Premier League

Bale claims Football Writers' award

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Thu, 02 May 2013 12:36:00

Crystal Palace boss Ian Holloway insists his side still have a great chance of promotion from the Championship this season.

The Eagles, who looked on course for a top-two finish earlier this season, are without a win in their last nine matches and still not guaranteed a play-off place.

They need a point against Peterborough on Saturday to be sure of a top-six finish and Holloway feels they will get it if his players perform as well as they did in Tuesday's goalless draw at Millwall.

"We've still got a fantastic chance," he said.

"We need one more point if results go against us and with a performance like Millwall I can see us getting it.

"We have got to get in there and then we will be hard to beat.

"I don't think we are anything like we were a couple of weeks ago when things were just going totally wrong. Let's hope we can give our fans something to cheer about with a shot at the play-offs."

At the end of last week, Hill announced he would enter into negotiations with Jason Kennedy, Rhys Bennett, Steve Collis, Phil Edwards, Ian Henderson, Joe Rafferty, Michael Rose and Andrew Tutte, all of whom see their present terms expire this summer.

"There are players who I want to retain but I have to play a game of cat and mouse," he told the Manchester Evening News.

"Gone are the days when I'll be waiting for players to make decisions. There will be one or two who I will be prepared to wait for because they are important to me. But the rest will be waiting for me.

"It's a great market for me. There are some very good players out there who can bed in nicely to this environment and this process we are going through.

"I'm well on the way to speaking to players' agents, but I'm going on holiday and when I get back that is when the real work will start. I ask fans to be ultra-patient because we're not looking for a quick signing to sell season tickets.

"We want supporters to buy season tickets, but we don't want them to buy them on a marquee signing. Buy season tickets, support your team and you'll be pleasantly surprised by the way we set up next season."

Goalkeeper Josh Lillis is already under contract for 2013/14 at Spotland along with forward duo George Donnelly and Bobby Grant, while defender Peter Cavanagh is expected to take up his option for another year with Hill doing likewise for youngsters Godwin Abadaki and Reece Gray.

Experienced midfielder Brian Barry-Murphy has agreed to join the backroom staff and will register as a player/coach for next season.

Ashley Grimes, Andy Haworth, Terry Gornell, Ritchie Jones, Kevin McIntyre, Neill Byrne, Matt Edwards and Matt Pearson have been released.

The Wales international, 23, topped the poll of journalists with a narrow victory over Manchester United forward Robin van Persie, who was last year's recipient when at Arsenal.

Bale's 24 goals in all competitions helped take Andre Villas-Boas' men into the quarter-finals of the Europa League and kept them in the race to secure a return to the Champions League via a top-four finish in the Barclays Premier League.

The Spurs midfielder will receive the prestigious FWA accolade, which has been running since 1948, at a gala dinner at the Lancaster London Hotel on May 9.

Bale was last week also named Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year by the Professional Footballers' Association.

Chelsea's Juan Mata was third in the journalists' poll, with Bale taking first place with 53 per cent of the votes ahead of Van Persie.

There were also a wide range of votes for the likes of Everton defender Leighton Baines, Pablo Zabaleta of Manchester City, Swansea forward Michu, Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick and Southampton frontman Rickie Lambert.

Bale becomes Spurs' first winner of the FWA award since David Ginola in 1999, and the first Wales international to be selected for English football's oldest individual trophy since Everton's Neville Southall in 1985.

The Tottenham midfielder said: "It is a huge honour to receive the Footballer of the Year award from the Football Writers' Association.

"It means a lot to win this award when you consider the number of players that have been outstanding for their clubs in the Barclays Premier League this season.

"I have been very fortunate to be playing in such a fantastic team and I owe a lot to my team-mates and, obviously, the manager who has shown such faith in me.

"This award has been won in the past by some of the greatest names in football and I consider it a privilege that the FWA has selected me to be named alongside them."

Chairman of the FWA Andy Dunn, chief sports writer for the Sunday Mirror, said: "In a contest for votes that took so many late twists and turns, Gareth's penchant for the spectacular captured the imagination.

"He is a player who is rising inexorably towards the rarefied levels of world stars such as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

"Twice the PFA Player of the Year and now, two months before his 24th birthday, the FWA Footballer of the Year.

"Let's all hope he lights up the Barclays Premier League for many seasons to come."

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