy Crystal Palace, Selhurst [Park], the fans, the players and how we work together. London is a very nice city so it’s been a good 10 weeks of my life.”


Only six teams have won more points than Palace since Glasner’s arrival but perhaps even more impressive than the upturn in results has been how quickly the manager has helped the players adapt to his ideas – in particular his switch to a 3-4-3 formation.

After more than 15 years as a professional at right-back, Nathaniel Clyne has shifted seamlessly into becoming the right-sided centre-back, while injuries to other squad members mean he’s often been joined in defence by midfielder Jefferson Lerma.

Has this mid-season adaptation surprised even the man responsible for it? “Yes, but it shows the character of the players,” admits Glasner.

“We see the profile of a player and if they can fit in the shape and how we want to play, and then we speak to them.

“I think for Clyne, it was the first time he played as a half-right centre-back and he is 33. You need your character to be open-minded and say, ‘yes, the team needs me in this situation and I will give everything I can’.”

Crystal Palace's Jean-Philippe Mateta (centre) celebrates scoring their side's first goal of the game with team-mates Nathanial Clyne (left) and Daniel Munoz
Nathaniel Clyne (left) and Jean-Philippe Mateta (centre) have impressed under Glasner

Hodgson usually deployed a four-player defence during his second spell in charge but Glasner – who credits Palace’s warm-weather training camp in March as being “very important” to his strong start in the job – insists the tactical shift is not down to ideology but simply bringing the best out of the players at his disposal.

“It must fit the players,” he explains when asked about his preferred system. “I’ve played everything. I got promoted in Austria with a 4-4-2, then we switched to a 3-4-3.

“In Wolfsburg, we reached the Champions League with a 4-2-3-1. In Frankfurt, they played with three at the back before and it fit the squad.

“Here, we had several injuries and the club signed Daniel Munoz, who is a very offensive right-back, so we said, ‘he could fit as a wing-back’.

“Also, with the offensive players like Jordan Ayew – he was used to playing as a striker so we said, ‘should he be a winger or maybe we get him more inside, close to the No 9?’

“The same with [Eberechi] Eze, [Michael] Olise and [Jeffrey] Schlupp – getting the offensive players in more positions where they can score. We say, ‘OK it could fit – let’s try it’.”

It is in attack where the largest transformation has taken place. Jean-Philippe Mateta managed eight goals in his previous 61 Premier League games – a figure he has matched in the manager’s first 10 matches.


Mateta and Glasner’s paths crossed during the striker’s time in the Bundesliga with Mainz and the manager was emphatic when asked whether he believed if such an improvement was possible, saying: “Absolutely.

“Every player in our squad has their qualities, otherwise they wouldn’t be playing for Crystal Palace in the Premier League. We always want to use all the strengths we have in our squad. It’s like a puzzle – let’s fit it together.

“JP scored one or two goals and he got this confidence, which you can never train but is so important for strikers. It’s up to him to work this hard to get these chances, and then he has this quality.”

That Mateta has scored with such regularity despite mostly playing without at least one of Eze and Olise is even more impressive.

Eze and Olise’s fitness woes no doubt contributed to Palace’s struggles under Hodgson. When the duo finally appeared together last month, they combined for two goals and two assists as West Ham were thrashed 5-2.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Crystal Palace’s win against West Ham in the Premier League

If Palace can keep their star players fit, surely they have an attack to fear? “If they play like against West Ham, yes, I think so!” laughs Glasner.

“They are good individual players with good dribbling, but they can also combine together. They can use their strengths.

“We have good quality in our squad. This is our job – to encourage them to show it on the pitch.”

The fear for Palace fans is they may be running out of time to see how effective Eze and Olise can be under Glasner. Both have been linked with summer moves – including to Manchester United, Palace’s opponents on Monday Night Football, live on Sky Sports – and the manager admits “nothing is 100 per cent” regarding their futures.

Questions remain over a number of their team-mates, seven of whom have contracts that expire at the end of the season. Their top-flight status may be secure but Glasner admits Palace have big decisions looming this summer.

Which Crystal Palace players are out of contract in the summer?

  • James Tomkins (Three Premier League 2023/24 appearances)
  • Nathaniel Clyne (16)
  • Joel Ward (25)
  • Jeffrey Schlupp (27)
  • Remi Matthews (One)
  • Jairo Riedewald (Seven)
  • Nathan Ferguson (None)

“It’s a discussion we started already,” he says. “The end of the season is coming and the sooner these decisions have to be made.”

But for now at least, the focus will be on facing Erik ten Hag’s side – whose only wins in their last seven matches came against Coventry on penalties and at home to Sheffield United – on Monday.

Regardless of the result, Glasner’s short time in south London has raised expectations over what can be achieved next season.

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Highlights from Crystal Palace’s last outing – a 1-1 draw at Fulham, secured thanks to Jeffrey Schlupp’s screamer

However, the manager insists his targets are “never defined by a position in the league”. Instead, he says: “I define it by how we play.

“I’m really pleased with the performances we had. We played with courage, we wanted to show our football – this is what I enjoy.

“We can also lose. I have to be honest, we could have lost at Liverpool. But we showed we are competitive and this is what we want to do. I know the better we do it, the more points we will get and the more successful we will be.”

Palace have already taken six points from games against Tottenham, Manchester City, Liverpool and Newcastle under Glasner and United will hold no fear for a manager that beat Barcelona in the Nou Camp last season. In fact, Glasner is relishing competing against such illustrious opponents.

“It’s maybe one of the best things in the Premier League – you play the best teams in the world,” he says. “It’s a great atmosphere in every single stadium and there’s a lot of intensity on the pitch and in the stadiums.

“I appreciate being a manager in the Premier League.” That mid-season move has paid off.

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