BY ALESSANDRO SCHIAVONE
Will Hughes has labelled Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira one of the best midfielders the Premier League has ever seen and claimed that the club can eye European football with him in the dugout.
But the midfielder bluntly admitted that the Eagles were destined for a return to the Championship before a ball was even kicked as not many people gave them a prayer at the start of the season.
Then Vieira came in and “galvanised” the entire club, taking the South Londoners to a respectable 12th-placed finish while playing an attractive brand of football.
Hughes says that the Frenchman was a breath of fresh air and just what the club needed.
He said: “It has been a big transition for Crystal Palace in terms of manager and playing squad. We were the favourites to go down before the start of the season. And this has shown how well the gaffer has done in galvanising us and get us playing positive attacking football.
“You can always learn off players like that [because] Vieira is one of the greatest the Premier League has ever seen in that position. I think the game was a bit different when he was playing but yeah anytime you can learn something off him is brilliant.”
Hughes was signed from Watford in late August last year and took time to adapt to his new surroundings, playing a total of 16 Premier League games.
But despite the potential departure of Wilfried Zaha and Conor Gallagher’s return to parent club Chelsea, the former Hornet is convinced that the future looks exciting for the club.
He said: “There is much more to come to come from us next season. We set the bar very high this season and we’ve got to carry on next year. We all want to be ambitious.
“That’s what Patrick has taught us this season, always to look ahead of yourself. And next season definitely we have to carry on the way we have this season and fix the minor issues that we had in certain games. European football? I don’t see why not!”
PICTURES: KEITH GILLARD