New appointments mark change of direction for Crystal Palace
Written by Simon Austin — July 20, 2021
PATRICK VIEIRA has made the first appointments to his backroom team as he looks to move Crystal Palace in a new direction.
Said Aigoun has joined the Eagles as Development Coach, responsible for smoothing the transition of players from Academy to first team, while Kristian Wilson has arrived as first-team coach.
Both have a background in Academy football and individual player development, which is significant. Last season Palace had the oldest average starting line-up in the Premier League at 29.6, and chairman Steve Parish is eager to reduce that while making best use of the club’s newly Category One Academy.
Recruitment will also be centred on young players with the potential to improve. Earlier this week the Eagles signed centre-back Marc Guehi from Chelsea on a five-year deal.
Vieira himself has a background in Academy football, as boss of Manchester City’s Elite Development Squad, and said: “It’s a project that is really appealing to me, having spoken a lot with the chairman and Sporting Director about their ambition and plans for the whole club including the Academy.”
Aigoun started as a youth coach at the age of 16 before joining Ligue 2 team Paris FC. He went on to work for Auxerre’s Academy and then PSG's, where he also helped with first-team sessions.
The Frenchman also works as a consultant for French TV and has known compatriot Vieira for several years.
He explained: “I work as a coach in the professional team and under the responsibility of Patrick. He defines the strategy and objectives for the professional group. I am there as a coach with the other members of staff to contribute together so that we can work well already in training and achieve the objectives.
“In addition to that, I will have a special focus on the development of the professional players, and I will also ensure the transition from the Academy to our professional team.
“I know that the Academy is important to Crystal Palace fans and club members. Also, the club management has invested heavily in the Academy. So we need to continue that work with the young players who join us and who will have different needs to the senior players in the squad.
"It is a role that is close to my heart in view of my career and which is very important for Patrick Vieira, who has proved everywhere he has been that he is capable of launching young players and making them play well.”
Wilson worked for Brazilian Soccer Schools with Simon Clifford before joining Sheffield United’s Academy as a skills coach in 2005. He joined Manchester City in 2008 as Head of Technical Performance, which is when he forged a strong relationship with Vieira.
When the World Cup winner became manager of New York City and then OGC Nice, Wilson went with him, having the title of Performance Specialist at both clubs.
He said: “[At] Sheffield United, I was one of the first skills coaches in the country. I think Trevor Brooking was backing it at the time, so my first job was with the Academy at Sheffield United with the likes of Kyle Walker, Harry Maguire and Kyle Naughton.
“I was working with first-team players after that and then quickly moved across to Manchester City with the Academy and found myself with the U23s in the Roberto Mancini team. Then I met Patrick, the boss, and things went step by step [working with Vieira].”
It will be fascinating to see how the trio get on at Palace next season. The team may have been an old one under Roy Hodgson and Ray Lewington, and the style of play was sometimes criticised as being too conservative, but ultimately the duo kept the Eagles in the Premier League during their time in charge.
INDIVIDUAL DEVELOPMENT COACHES IN THE PREMIER LEAGUE
- Arsenal: Carlos Cuesta
- Brentford: Steven Pressley
- Crystal Palace: Said Aigoun
- Fulham: Colin Omogbehin
- Liverpool: Vitor Matos
- Manchester United: Eric Ramsay
- Wolves: Luis Nascimento